Eagle-Vail GC opens Saturday
Snow? What snow?
Despite the recent late season white stuff, the Eagle-Vail Golf Club is opening all 18 holes Saturday, one of its earliest openings in recent memory.
And to celebrate, Eagle-Vail’s greens fees are $40 through April 30.
“As an appreciation to our locals, we want them to come back and enjoy Eagle-Vail,” new head pro Zachary Ray said.
Ray is a familiar face to Eagle-Vail. He worked there as an assistant in 1998 and 1999 before taking a position the last five years at Eagle Springs. When the opening for the head pro job opened at Eagle-Vail, it was a natural fit for him.
“It’s a great course,” Ray said. “I’ve always enjoyed playing here. Every time I teed it up, it was a different experience.
“Out of all the daily fee courses, we’re the only real mountain course. A lot of our holes are truly mountain holes. I’d say that Eagle-Vail obviously puts a premium on good shot making and ball placement. Good course management will get you through this course, obviously.”
Eagle-Vail truly features a little bit of everything – elevation changes galore, five par-5s blind tee shots, tricky par-3s and plenty of water and bunkers to eat up your golf ball.
The course starts with likely the best opening hole of the courses available to local, regular golfers. Pull driver and let it rip off a 150-foot cliff to start the par-5, 552-yard first. Going for the green in two is possible here, but a bevy of bunkers around the green may thwart your chance for birdie.
After the dogleg right second, you travel through “Little Eisenhower Tunnel” underneath Highway 6 for four short, but very tricky holes. A local’s tip here – all the greens on the north side of the highway break sharply toward the Eagle River.
No. 6 epitomizes the risk-reward theme of Eagle-Vail. This par-4 is just 301 yards from the tips. It’s reachable, but fraught with danger. If you can thread it between the large pine tree to the right and the Eagle River on the left, you’re golden, possibly looking at an eagle putt. You miss? You’re in the drink or playing the fourth fairway again.
Back through the tunnel is No. 7 – a very challenging 411-yard, par-4. Water runs all along the left side of this fairway which narrows as you approach the big green, guarded by bunkers right and back and a pond in front and left.
After No. 8, a par-5, 538-yarder – do check to which green to which you are hitting – comes one of Eagle-Vail’s signature holes. From the tips, No. 9 is 462-yarder with a blind tee shot through a chute of trees. The hole opens up to the right and plays downhill.
Now is the time to avoid temptation. Put the driver away – so you don’t hit a condo or send one into the forest – and listen to the pro.
“I use a 4-iron. I plan on leaving myself about 175 (yards),” Ray said. “I don’t get greedy on that hole. Just play it smart. Keep it in play. You hit a club that flies about 230, then you have the most generous landing area.”
Most people play from the whites at Eagle-Vail, but on No. 10, you really have to take a poke from the blues – unless you’re scared of heights. The 208-yard, par-3 drops 250 feet on the green. Watch the wind and, for the love of everything holy, club down.
Technically, you make the turn at 11 at Eagle-Vail and the back starts with 565 yards-worth of par-5 fun. The fairway is split by Stone Creek and a pond guards the entire right side making going for it a difficult prospect. Your mileage may vary.
By the time you hit 14 – yet another par-5 at 565 yards – you’re working your way back into the hills and beginning one of about the most beautiful finishes as you’ll find anywhere. No. 14 is long, but straightaway and a definite birdie possibility for big hitters. As a sidenote, that front right bunker was put there for a reason.
No. 15 may be No. 2 on the card, but for our money, it’s the hardest hole on the course. Playing 377 yards from a secluded tee box nestled right next to some guy’s hot tub, again, put the big dog away and hit your 220- to 240-club to the right side of the fairway. If you go left, you’re either in the drink or you won’t have a good view of the elevated, two-tiered green.
Speaking of those tiers, do take into account the pin placement on this hole. If you’re on the wrong level, three-putting is all but inevitable.
No. 16 is another blind tee shot with the fairway split by water. Ignore the distances on the sprinkler heads and club up in your approach to one of the slickest greens on the course.
After the 17, a par-3 nestled into the woods, Eagle-Vail ends in style with a bookend par-5 that has a booming tee shot off a cliff.
Season passes, rates and offers
Season passes for Eagle-Vail residents remain at $650. New for 2004 are Eagle County passes ($1,150) and nonresident passes (1,450). Carts are $20 per round. But, there is a season-cart pass for $500. If you’re planning on teeing it up 25 times, which is not uncommon for golf junkies like us, that’s a money-saver.
Season passes will be restricted for tee time between 8 a.m.- noon during peak season , which runs from June 26-Sept. 19. However, Ray said that tee times will be made during restricted times on a space available basis for passholders.
Daily fees are down this year at Eagle-Vail. The following rates for the following pricing seasons are listed by nonresident, Eagle County Resident and Eagle-Vail resident, respectively:
n Shoulder season (Saturday-May 28 and Sept. 20 through closing): $60, $50 and 40; After noon – $55, $45 and $40.
n Value season (May 29-June 25): $75, $65 and $55; After noon – $65, $55 and $50.
n Peak season (June 26-Sept. 19): $89, $79 and $69; Noon-4 p.m. – $75, $65, and $55; After 4 p.m. – $55, $45 and $40.
The punch card is back This is 10 rounds of golf for $550 (Eagle-Vail residents); $600 (Eagle County residents) and $650 for nonresidents.
Looking for some variety? There’s always the Golf Vail Valley 10-Round Voucher Book. That’s 10 rounds for $750 at either Vail, Eagle-Vail, Eagle Ranch and Cotton Ranch. Check out http://www.golfvailvalley.com for more details.
Eagle-Vail also features the Willow Creek Par-3 (845-PAR3). This nine-hole pitch-and-putt is great for beginners, families and anybody looking to work on his or her short game. The fee is $15 for adults, $10 for juniors and you can get a 10-round punch card for $100. Eagle-Vail passholders play for free. … Another great place to get some work in is Eagle-Vail’s practice facility. There’s a full-fledged driving range. To the right are two 11,000-square foot practice-putting greens as well as a chipping area to work on your short and sand games. … Leagues: Ladies League is Tuesday mornings at 9. Men’s League is Tuesday afternoons at 1. Eagle-Vail will also be starting a Junior League at Willow Creek. … Eagle-Vail will be hosting a myriad of clinics. Check out http://www.eaglevail.org for details. … Group and individual lessons are also available. … For more information on Eagle-Vail or to book a tee time, call (970) 949-5267.