Aspen Golf Club was rated the as the #21 Best U.S. Municipal Golf Course by Golfweek Magazine for 2009/2010– and what a fantastic track and a real pleasure to play. It is a traditional highland course in a mountain setting but “not tricked out” like some of the other mountain courses and has some of the truest greens in the valley, according to one of the Aspen Golf Club pros.
The course meanders through what was a potato farm and is surrounded by majestic peaks and mountains of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Trees line the fairways and at times it felt surreal and like we were playing golf through a Christmas tree farm – tall and wide blue spruce that I can image decorated to the hilt with twinkling lights of all colors, tinsel, and Christmas tree ornaments. Every hole would be a signature hole in Texas and each hole offers breathtaking views from a different perspective – it’s so scenic it was hard to concentrate on golf.
As you play around Aspen Golf Course, you have a 360 degree panoramic view of majestic snow covered peaks, tree covered or jagged rocky slopes, ski runs from two different ski areas, and paragliders circling Aspen Mountain. I was tempted to open a lawn chair and pop a beer and just enjoy the view. And we found it hard to leave their patio which offers a fantastic view of the mountains and the 18thhole.
The other thing we noticed is that all of the creeks and ponds are crystal clear (whereas most Texas water features are brown and mossy) making it very easy to find my golf balls. Aspen Golf Club has got to be one of the most scenic courses that we have played, except for one course in Hawaii and one in Cabo San Lucas.
Not only is this a scenic track but it’s also a fun layout – each nine has a different personality and feel, every hole is a little different, and you’ll encounter a little bit of everything that makes golf fun and challenging. Some of what you need to manage as you play a round at Aspen Golf Club include: the impact of the altitude on distance, 35 bunkers, crystal clear ponds or creeks on 16 holes, tight twisting/dog leg fairways, thick challenging rough, and elevated tee boxes and greens. You’ll get to play a variety of clubs and target golf skills and excellent course management are critical to scoring well. On a couple holes you can leave the driver in the bag, on others you can let it rip, and on some you’ll have an excellent risk reward shot for a potential eagle or birdie!
Each nine is a little different – the front is more tree-lined and the back seems a little more open. We thought the front was a little more scenic and challenging with some very fun holes. The back has a beautiful par three with carry over a clear pond and a fantastic finishing hole with a patio full of golfers watching your approach to a slightly up hill green with a cascading creek protecting the front and a bunker and pond in back waiting to catch the long shots. You might hear a clap, a laugh, or a “wow!”
Some examples of fun courses include: #4 is a sharp dog leg right where if you can fly the trees, avoid the water and fairway bunkers, and land in the narrow fairway leading to an uphill green you might birdie this great hole; on #7 you might want to leave the driver in the bag on this fun dog leg left that requires a precise drive to a tight landing zone guarded by trees, water on both sides and a bunker; or #10 that offers a very precise drive or offers a risk reward shot off the box to a downhill dog leg left well guarded turtle top green; or #15 which takes you down a narrow fairway guarded by a variety of beautiful trees and two ponds with crystal clear water.
The fairways were in perfect condition and lush and thick and most were tight. The first cut was thick but playable. The bunkers were about average size with thin course sand and most are low lipped, meaning that you had a good chance of rolling out of the trap and back to the rough or fairway. I was lucky enough to find the few bunkers protecting the greens that were deep and steep. Most of the fairways are tree lined, a couple have some beautiful mountain homes, and some are side by side.
The greens are a mixture of bent and poly anna which is the same as the greens at Pebble Beach. They were in perfect condition, about average size, hard to hold, fast (9 to 10), very true, and challenging. You need to practice your putting if you want to score well here. The greens are what make Aspen Golf Course challenging thanks to severe slope, undulation, and ridges which can add several strokes to your score. You need to try to stay below the hole – miss on the high side and the ball will run on you. It was not uncommon to see the ball break a couple different directions and go sailing past the hole. Most of the Aspen Golf Club greens are elevated – if you can’t hold them you’ll have a challenging chip shot.
Bottom line – a must play if you’re anywhere near Aspen – a fun, extremely scenic, and enjoyable track offering an opportunity to score well if you pick the right set of tee boxes, can hit ‘um straight, and putt.
The first three pictures were taken by Keith Barnholt one of the pros at Aspen Golf Course
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Service is excellent and very friendly. The practice facilities are very good and the pro shop is well stocked. The food and patio are excellent.