Wow! What a great improvement Lakota Canyon Ranch has made with their new clubhouse! Such an improvement from the old days. The entry even has a live lobster tank! Contrast that to the cold sandwich days in the old building.
I last played Lakota Canyon Ranch July 19, 2018 with a Summit County buddy and we had a wonderful day. This is another Jim Engh designed roller coaster course you need to try. I rank Lakota Canyon Ranch super high on the "fun factor"….especially that beautiful, quiet and secluded front nine.
Some golf purest would criticize the valley fairways and bowl shaped greens as being too forgiving but for the recreational golfer looking for an exciting round with fantastic vistas and lots of elevated tee shots this course is definitely a "must play" for you.
Lakota Canyon Ranch is a mile north of I-70 at exit 105 in New Castle, CO ten miles west of Glenwood Springs. It's just an hour from Aspen and Vail and about 2.5 hours from Denver.
The course was built in 2004 and has received numerous awards nationally as a top ranked affordable public course. Golf Digest listed it among the Top 100 Best Public Courses in American in 2014. It's normally open from May through October. At 5,500' elevation you'll find warmer summer weather and a longer season than the courses in the Vail and Breckenridge areas also reviewed in www.TexasOutside.com.
The front nine is a beautiful and exciting climb up into the mountains just south of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. This nine includes three classic par 5s with seriously elevated tee shots, valley fairways and stadium-style partial bowl greens. Pay close attention to the pin positions and the opportunity to use back stops and side wall bounces when hitting your approach shots to all the Lakota Canyon Ranch greens. The three par 3s on the front nine border on being too tricked up with severe slopes (especially the 9th hole) that you may love or hate depending on the kick and roll you receive on your tee shot. LCR struggles a bit on drainage problems on some fairways which is very typical of Rocky Mountain courses. And some railings along cart paths are looking pretty rough. Again typical of the effects of deep winter snow and run off. But all in all the peaceful beauty especially in the front nine make this course super special.
The back nine is a little more traditional while still showing many signs of Jim Engh's design style. The par 5 18th is Lakota Canyon Ranch's signature hole and it's a classic risk/reward beauty. If you hit a big drive near the end of the first fairway go for the green in two but don't let that shot stray to the right or you're dead. The safer shot is to lay up to the second fairway to your right then hit the shallow green with a good backstop with a lofted iron and one putt for a memorable finishing birdie.
The modest old clubhouse on the ridge was a strike against Lakota Canyon Ranch for years. Well, it's gone now. LCR is now part of Warrior Golf Club Co. and has finally been able to add a nice new clubhouse in its place. The views from the clubhouse and deck are awesome.
New Castle has a few options on dining. My favorite is the 1950's style New Castle Diner in the City Market Shopping Center. Beyond that my recommendation is to go to beautiful and historic Glenwood Springs just a short 10 mile drive away for some of the best of Colorado. See www.glenwoodchamber.com. Recommended lodging includes Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and the Spa of The Rockies with its 103F natural hot springs pool. Also Hampton Inn and several nice B&Bs offer friendly and comfortable lodging options for your visit. Glenwood Springs offers a wonderful variety of dining options including, Fin's Grill, Beau Jo's, Florindo's Italian, Chili's and Rosi's Little Bavarian. Glenwood Springs also has some incredible family fun options including cave tours, gondola ride and a very scary and exciting giant Swingshot 1,300' over the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon for those thrill seekers that have no fear of heights.
You'll long remember your visit to Lakota Canyon Ranch, New Castle and Glenwood Springs. Put it on your list of "Must Do/See/Play".
Writer, Recreation Travel Reviews
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Chris Whelpton, General Manager, and his staff do a fine job of hosting golfers from all over the world to their unique course.
Chris has a strong background in quality customer service including managing high class restaurants. I'd bet the live lobster tank was his idea!