Eagle Ranch ready for new year
EAGLE, Colorado – Happy 10th anniversary to the Eagle Ranch Golf Club.
Yes, the new kid on the block is really not the new kid on the block anymore, but this Arnold Palmer design has really become a part of the fabric of the community. The course has its avid regulars, its snowbirds from the eastern side of the country who come in the spring and the fall as well as out-of towners.
“We’re still close to Vail and Beaver Creek, but we have become a locals’ course,” Eagle Ranch director of golf Jeff Boyer said. “We have a lot of people who come from upvalley, and then we never see them during the summer. We have our regulars who have supported us. I think we have a great layout that is every playable and extremely challenging at the same time.”
Five sets of tees, ranging from 5,497 yards to the tips at 7, 530, makes it so, and whether you are tourist or know the course like the back of your hand, it is never a dull day at Eagle Ranch.
If you like to hit your driver, this is the place. But the good news is that if you’re playing from the right set of tees you don’t have many forced carries.
The first challenge at Eagle Ranch is the par-5 second, which is 554 yards from the blue tees. Do avoid the native grasses, which are plentiful all over the course, as well as the big bunker which guards the left side of the green. No. 3 – par-4, 418 yards – requires golfers to make a decision on their second shot. There is a creek before the putting surface which has a nasty tendency to swallow golf balls.
No. 4 is a respite from the length, a par-4 at only 327 yards, but Arnold Palmer put a gigantic bunker to the left of the fairway there for a reason. A nice 280-300-yard drive can quickly turn into an ugly number.
No. 5 is the first of two dropping par-3s – its cousin is No. 15 on the back. On the card, No. 6 seems pretty tame for a par-5 at 507 yards. Your mileage may vary as the sixth tends to play into the wind.
The front finishes with the first of “The Twins,” Nos. 9 and 18. They sit side-by-side separated by water, which doubtless has a lifetime’s supply of your favorite brand of golf ball. No. 9 is 443 yards from the blues and a whopping 498 from the tips. The King himself needed a driver and a 4-iron to reach the green from those black tees when the course opened 10 years ago.
Starting with No. 11, Eagle Ranch starts its way into the foothills. This is quite possibly the toughest par-3 in the county. It’s only 161 yards from the blues, but trouble abounds with water and native grasses right and bunkers left and above the hole. The author has bogeyed this hole a few times and considers those to be among his greatest moments in golf.
It’s not unusual to card a five on No. 11 and do the same on the 12th, which is fine because the latter is a par-5. If you’re a little frustrated at this point, take it out on No. 13 because the par-4 is downhill all the way,
No. 14 is a classic Palmer hole. It’s reachable, but you risk sand and other places you don’t want to be.
After the par-3 15th comes an extremely long and challenging finish. The 16th is 569 yards from the blues and very rarely reached in two. The latter part of the hole snakes around a scenic, but evil pond. The 17th is just tight, and Palmer added a nice touch for this one and the home hole – water right for the slicer or for those right-handed hitters getting a little tired at the end of the day.
If you get through Nos. 16-18 relatively unscathed, you’ve done a good day’s work.
Eagle Ranch offers numerous memberships, including full-season, weekday and value-season passes. The last has become increasingly popular with upvalley golfers who are waiting for Vail and Eagle-Vail to open. Check out eagleranchgolf.com for all the details. … Eagle Ranch hosts the tee part of the Chad Fleischer Ski and Tee Tournament April 15. … Men’s and Ladies League starts in the second week of May … First Tee is also based at Eagle Ranch. … The club has new head pro in Nate Corsbie. … For tee times, call 328-2882.
Signature hole(s): Nos. 9 and 18 … You always think of them at Eagle Ranch
Wow factor: No. 12 … The view from the green is awesome.
Birdie chances: Nos. 7 and 14.
Toughest bunker: No. 4 … Bring a towel.
Freud’s favorite: No. 17 … Don’t ask. For some reason,. I play it well.