Eagle-Vail Golf Club opens Thursday
EAGLE-VAIL – Saturday, May 1 was the Eagle-Vail Golf Club’s opening day for its lower 10 holes – the full 18 open today.
It snowed, and honestly, it snows every Eagle-Vail opens 10 holes. If head golf professional Ben Welsh scheduled opening day for Aug. 1, we’d get 3 feet.
But now that the snow has melted, Eagle-Vail reveals itself to be different kind of golf test than other courses in Eagle County. This loop is not long by any stretch. The regular tees are just 6,204 yards and the tips are 6,590.
However, with a thin fairways, trouble in the form of water and/or forest, tricky greens and elevation change, Eagle-Vail is memorable track for tourists and locals alike.
Elevation change becomes apparent on the opening hole, a 535 yard, par-5 where golfers hit about 70 feet down onto the fairway. The main trouble here to avoid is the left bunker, which looks like a greenside bunker, but really isn’t. Don’t go there and save yourself a big number to start.
The second is a risk-reward par-4, which doglegs right. You can cut the corner, but there is a bunker as well as two trees guarding that play. Said trees have a nasty tendency to disprove the old saying, “Trees are 90 percent air.”
Eagle-Vail heads north of Highway 6 for four seemingly innocuous holes. If you remember one thing before playing this course, it’s that these four greens break towards the Eagle River.
No. 5 is a 127-yard, par-3 over the Eagle. When the greens are running, do be below the pin. If the flag’s in front, prayer is really good idea. The sixth is only a 267-yard, par-4, very drivable, but try not to kill a kayaker as the Eagle runs along the left. The smart play here is a long iron to the fairway and a wedge into the green. Remember you get a free drop out of Daisy’s Garden, which divides a shared green with No. 3.
Eagle Vail heads west, starting with No. 7, a tough par-4 with water left -and increasingly so as you approach the green – and out-of-bounds right. Unless you feel good with your long irons/hybrids, a lay-up isn’t the worst thing in the world here.
The par-5 eighth is reachable. You do want to be on the right to get a good look at either of the two putting surfaces for this hole – there is a sign at the beginning of this to tell you left or right green. But in a delightful twist of fate, if you’re even the slightest bit right, the fairway slides straight into Stone Creek. Try center-left off the tee and let the fairway do the rest.
The ninth is No. 1 on the card and there are two approaches for this downhill par-4. The gamble is a slightly-right tee shot with driver. If it’s correct, you’ve got a pitching wedge in to a green which slopes away from you. Be mindful that O.B. is all along the right side and this fairway can take some “interesting” bounces.
The conventional play is your-200-yard club off the tee. That leaves you with a second shot that is downhill all the way. The roll is your friend.
Definitely club down on No. 10 and get the camera out. This par-3 is 197 from the tips and 131 from the whites. It’s your 150 or 100 club, respectively here.
The turn really comes at 11 at Eagle-Vail, and it’s the first of three par-5s on the back. Even fortified with a bratwurst from the halfway house, this one has the author’s vote for the No. 1 handicap. Stone Creek splits the fairway and lines the right of the second landing area.
This however is not apparent to those standing on the first fairway. To get there in two, you need a bomb of a drive and to be feeling really good with a 3- or 4-iron. If you do play this as a three-shotter, be mindful of the Chris Freud Memorial Bunker that guards the left of the green.
Nos. 12 and 13 are pretty straightforward. Water’s right on 12 and the 13th green goes right-to-left like Sen. Arlen Specter. Make hay on the par-5, 14th because Eagle-Vail’s teeth comes with its finishing stretch in aspen grove.
Nos. 15 and 16 are short par-4s to greens guarded by water. Most should put the driver away on these holes. The key on both holes is to get at your happy distance for the approach. On the second shot on 15, aim a little bit right because you will get a kick into the two-tiered green. On 16, we wish you luck sticking that green. When 16 is moving in the summer months, putting is adventure. These two holes generally decide your match (not that we endorse wagering) or your quest to break 100-90-80.
And if you’re betting – double down on 18. It’s a book-end cliff-shot par-5 and birdie can be in the cards to end the day.
Check out eaglevailgolfclub.com has complete information on rates, season passes and punch cards. … Eagle Vail has a driving range, and a great short-game practice facility with putting and chipping greens. … There’s also the Willow Creek Par-3, a nice place for families, beginner golfers or anyone looking to work on their short game. The par-3 opens this weekend. … Ladies and Men’s League are Tuesdays. We give a shoutout to Eagle-Vail’s Chris Shaffer who says his beloved Raiders are going 9-7. We say 5-11. … To book a tee time, call 970-949-5267.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.