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Aspen Golf: A Guide to the Golf Courses of Aspen, Colorado

Brandon Wenerd's picture

High Altitude Golf at the Aspen Golf Club, Photo by Keith BarnholtHigh Altitude Golf at the Aspen Golf Club, Photo by Keith Barnholt ASPEN, CO -In the last twenty years, the golf scene in the Roaring Fork Valley has gained nationwide prominence with the addition of exciting new courses with provocative challenges. However, this was not always the situation. There was a time in the 1970s and 1980s when the only course in Aspen was the Aspen Golf Club, notoriously frequented by a rowdy crowd more focused on imbibing adult beverages than chalking in a serious round. That era has passed, to some degree. Nowadays Carbondale and Glenwood Springs have attracted affluent retirees from around the country for private golf and fly fishing clubs, rustic residential communities, and an active four-season lifestyle of Rocky Mountain fun. Arnold Palmer is known to spend Christmas skiing at Snowmass , so the region can stake claim to some sort of atmospheric magnetism for golfers.

The 18th Hole at the Aspen Glen Golf Club in Carbondale, Photo by Dick Durrance IIIThe 18th Hole at the Aspen Glen Golf Club in Carbondale, Photo by Dick Durrance IIIThe golf season in Colorado is much shorter compared to other golf destinations like Florida, Arizona, California, South Carolina, and Georgia because of the snowy weather, the elevation, and course conditions. Nonetheless, there are a consortium of world-class champion golf courses scattered throughout the immediate Aspen vicinity and the Roaring Fork Valley, including three Jack Nicklaus-designed courses that have popped up in the valley in recent years.

Golfing at an elevation of 8,000 feet in the dry, windy, and thin air can present its own set of rewards and challenges. High altitude golf in Colorado means drives fly higher and further, decreasing the aerodynamic drag on the ball and potentially putting you closer to the pin. On the other hand, thin air also means hooks and shanks are to the extreme, so sea level golfers should be prepared for the occasional mulligan. The high country links are often characterized by long drives, narrow fairways, short approaches, and playing amidst some of the most spectacular mountain topography in the country. Lining up a drive with the peak of Mt. Sopris, Maroon Bells, Pyramid Peak, or the Roaring Fork River is a memorable experience in itself whether you’re a newcomer to the game or a trophy-clinging professional.

While many courses in the immediate Aspen area are exclusive and private, some golf gems like the acclaimed Snowmass Club allow occasional public play. Call in advance for tee-times and to see if arrangements for play are possible with existing club memberships outside the Roaring Fork Valley. Here at Aspen.com, we’ve rounded up a list of the best places around the Roaring Fork Valley to tee-up.

Glenwood Springs Golf Club
193 Sunny Acres Rd
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
(970) 945-7086
www.glenwoodgolf.com

This simple, nine-hole executive course in Glenwood Springs overlooks the Colorado River and I-70. Glenwood Springs Golf Club is a public course highlighted by a 4000-foot ridge that towers above the tree-lined fairways.


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Ranch at the Roaring Fork
14913 Hwy 82
Carbondale, CO 81623
(970) 963-4410‎
www.ranchatroaringfork.com

Located just past El Jebel between Basalat and Carbondale, The Ranch At the Roaring Fork golf course is oldest golf course in the mid-valley region. Public, relaxed, and downright cheap, The Ranch at the Roaring Fork course is a simple, nine-hole, par 3 chip-and-putt. It is great for a beginner getting acquainted with the game. Be sure to soak in the views of Mt. Sopris and the rocky ridges of the Crystal River Valley.
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Ironbridge Golf Club
410 Iron Bridge Road
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
(970) 945-4300
www.ironbridgeclub.com

Ironbridge Golf Club in Glenwood SpringsIronbridge Golf Club in Glenwood SpringsJust outside of Glenwood Springs, the Ironbridge Club a private 18-hole alpine course designed by Arthur Hills. The par 74-course is known for a variety of natural and brutish features, including a 495-foot gain in elevation from Hole 1 along the Roaring Fork River to Hole 12 perched on a scenic canyon ridge of pines and native grasses. Hole 13 will bamboozle golfers with its a 600-yard, par-five drive over a canyon. Within close proximity to I-70 and 40 minutes from Aspen, the club and residential community also boast private fishing ponds for members.


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River Valley Ranch
303 River Valley Ranch Rd.
Carbondale, CO 81623
(970) 963-3625
www.rvrgolf.com

Located immediately south of downtown Carbondale in the shadows of Mt. Sopris, Rver Valley Ranch is a scenic, 520-acre residential public course owned and operated by Crown Golf, the same management company operating the Snowmass Club. The down valley trip from Aspen is a quick 40-minute drive into the breathtaking Crystal River Valley. Opened in July 1998, the River Valley Ranch has received acclaim from Golf magazine as “The new Crown Jewel of the Rockies” and greens fees remain highly affordable compared to more exclusive Aspen courses. The 18-hole, par 72 course hugs the Crystal River with wide, gently rolling greens and challenging water features. With spectacular views of Mt. Sopris, the clubhouse patio is one of the best in Colorado for après golf.


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Aspen Golf Club
39551 Highway 82
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 925-2145
www.aspenrecreation.com

Aspen Golf Club in the shadows of Red Mountain, Photo by Keith BarnholtAspen Golf Club in the shadows of Red Mountain, Photo by Keith Barnholt

The Aspen Golf Club’s long 400 and 500-yard fairways may be featureless and relatively Spartan, but the club gets nods for convenience to the downtown Aspen and public accessibility. Owned and operated by The City of Aspen’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Aspen Golf Club is an 18-hole course with sweeping views of the Roaring Fork Valley, Buttermilk, Mount Hayden, the Hunter Creek Valley, and Pyramid Peak. Greens fees at the Aspen Golf Club are relatively affordable. Playing this course is a great introduction to refining your technique in the high country before tackling more challenging courses like the Snowmass Club or the Roaring Fork Club.


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The Snowmass Club
0239 Snowmass Club Circle
Snowmass Village
(970) 923-5600
www.snowmassclub.com

What once was ranchland for Colorado beef cattle is now an award-winning private golf club at the base of a breathtaking mountainscape. Architect James J. Engh designed the 18-hole course in the style of a traditional Irish links. The course boasts elevated tees with a full panorama of the snowcapped ridges and passes in the area. Expect dramatic rolling fairways, steep bunkers, and water hazards. Along with surreal views of the Elk Mountains, the Snowmass Club offers some of the best greens within the immediate Aspen area. Limited public play opportunities are available after 1:00pm. Additionally, the Club offers all the features of a world-class resort, including tennis, a spa, and sophisticated clubhouse dining.


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Lakota Canyon Ranch
1000 Club House Drive
New Castle, Colorado 81647
970.984.9700
www.lakotacanyonranch.com

Lakota Canyon Ranch in New Castle, ColoradoLakota Canyon Ranch in New Castle, ColoradoThough it is a day trip to get to Lakota Canyon Ranch from Aspen, it’s well worth the hike for the discerning golfer looking for a scenic and challenging high altitude course. This 18-hole public course is located west of Glenwood Springs in the I-70 corridor below the vast the Flat Tops Wilderness area, surrounded by canyons, mesas, and buttes. Opened in 2004, Lakota Canyon Ranch is one of the newest courses in Colorado’s Western Slope.

Maroon Creek Club
10 Club Circle
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 544-1660
mccaspen.memfirstweb.net

Billionaires, celebrities, and the upper crust of the Aspen social scene play this exclusive private par 70 course just outside downtown Aspen. At around 8,000 feet in elevation, the Maroon Creek Club is one of the highest courses in the Roaring Fork Valley, located immediately west of the public Aspen Golf Course on Highway 82. Opened in 1995, the Tom Fazio-designed course has breathtaking views of 14,00-foot Pyramid Peak, the Aspen Highlands ski area, and challenging water features. The club also boasts indoor and outdoor tennis, gourmet private dining, and a fitness facility. If you can afford a membership or have friends in high places, Maroon Creek is Aspen’s premiere club to tee up.


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Aspen Glen
545 Bald Eagle Way
Carbondale, CO 81623
970.704.1905
www.aspenglen.com

Aspen Glen facing Mt. Sopris, Photo by Dick Durrance IIIAspen Glen facing Mt. Sopris, Photo by Dick Durrance III

This 938-acre private country club in Carbondale is celebrated for its topography of red-cliff buttes, shrubby sagebrush ridges, and luxurious rough-sawn timber mountain lodge clubhouse. The 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus/Jack Nicklaus II co-designed course boasts eight holes nestled along the banks of the Roaring Fork River. The 18th hole is the only natural island green in the state of Colorado and is located in the middle of the rapids of the Roaring Fork River. Add breathtaking vistas of Mt. Sopris and fairways in the steep rocky buffs called “Saddleback Hollow” into the equation and you get phenomenal and challenging high-altitude golf course. The club’s 240-acre Coryell Ranch offers anglers exclusive private trophy trout fishing opportunities on the Roaring Fork River and four private ponds.


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Roaring Fork Club
100 Arbaney Ranch Rd
Basalt, CO 81621
970-927-9100
www.roaringforkclub.net

Basalt’s exclusive, 675-acre Roaring Fork Club is a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course hugging the gold medal trout waters of the Roaring Fork River. Opened in 1999, the private 18-hole course is inspired by rustic mountain backdrop and characterized by narrow fairways, open alpine meadows, eight ponds, groves of pine and cottonwood, and pristine mountain creeks gurgling throughout play. The Roaring Fork Club is conveniently located 20-minutes away from downtown Aspen. The elegant lodge is more like a rustic genteel hunting camp than a country club, featuring a dining room, stone fireplaces, a golf pro shop, an Orvis-authorized fly shop, and private residences.


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