Designed by Gary Player, Rio Colorado Golf Club opened for play in 1994. Rio Colorado is one of the those golf courses that if you can keep the ball in the fairway avoiding the water on 16 holes and stay out of bounds, you'll have an enjoyable round of golf at a very good value. If you tend to spray the ball it may be a costly and frustrating round.
The front nine at Rio Colorado Golf Club is the easier of the nines and is very open and forgiving. However, the prevailing winds, water, on nine holes, and 23 bunkers force you to pay attention and choose clubs that provide accuracy rather than distance. The front nine has 3 par 3s, 3 par 5s, and 3 par 4s which makes this nine interesting. You'll also find some fun holes like #1 which is a 438 par 5 that takes a 90 degree turn left around a lake, has two fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway and based on the length of your drive you will most likely have an opportunity to risk it and fly the lake to the green or play safe and follow the lake to the green with water and two more bunkers plus a steep slope toward the water; and #5, the #1 handicap hole, is only 370 yards but trees on the left and a lone tree on the right side of the fairway pinch the fairway off the tee box and then you need to be accurate to avoid the water and two bunkers that guard the green.
The back nine at Rio Colorado Golf Club is more fun, scenic, and challenging with some very fun and interesting holes. The back nine seems tighter with tree lined fairways, water on six holes, several out of bounds, and some fairway bunkers as well as bunkers guarding your approach shot to the green. Our favorite holes on this nine include:
- #13 a 416 yard par 5 that requires accuracy tee to green and a good strategy to avoid the water crossing in front of the green about 100 yards out
- the signature hole, #14 plays above the banks of the Colorado River (miss the fairway by 10 feet or so on the right and you're gone) and takes a turn right to a green with two small oval bunkers on the left and the steep drop off to the river on the right – leave the big dogs in the bag and use an iron or short fairway wood off the tee on this fun 328 yard par 5
- 17 is also a great hole – 393 yard par 4 with water tee to green, two strategically place fairway bunkers that pinch the landing zone, and a challenging approach to a green with water and two bunkers on the left plus mounding on all sides that makes for a challenging up and down shot if you miss the green
The fairways at Rio Colorado Golf Club range from ample on the front to a little tight on the back nine. The harsh winter, severe drought, and record heat had taken a toll on the rough and fairways but they were still very playable. The roughs are wide but if you miss them you're in the trees, wet, in a natural area and lost, or out of bounds. The roughs suffered the most thanks to the harsh conditions and were pretty rough.
The greens ranged in shape and size for average to huge – but I still had a hard time nailing them – and all had a wide puttable fringe with lots of slope and contour. Most of the Rio Colorado Golf Club greens had some slope and minor undulation and a few subtle breaks. They seemed a little slow and were a tad bumpy but overall in very good condition. Most are well guarded with a bunker or two, water, mounding, slope away from the green, or grass bunkers.
The bunkers were wet thanks to a rain (wow, it still knows how to do that occasionally!) and not playable. The sand looked like it was soft and thick. The lips were small and very manageable and in some cases you might get lucky and roll out.
Bottom line – a fun track that is very fair, fun, and at times demanding with some great holes, good conditions, and a great value.
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The facilities are a little dated, the pro shop has the basics, and the putting green and driving range are adequate. Service is country friendly.