Eagle-Vail G.C opens for business
With an early snow melt, course renovations from last season completed and a host of new programs, director of golf operations Mark Kizzire looks for a fun year out on the links.
“After many years of being in the business, I think I’m probably more excited this year than I have been in a long, long time,” he said. “The soil temperatures are rising daily. The turf is just exploding. We’re way ahead of the game compared to my two previous years.”
Plenty of challenges await golfers over the 6,819-yard course from the tips. As the course winds its way by the Eagle River, through Eagle-Vail and the surrounding hills, golfers experience a little bit of everything with numerous elevation changes and water on 11 holes.
“It’s a true mountain golf experience that has a high degree of difficulty,” Kizzire said. “We have so many elevated tee shots and elevated par-3 tee boxes. It’s always fun to watch the ball go high in the air. That’s what I enjoy.”
That fun starts on the par-5, 552-yard opening hole, where players get to grip it and rip it from a high tee box onto a good-sized fairway. The course works its way north of Highway 6 through Little Eisenhower Tunnel for four holes which test your accuracy. North of Highway 6, be advised that the greens break toward the Eagle River.
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Then it’s off to No. 7, a demanding 411-yard, par-4, which has a narrow fairway with plenty of water on the left and out of bounds on the right. The front nine finishes up what is likely the course’s signature hole – a downhill 462-yard, par-4. The tee shot comes from an elevated tee box through a chute of trees out onto a widening fairway.
The back nine starts with a bang with a drop-shot, par three. Shots on this 208-yarder have a ton of hang time so club down and pay attention to the wind.
As the course comes back east, it works its way up into the surrounding hills in Eagle-Vail. Starting on the 14th hole until the final putt on the 18th green, Eagle-Vail has an enjoyable and thoroughly challenging finish as can be found on a public course.
Eagle-Vail has no major changes planned until the fall when a new $2-million irrigation system will be put in. In the meantime, golfers can enjoy the latest round of renovations, which included an refurbished green on the 15th and a bigger tee box on 18.
Another of later year’s improvements was an expanded practice facility with a full range, two putting surfaces and a chipping green.
“All aspects of the golf swing and specific short-game shots can be dealt with here from the bunkers to the pitch and the chip,” Kizzire said. “We’ve got two 11,000-square foot greens down there. So it’s been very beneficial to the instructors, but equally beneficial to the community.”
Another good place for beginners to learn the game – and a good place for golfers to work on their short game – is the Willow Creek par-3 course. The pitch-and-putt course opens May 11. Greens fees for Willow Creek are $15 per round. There’s also a preferred-golfer pass of 10 rounds for $100 at Willow Creek and, with a Vail Valley Junior Golf Association cards, young players under 18 can get 10 days of golf at the par-3 for $100.
On the 18-hole course, for non-Eagle-Vail residents, early season rates are $60 per round with cart. Come high season on June 28, the rate moves to $105. Walking is allowed after 3:30 p.m. in the spring season and after 5 p.m. during the high season.
New for 2002 is the preferred-golfer pass, which is 10 rounds of golf, including cart, for $550. There are a limited number of passes available and they’re going fast, according to Kizzire.
“We’ve got a market here that loves to play golf and we’ve really made an attempt to make golf affordable for the local community,” Kizzire said.
In other Eagle-Vail news:
n There are numerous junior golf programs going on this summer. There will be a junior golf Kickoff Morning at Willow Creek May 25. There will be summer camps throughout June for kids 6-18 as well as Early Bird Junior Golf starting June 19, where capable players will tee off from the 11th and play the back eight.
n For the novice, there is the 2002 Beginner Special Instruction Series on June 2, 9 and 16 to work with Eagle-Vail’s staff on the basics.
n There’s also the 2002 Summer Golf Instruction Program for adult golfers. The monthly sessions on Mondays will cover woods, iron play, chipping, bunkers and putting.
n Personal instruction from the club’s teaching program, headed by Buster Reid, is available. Mark Mobley, a PGA apprentice, has joined the staff, as will five interns from the Ferris State golf-management program.
n Tournament play begins at the end of the month with the Vail Firefighters Tournament on May 19. Other tourneys on tap include the Daisy Palmer Invitational (Sept. 12), the Fall Men’s Four Ball Invitational (Sept. 14-15) and the Crimestoppers Tournament (Sept. 20).
n Men’s and Women’s league are scheduled to start in a couple of weeks.
For more information on the Eagle-Vail Golf Club, call 949-5267.