Denver Metro favorites: Golf course variety is paramount in shadow of Colorado's Rocky Mountains

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DENVER -- One could spend months tasting the variety of golf in the Denver Metro area, home of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills that brought together three modern golf legends: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

After the crash and burn of The International, once held at the Golf Club at Castle Pines, welcome news came with the return of the PGA Tour to Cherry Hills with the BMW Championship, Sept. 4-7.

And news came recently that the state's first new golf course in five years will be built in Windsor, north of Denver. RainDance National Golf Club, designed by Fred Funk, will be located less than three miles from its sister course –- 27-hole Pelican Lakes Golf and Country Club.

Here in Denver, where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains, a travel golfer can stage his or her own bit of Colorado golf glory at a multitude of daily-fee and municipal golf courses. Here are some of my favorites.

Arrowhead Golf Club in Littleton

You could wander the planet for 100 years and might not find a setting so incredible for a golf course. Located in Roxborough State Park just south of Denver, geologists say it took 300 million years for the slanted, jagged cerise rocks to form.

It took Robert Trent Jones Jr. a fraction of that time to design Arrowhead Golf Club, which is one of the most photographed golf courses in the world. Jones said the cathedral-like conglomerate rocks and the rolling terrain make it a must-play.

Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield

Built in 1999 by David Graham and Gary Panks, the Omni Interlocken Resort has inspiring vistas of the Rockies between Denver and Boulder and is a year-round resort with only the best hotel amenities.

Eighteen-hole combinations measure more than 7,000 yards with the nines named Eldorado, Vista and Sunshine. The terrain is rolling hills more than 300 acres but was almost treeless before they planted nearly 3,000.

Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course in Castle Rock

Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course is a dream course that gathers sweeping views of the front range from Long's Peak to Pike's Peak. High points, rocky buttes, thick native grasses and scrub oak feature lots of wildlife. Fairways are wide with big landing areas framed by large, grassy moguls; bunkers; greenside lakes bumped against sand and stacked rock; and massive, contoured, bentgrass greens with tough, thick collars.

The City of Castle Rock wanted a fun course. That's what Jim Engh gave them. Engh took city administrators to a high ridge line that defined the back nine and pointed to placement of the holes. The vision transferred from Engh to the administrators. Light bulbs went off in their heads -- fun.

Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden

Engh also designed Fossil Trace Golf Club in the shadows of Table Mountain, within sight of the Coors Brewery, and it only takes one stroke to notice the history of this land. The chimney of a brick kiln remains in the middle of the fairway on the par-5 first hole -- right in the sightline of your second stroke.

Examine the 20-foot pillars of sandstone positioned in the fairway of the par-5 12th, and then determine how to clear them on your journey to the green. This hole serves as a reminder of the property's quarry history. Clay-mining equipment remains where, 64 million years ago, bird tracks, palm fronds and triceratops footprints froze into history. A split-rail fence near the green leads to a viewing area for the fossils.

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.
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Awesome!  Weather suited for golf in Denver in early March. 

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Denver Metro favorites: Golf course variety is paramount in shadow of Colorado's Rocky Mountains