A golf course with a brand new ski lift | VailDaily.com

A golf course with a brand new ski lift

Daily Staff Report
Special to the DailyMara, left, and Tim Garton cut down the ropes on Cotton Ranch's new tram between the fourht and fifth holes in Gypsu,. The tram makes Cotton Ranch a very walkable course.

GYPSUM – Cotton Ranch has 14 holes of lush river bottom with water in play on all 14 holes and a mesa, 150 feet above the river bottom with desert-style holes, offering target golf and a whole new experience. The only problem, if indeed it is one, was the 150 vertical feet provided a substantial challenge to the walking golfers, which throughout most of the year Cotton Ranch welcomes.

After eight years, the tram connecting the fourth and fifth holes of the course is finally open.Early difficulties

Early on, the developer, Tim Garton, sought the advice of several companies back in the Midwest who made lift (funicular) systems for cottage owners on lakes in both Michigan and Wisconsin, his birth place. Famed golf designer, Pete Dye, welcomed the opportunity to experiment with the lift system and work progressed. By the time the course opened in June of 1997, the lift was installed and fully operable except for one big glitch. In Colorado, unlike most of the other 49 states in our country, there exists a central tram authority with the responsibility of maintaining and assuring safety on all outdoor people lifting systems.

First, estimates included costs ranging as high as the instillation itself. Years of work and investigation were undertaken to endeavor to make this system, not only operable, but one approved by the “Tram Authority”. For several years achieving this end was deemed either impossible or in any event economically unfeasible. The club sold a membership to Mike Weise in 2003, who promised his considerable experience and effort to assist Cotton Ranch in gaining the approval necessary by installing whatever systems were required. As a result on The Fourth of July this year, nearly eight years since the opening of Cotton Ranch, the funicular, carrying four walking golfers simultaneously, up a 145 foot vertical cliff is now operable. This automatic system is complete with all the necessary safety devices and offers a pleasurable 55-second ride between the fourth green and fifth tee.Vail, Colorado

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