Tee Time: A gorgeous and unforgiving Par 5 at Breckenridge Golf Club | SummitDaily.com

Tee Time: A gorgeous and unforgiving Par 5 at Breckenridge Golf Club

Beaver Course at Breckenridge Golf Club

What: One of two original Nines at the club, the Beaver Course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and known for narrow fairways lined with thick wetlands

Where: 200 Clubhouse Drive in Breckenridge (off Tiger Run Road)

Green fees: $117 for 18 holes (walking) until Sept. 7

Phone: (970) 453-9104

Fall pricing begins Sept. 7, with discounts on walking and cart rates for peak times, twilight (after 2 p.m.) and happy hour (after 4 p.m.). For reservations, current green fees and course maps, see the club website at http://www.breckenridgegolfclub.com.

Few Summit County pastimes are better than golf in autumn.

Sure, there’s hiking, mountain biking and trail running around Boreas Pass and other trail systems lined with yellowing aspens and blazing underbrush. But, if you’d rather simply soak in the surroundings — and who doesn’t on occasion? — a round on the links is often just as stunning as exploring local trails, with changing foliage and plenty of wildlife sightings. And, don’t forget the joys of chasing a little white ball for a few hours.

“Besides the changing of colors, the golf courses themselves start to firm up a bit (in fall),” says Erroll Miller, head PGA pro at Breckenridge Golf Club. “The fairways give you more roll, which means you’ll hit the ball a little further and the course might play a little shorter. For most of us, a little bit shorter means a little bit easier.”

Firm fairways aside, here’s the real appeal of fall golf: Green fees are priced for locals. Breckenridge isn’t teeming with thousands of aspens like, say, Beaver Creek Golf Club over in Eagle County, but, when fall arrives, prices for a round of 18 drop like so many colorful leaves (or bad wordplay).

Beginning Sept. 7, the walking rate goes from $117 to $87 for 18 holes and from $59 to $43 for nine holes. Then, prices drop even more: From Sept. 14 to the end of the season on Oct. 4, the walking rate is $67. The “happy hour” rate for nine holes is $30 and begins at 4 p.m. daily.

The Breckenridge club is home to three Jack Nicklaus-designed courses, and each one has a few signature autumn holes. But, Hole 8 on the Beaver Course is one of the most colorful — and merciless.

Beaver Hole 8

Par 5 — 580 yards (back tees), 408 yards (front tees)

Of the seven Par 5’s on 27 holes at Breck, Miller believes Hole 8 on the Beaver Course is by far the most difficult. It’s the club’s longest and narrowest hole from the back tees, with beaver ponds buttressing the front of the green and several patches of wetland brush strewn throughout. If you don’t have a pinpoint tee shot, follow Miller’s advice: Take three fairways shots, not two.

“Length is not an advantage here,” Miller says. “Accuracy is. It’s very narrow, so you can challenge the hole with a very straight driver. But, the next stroke after that has to carry over hazard, and the risk-reward is skewed toward risk.”

But, Hole 8 isn’t all risk. It’s straight, with a clear line of sight from the tee box to the green, and, unlike many mountain holes, the elevation change is gradual. The slope can even help your drive if you decide to tempt fate with a two-shot approach. The same intimidating trees that line the narrow fairway also protect the hole from wind gusts, which means a straight shot will usually travel where you aim.

Just don’t forget to play the seasons. Autumn means fast fairways and hard greens, so compensate slightly depending on how you drive and putt.

Hazards: The fairway is lined with underbrush and pine trees, and a beaver pond sits between the fairway and the green.

Pro tip: Take three approach shots, not two. This can line you up on the edge of the fairway for a clean, confident pitch onto the green. Again, as Miller knows full well, there are countless places to go wrong on a 580-yard Par 5 surrounded by thick woods, wetlands and beaver ponds. Don’t let the penultimate hole skew your score.

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