You will have reached for your camera several times before encountering the gorgeous par-three 8th hole, and be careful with your club selection. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
I’ve played many golf courses, more than 3,000 and counting. There are many nice ones among that lot, but Jim Engh’s creation upon the almost moonscape-looking terrain overlooking Grand Junction qualifies as a “Bucket List Course” one – spectacular and full of character.
Nicely manicured green fairways and putting surfaces stand out in stark contrast to the rugged, rocky high desert that frames Redlands Mesa. Shown above is the uphill par-four 7th. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
If you have a camera, this is definitely one course you will constantly be reaching for it as there is one “Oh Wow!” hole after another. Green ribbons of fairway splice the high desert and rocks to produce an exhilarating golf experience. There are several ponds to contend with as well. Fellow golf writer David Finn calls Redlands Mesa one of the “Top 10 Courses You Can Play” in the United States and I have no argument on that.
Water comes into play more than you might expect on this high desert layout as illustrated by the par-four 6th. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
The uphill first hole gets you started in a relatively benign fashion, but then architect Engh fashions a series of elevated tee boxes, bold dazzling bunkers, and diabolical putting surfaces over hilly terrain that are sure to get your total attention. There are a several blind shots and elevated greens that add variety.
Longer hitters may be tempted to try to drive the par-four 4th, but beware, danger lurks left and right. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
The routing is surrounded by upscale housing that except for the right side of the par-five tenth hole is not intrusive. The only blemish in my opinion is that tenth hole. It begins with a warning sign on the tee that golfers are financially responsible for damage to the housing to the right. If that doesn’t plant a negative outcome in one’s mind, I don’t know what does. Rather, golf and safety-wise I believe that the 10th green should be repositioned to the left or alternatively the hole be shortened to a par-four with the green closer to the tee or further left as the housing on the right where most golfers hit is far too close for comfort. Otherwise, the attractive homes add rather than detract from the layout.
The par-four 11th is one of many holes that architect Jim Engh has naturally spilling steeply downhill off its wild terrain. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
Redlands Mesa offers many intimidating looks, but the landing areas are actually quite generous and the course conditioning is excellent. Longer hitters will be tempted to take advantage of the 7,000-yard test, but the risk-reward factor and landing areas often narrow further off the tee. This is a course where the medium hitter with accuracy will prevail, but all of the par-fives will tease the aggressive player to reach them in two shots and those putting surfaces will also be extra testy.
If there is a single “Oh Wow!” spot at Redlands Mesa (and there are many), my vote would go to the long par-three 17th, which is essentially an all or nothing tee shot. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
The par-threes at number 8 and 17 are “All-World Attractive” and I particularly liked the two-shotters at 4, 6, and 11. There are so many other entertaining holes that your favorites may be different. There is some occasional quirkiness to call it “character” so you will likely find it will take a round or two of playing to establish your strategy and tee shot lines, but Redland Mesa is an excellent adventure.
Below, the par-four 18th returns uphill to the clubhouse area and is a most attractive manner in which to conclude a spectacular round of golf at Redlands Mesa. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)