VAIL — After months of work and much controversy, the Vail Golf Club opened its brand new 18th hole for play on Tuesday.
The new hole, which had been in the works since this past fall, was redesigned, with a different orientation and changes from the old 18th to address some safety issues. The old hole was determined to be unsafe after a study showed that errant golf balls regularly flew long and landed at the clubhouse instead of on the green. Besides the new location, new nets that stand as tall as 130 feet now help remedy those safety concerns.
The new 18th hole presents golfers with new challenges and tee-off options. It features black, blue, gold and green tees that carry water and has been designed to allow different playing opportunities throughout the season.
“It’s a great hole. It’s a modern golf hole, and I think people will be happy with it. It’s challenging and picturesque,” said Mike Ortiz, Executive Director of the Vail Recreation District.
The town used the turf from the old hole on the new project for continuity, and may build some new golfing features where the old green was located.
“We’re looking at some cool things to do with it,” said VRD director of marketing Jamie Gunion. ”We’re thinking of creating a putting course, or other features that will keep it for golf and learning purposes.”
Later in July, the VRD plans to hold a ribbon cutting and celebration to formally unveil the 18th hole to the community. For now, the VRD was mainly concerned with getting the course fully open for the Fourth of July weekend, said Gunion.
The 18th hole is part of a new master plan project for the Vail Golf Course — a project that has been mired in controversy and held up by lawsuits for the past few years. A group of course neighbors opposed the project and filed suit to stop it, along with a related plan to renovate the clubhouse. Neighbors claimed that work on the 18th hole and driving range was part of a broader plan to replace the clubhouse with an “events center,” which would bring unwanted noise, light and traffic to the neighborhood.
A district judge ruled in both cases in favor of the town of Vail, and residents have appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, according to Matt Mire, Vail town attorney.
Nevertheless, the town plans to move forward with plans for the new clubhouse. A start date for construction has not yet been determined.
“We are currently updating cost estimates, timelines, etc., and will report results back to the Council and VRD board in the near future,” said Stan Zemler, Vail Town Manager.
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