Links to Heaven

 Mariana Butte.  Photo courtesy Mariana Butte

Mariana Butte. Photo courtesy Mariana Butte

Get Your Swing On at These Colorado Gems

By Dylan Hochstedler

From the eastern plains to over 9,000 feet above sea level, Colorado offers golf courses to challenge everyone from the struggling duffer to the PGA contender. 

Blast one off a towering cliff at Arrowhead Golf Course or tee up in the city while enjoying views of the Denver skyline and the Continental Divide. 

According to the Colorado Golf Association, of the 223 courses in Colorado, 144 are public, while 55 courses are private. There are 16 resort courses, meaning you have to stay at the resort that houses the golf course to have access to the greens. Additionally, there are five semi-private courses and three military courses. 

With the help of Chris Thayer, the 2016 Colorado Golf Association Mid-Amateur Player of the Year, and former pro Steve Irwin, we’ve compiled some ideas to add to your bucket list as you explore Colorado’s links.

Remember, there’s an overriding theme in the state that the Colorado Rockies learned about long ago. “I’ve played a bunch of courses in Colorado and there’s a lot of really good public ones,” Thayer said. “The one thing in Colorado that’s fun – but also a bit of a challenge -- is that the ball flies further than it does at sea level, with a slightly different trajectory.” 


Haymaker Golf Course - Steamboat Springs

With a spectacular Mount Werner backdrop, this Yampa Valley golf course offers alpine views of the Flat Top mountain range and other scenery native to the wetlands. 

“Haymaker Golf Course is one of the wonderful courses I’ve played in the mountains,” Irwin said. “You can’t beat the views. Steamboat is a great town and Haymaker is one of my favorite Colorado courses,” he said. 


Mariana Butte Golf Course - Loveland

“We did a survey with our CGA members and asked them their favorite courses to play around the state and a few of them stood out,” said Ryan Smith of the Colorado Golf Association. “Headed north, the course that our members said was their favorite is Mariana Butte, in Loveland.”

With elevated tees and challenging holes that border the Big Thompson River, Mariana Butte is the proud recipient of the 2018 Reader’s Choice CAGGY Award for Best Front Range/Northeast Course by Colorado AvidGolfer. 


 Iron Bridge.  Photo: Dick Durrance

Iron Bridge. Photo: Dick Durrance

Iron Bridge Golf Club – Glenwood Springs

Combining elements of a country club and a public course, this semi-private community in the Glenwood Springs area offers the complete package. 

The front nine plays like a meadow course, with flat terrain and water hazards, while 10-13 offer a stretch of mountain- and canyon-type of terrain. By the time you climb up to the 14th tee box and play the remaining holes, you’ll feel like you’ve played three entirely different courses. 


 Arrowhead.  Photo courtesy Arrowhead

Arrowhead. Photo courtesy Arrowhead

Arrowhead Golf Course - Littleton

Long a favorite for those looking to experience a mountain course just 30 minutes from Denver, Arrowhead Golf Course is as beautiful as it is relaxing. Surrounded by red sandstone, the greens are perfect from morning to evening. Wildlife might break your concentration at times, and holes like the 13th will force you to pause as you look down a steep hill and see that small green just 174 yards away. It’s a breathtaking par 3. 


 Lakota Canyon.  Photo courtesy Colorado Golf Association

Lakota Canyon. Photo courtesy Colorado Golf Association

Lakota Canyon Ranch & Golf Club - New Castle

This challenging course is highlighted by impressive views and meandering fairways that are suitable for all levels of players. The course was designed by renowned architect James Engh and features numerous elevated tee boxes for grand views of the course and nearby mountain vistas. 

Lakota Canyon is easily accessible in the I-70 corridor, which is a quick getaway option from Vail, Aspen and even Grand Junction. 


The Golf Club at Bear Dance - Larkspur

At Bear Dance, you’re in for a serene experience. Every hole is set apart, making it feel as if every stroke is putting you further and further from the hustle and bustle of city life. Equidistant from Denver and Colorado Springs, this course delivers 18 holes of championship golf amid great views of the Front Range. Towering Ponderosa pines enclose many of the holes. Wildlife watching is never out of the question. Think of the course as 7,726 yards of peace of mind. 


 Telluride Golf Club.  Photo: Telluride Ski Resort | Brett Scheckengost

Telluride Golf Club. Photo: Telluride Ski Resort | Brett Scheckengost

Telluride Golf Club - Telluride

Where else can you tee off at 9,417 feet amidst wildflowers and a 14,000-foot peak? Telluride Golf Club features an 18-hole, par-70 course set on the picturesque Turkey Creek Mesa. Three distinct mountain landmarks make for a trifecta of viewing pleasures as you swing from one hole to the next. The Sneffels Range, San Sophia Range and Mount Wilson provide a backdrop of sweeping forests of aspens and glades of wildflowers. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the ball because it could end up deep in the timber.

With 300 days of sunshine each year, there is an opportunity to play every course in Colorado in the upcoming year. Forget about jobs and other obligations. Hit the links!


There are numerous courses you should take a swing at this summer, but here are a few of the most challenging favorites.

Public Courses

  • Red Sky Ranch, Wolcott
  • The Broadmoor (stay and play), Colorado Springs
  • The Ridge at Castle Pines North, Castle Pines
  • The Golf Course at Redlands Mesa, Grand Junction 

Private Courses

  • Castle Pines, Castle Rock
  • Ballyneal, Holyoke
  • Cherry Hills, Cherry Hills Village
  • Colorado Golf Club, Parker
  • Maroon Creek Club, Aspen
  • Roaring Fork Club, Basalt
  • Catamount Ranch & Club, Steamboat Springs

Recent Metro State University of Denver graduate Dylan Hochstedler enjoys exploring and writing about the Colorado scene.