Is Eagle Ranch open? Yes, finally
EAGLE, Colorado Sure, Eagle Ranch has been around since 2001 and is no longer the new kid on the block when it comes to golf courses.But heres the way Jeff Boyer, the courses director of golf operations, really knows this to be true.I used to be able to get away without predicting when opening day was, Boyer said. The phone wouldnt start ringing until the golf course was already open. Now I cant go anywhere without people asking me.Eagle Ranch is finally open, so please leave the nice man alone. After a few false starts, season No. 9 at the Arnold Palmer-designed course is starts today.Eagle Ranch can be excruciatingly long for the sadistic at 7,530 yards, but one of the courses best features is five sets of tees which set up the course properly for golfers of all ages and abilities.Likely the signature holes at Eagle Ranch are Nos. 9 and 18, twin par-4s which lie side-by-side separated by water that doubtless contains a lifetimes worth of Titelists, Nikes and Calloways. Nine and 18 measure 498 and 478 yards, respectively, from the back tees.From whatever set of tee you chose, these two are an adventure. Aside from the obvious advice of stay right on No. 9 and left on 18, Boyer offers the following.Look at more than the actual hole, Boyer said. On the mental side of things, you stand at the tee box and it seems really narrow. There is actually plenty of landing area on both holes. Focus on something on your target line on the horizon and go at that. Focus less on the difficulty of the hole and more on the shot.A back nine with teethThe 18th caps a memorable back nine at Eagle Ranch. Theres a little bit of everything here. The back starts in earnest with the par-3 11th. From the traditional mens blue tees, its 161 yards and uphill. With apologies to Boyer, prayer is a good idea.About the only good place to be besides the green is pin high and left. Short and right, a common location, is usually an offering to the golf gods. Anywhere above the hole eventually turns into an offering to the golf gods because your ensuing chip isnt stopping until its in what is politely called the native grasses.It is really not uncommon to take fives on both the par-3 11th and on the par-5 12th, which plays 533 yards from the blues. On the latter, an elevated tee shot starts the hole, but its all uphill from there. A creek divides the two fairways and Mr. Palmer conveniently placed some bunkers on the right side of the second fairway. Its a great view of the valley from the green once you get there.It is very tempting to swing out of ones shoes on 13. Its a 442-yard, par-4 and all downhill. Just remember that gravity is your friend here and leave your Happy Gilmore swing in the bag.No. 14, a reachable par-4, especially with the wind, is one of Boyers favoritesI really like the setting of it with the New York Mountains in the background, Boyer said. A lot of people can go for it. Its fun for people to step up there and have a chance of getting something back from the golf course.A word to the wise, though, Just like its cousin on the front, the fourth, finding the beach will turn a nice drive into a big number quickly.No. 15 is the second of two drop shots on the course. Both 15 and No. 5 play about a half-a-club shorter than their distances. That said, the wind is against you on five usually, whereas you have the breeze on 15.The par-5, 16th is reachable with a howitzer. Otherwise, plan on three shots to reach the green here. No. 16 starts a difficult finish with its green guarded by a pond which like has many maimed fish in it. The 17th is just tight with sand and native grasses left and the drink right. Right-handed golfers who play all round with a hook naturally find a slice here.New plansEagle Ranch is selling its traditional season passes for town and county residents, punch cards for those in Eagle and birdie books (10 rounds for $650). The course also has two new plans.The first is the value season pass, which is good for unlimited golf from todays opening-May 29 and after Sept. 28 for $350.We get a lot of people who come down from Vail and Eagle-Vail who come down here and play for a good three or four weeks before their courses open up, Boyer said. We also get a lot of people from Summit County early in the season. We thought that the value-season pass might fit into some peoples budgets so they dont have to roam all over the Western Slope.Eagle Ranch also a new weekday pass, which is $850 for Eagle residents and $950 for those in the county.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.