The sharp dogleg left par-four 10th hole at Grand Lake requires just the right distance off the tee if one wants to cut off some yardage on this beautiful downhill hole. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
Dick Phelps was a prolific Colorado golf course architect and his work at the Grand Lake Golf Course serves as quintessential public Rocky Mountain golf at its best. Though you are far from viewing beautiful Grand Lake, the views here are nonetheless sublime. Rolling fairways and small push-up greens with an abundance of lodge pole pines, aspens, and colorful natural flora complement the panoramic views of the mountain just beyond. You feel as if you are playing in nature and I don’t recall seeing any housing.
Whether playing, warming up, or practicing, Grand Lake provides beautiful views. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
While some courses are flat in mountain settings, Grand Lake is more of a truly mountain golf course. The terrain has continual movement, but it still very walkable should one so desire. The shaping is neither modern nor flamboyant, but sensibly reflects a more simple motif. Bunkers tend to be little oval affairs, putting surfaces mostly circular, and fairways are cut in turnpike fashion. What works is that the routing takes this minimalist design and lets the terrain add much of the interest. It’s a good case where interesting terrain doesn’t require much else to be engaging.
The little par-four 9th hole with its sidehill terrain requires precision on both the tee and approach shots. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
Reportedly the facility lost thousands of trees to insects, but there are still many trees to define the look and challenge. Though I didn’t visit the course before the loss, it may have even been a blessing and the layout sans housing has attractive vistas across the fairways.
Even without a lip, you don’t want to find this fairway bunker on the par-five 12th. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
If you are looking for pure, public-access golf and can do without stylized mounding, bunkering, and greens, Grand Lake is a little gem of a golf course you will thoroughly enjoy!
Maybe the best is saved for last. Below is the risk-and-reward that faces players hoping to putt for an eagle on the par-five finishing hole at Grand Lake. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)