For the majority of Americans, summer golf can often mean brutal temperatures and/or high humidity. For those, a trip to a location where there's natural air conditioning in the hottest months is always welcome.
With that in mind, perhaps nothing in the United States beats Colorado as a summertime golf destination. Play along the Rocky Mountains and you get those pleasant days and cool nights, plus plenty of other things to do in addition to golf, like white water rafting, hiking, biking, fishing and plain ol' relaxing.
Fortunately, there are plenty of Colorado golf resorts to choose from on each side of the Rocky Mountains, from the ski resorts on the Western Slope to resorts near Denver and Colorado Springs on the Front Range.
Here is a look at Colorado's best golf resorts, which might be more famous for their winter skiing than golf, but the golf shouldn't be underestimated:
Considered one of America's greatest resorts, The Broadmoor, the "Grand Dame of the Rockies" and designed to emulate the great hotels of Europe, goes back to 1918. The architecture of the hotels (779 rooms) is Italian Renaissance style, and the pink stucco of the façade blends into the Pikes Peak area landscape. This is certainly one of America's premier golf resorts in the summer and fall, having been the host site for several high profile events, including the U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open on the East Course.
The first golf course on the 3,000-acre property was designed by Donald Ross, and at the time, it was the highest golf course in America. The second course is a Robert Trent Jones design (1965), and Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay created the third golf course, the Mountain Course in 1976. The East and West courses are actually combinations of different holes from Ross and Jones, while the Mountain was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus in 2006. All three are worth playing. A week here is a week well-spent.
Cheyenne Mountain Resort
This four-diamond resort located next door to the Broadmoor offers everything imaginable in the summer, including Pete Dye's first course in Colorado, The Country Club of Colorado, built in 1973. Originally a private club, it didn't become available to the public until the resort was built in 1985 and Cheyenne Mountain Resort started marketing the summer golf. Set at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain and designed around a 35-acre spring-fed lake known as Curr Reservoir, it has long been considered one of the more challenging courses in Colorado with narrow fairways, long grass and tricky greens.
As for other things to do at Cheyenne Mountain, there are two restaurants, 18 tennis courts, squash and racquetball courts; fitness center, a pub and a lounge, and a 35-acre recreation lake for water sports such as canoeing, sailing and trout fishing. Stay-and-play golf packages can be enjoyed for as low as $160pp.
Keystone, of course, is a world-class ski destination, but it also has two terrific golf courses built on 9,000 feet of elevation for plenty of summer fun in addition to hiking, biking, fishing and other activities.
The Ranch Course is a 7,090-yard Robert Trent Jones Jr. design (the clubhouse is a former ranch house from the 1930s) with 68 bunkers, a nine-acre lake and six water hazards. There are plenty of great camera shots that include old ranch buildings and mountains in the background. The River Course, crafted by Dana Fry and Dr. Michael Hurdzan, was built around the Snake River on the front side and has plenty of great holes and elevated tees, including the first, which is 100 feet above the fairway.
In addition, the Keystone Lodge & Spa is a AAA Four Diamond Award-winning resort offering 152 guest rooms as well as a 10,000-square-foot spa and the Bighorn Steakhouse. River Run is a European-styled village with shops and restaurants on the first floors and condos on the upper floors. Golf packages start at $183pp and include a free nine holes on arrival day.
Cordillera Lodge & Spa
The four courses at Cordillera in Edwards just west of Vail are private, but they are open to guests the Cordillera Lodge & Spa, a comfortable resort with nice dining in beautiful mountain setting.
The courses available include the Jack Nicklaus-designed Summit Course at nearly 10,000 feet and Tom Fazio's Valley Course. The views are especially spectacular from the Summit Course, but the Valley Course is no less enjoyable. The third course there is the Mountain Course, designed by Colorado native and three-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin and certainly has plenty of great views, too, as well as terrific conditioning. The most unique course, however, is the Short Course at Cordillera, designed by short-game guru Dave Pelz. Not only is this a terrific nine-hole par 3 courses, but the views overlooking the valley and the Valley Course are among the best in Colorado.
Known more for skiing than golf, Telluride Golf Club, the only golf course at this high-end resort, is a quirky, but very enjoyable test of golf with plenty of great views, highly elevated tees and interesting holes.
Tom Watson was the original designer of the course and did take his name off the project (due to some disagreements toward the end of the build), but the result is still pretty good. Elevated tees, water hazards and plenty of doglegs are all surrounded by the 14,000-foot-plus peaks of the San Miguel Mountain Range. The par-3 17th plays from a tee about 150 feet above the green. It's breathtaking in every sense of the word, including the climb of 92 steep steps to get the top. Add in the fact that golfers who come here in the summer can do plenty of other things -- such as white water rafting, fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking or just relaxing -- in addition to the golf, and this is a worthy destination. Play the golf course two or three times, enjoy the atmosphere and the great dining at Mountain Village and in the town of Telluride, and you've got a great summer vacation.
Beaver Creek Resort
Like Telluride, Beaver Creek has only one golf course. But again, the golf course and the setting are well worth it for folks who don't mind playing the same course multiple times and enjoying everything else the resort has to offer in the summertime.
Nestled against the slopes of Beaver Creek Mountain, Beaver Creek Golf Club is a private course that opened in 1980 and is available to guests of the resort. Designed by RTJ Jr. the course has long, narrow challenging fairways and great mountain scenery, of course. Unique to Beaver Creek Golf Club is the course's "cookie time," where rangers deliver fresh-baked cookies at 1 p.m. each day.
Guest also have access to the European-inspired, Beaver Creek Village, which offers terrific dining, restaurants and other activities.
Located just outside of Denver, the Omni Interlocken Hotel is a modern resort with 390 rooms, great views of the Rockies, a spa, fine and casual dining and a 27-hole golf course, designed by Graham & Panks International, (a partnership between David Graham, 1981 U.S. Open Champion and PGA Senior Tour player, and Gary Panks).
With more than 400 feet of elevation change, the course consists of three regulation nine-hole courses – Eldorado, Vista and Sunshine – with each combination of 18 around 7,000 yards from the championship tees. The course has also been host to the Sun Microsystems/John Elway Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament the past few years.