Eagle-Vail G.C. opens all 18 | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail G.C. opens all 18

SPT eagle-vail golf1 KA 5-19-07

EAGLE-VAIL – Welcome to the Eagle-Vail Golf Club, where a fishing rod and a beach towel might be a good addition to one’s traditional golf attire. In a time when the difficulty of course is often measured by Herculean length, Eagle-Vail, which has all 18 holes open, is a welcome throwback. The tips measure 6,819 yards, but the standard white tees at 6,160 yards provide an ample golfing experience.”I’d like to say that it involves more shot making than traditional courses, where you can hit it four fairways over and still make par.” Eagle-Vail head professional Ben Welsh said. “Eagle-Vail demands that you keep it in play, and the length makes it playable for everyone, but challenging for everyone.”That’s where ye olde fishing rod and beach towel enter. With the Eagle River and Stone Creek coming into play 12 holes and nearly 60 bunkers located around the course – only the 16th is without sand – not to mention elevation changes galore, Eagle-Vail has a little something for everyone.And until Wednesday, Eagle-Vail has an opening rate of $4.

The element of mountain golf at Eagle-Vail is apparent from the first tee. Golfers start the round with an elevated tee shot down onto a 517-yard, par-5. Watch out for the greenside bunkers on your approach. This is a theme at this loop.After the dogleg right second, players go through Little Eisenhower Tunnel to four holes north of U.S. Highway 6. New for 2007 are the renovated blue tees on No. 3, measuring 215 yards. From whatever tees you play, these four holes are tight.The third has the Eagle River to its right and both the fifth and the sixth cross the river. The local rule of thumb for these four holes is that the greens slope severely toward the water.

No. 6 is a typical risk-reward hole at Eagle-Vail. It’s only 273 yards from the whites, so the big stick or a long iron can get you there. But with the Eagle looming to your left, do so at your own peril. No. 7 is just a great par-4. With O.B. stakes to your right and Stone Creek on the left, the hole narrows as you approach the green. Eight is a par-5 which usually plays longer with wind from the west. There are two greens at the end of eight, so please note the pin position. Welsh said that due to extensive work on the course, the left green should be in play more than in years past during early-season play.

After eight, it’s up into the hills for the par-4 ninth, ranked No. 1 on the card. It’s a blind tee shot at 462 yards from the blues and 434 from the whites.With its length, it’s tempting to pull driver, but longer hitter should resist the urge. No. 9 opens up to the right and is downhill all the way. “I like to hit more of a controlled club off of the tee, something that I know that I can find because it’s so far downhill,” Welsh said. “Even when you get to the fairway and it’s a 200-yard shot (to the green, it) will play more about 150. So you don’t need as much length of the tee as you think. In fact, most people hit it too far down the left side. Length is all relative, but I hit a 4-iron off of the blue tees.”No. 10 is a jaw-dropper. Even if you’re playing the whites, take a peek at the tips here. It’s 208 yards from the blues, but it’s a long ways down. For most, an 8- or a 7-iron will do the trick.

Golfers make the turn technically at 11 at Eagle-Vail and the back starts with a par-5 on 11 that challenges No. 9 for the most difficult hole on the course. The hole’s landing areas are split in half by Stone Creek, and the water is all-too inviting on your approach to the green. No. 14, another par-5, begins Eagle-Vail’s meander into an Aspen grove.”No. 14 is my favorite,” Welsh said. “It’s a long par-5 that you can let it rip off the box. If you hit a good one, you can go for it in two. It’s also a beautiful hole backed up against the mountains. It’s always quiet back there.”Fifteen isn’t long, but it has all sorts of danger. You need about 220 yards off the tee to set up an approach to an elevated two-tiered green fronted by water and a bunker. Pin position is vital here as landing on the wrong level pretty much spells three-putt.By 16 and 17, golfers are in the woods, setting up a spectacular finish. No. 18 is a bookend par-5 to No. 1 with the fairway sloping all the way down to the green.”I always like 16, 17 and 18,” Welsh said. “They’re great ways to end your round. They can be scoring holes if you hit them in the right places. They can completely ruin your round if you hit them in the wrong places. I think that 18 is a great opportunity to finish with a birdie. It’s all downhill, but the tee shot has to be perfect.”

Season passes and punch cards are available. Check out all the details at EagleVailGolfClub.com. … Eagle-Vail offers men’s and women’s leagues on Tuesdays. … Eagle-Vail’s practice facility, with a full driving range as well as two putting surfaces and a chipping green is open. The Willow Creek Par-3, a good place for families, beginners and anyone wanting to work on his or her short game, opens Memorial Day weekend. For more information on Eagle-Vail, call (970) 949-5267.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

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