Find the fairway -- or else -- at Coyote Creek Golf Course in Fort Lupton, Colorado

FORT LUPTON, Colo. -- Hitting the fairway isn't just the recommended way to play Coyote Creek Golf Club, a fine city-owned municipal course northeast of Denver -- it's the only way.

"We add bite to the rough. You need to stay out of jail, and stay in the fairway," General Manager Pat Marek cautioned.

The rough at Coyote Creek feels more than lush. It will turn your game to mush. It plays like U.S. Open rough for amateurs. Unless your ball is sitting up, don't bother pulling any club shorter than a 7-iron. The grass will twist the clubface and send the ball shooting in any direction.

"If you get in the rough, it will cost you a stroke," said Ken Kreutzer, who lives in nearby Brighton.

Don't 'rough it' at Coyote Creek G.C.

Architect Matt Eccles wisely designed the par-71 Coyote Creek in 1999 to be extremely walkable, a characteristic that draws players from miles away. By not having to buy a cart, golfers make an already affordable round a real steal.

"We are in a rural community. We hear all the time, 'You guys are the hidden gem,'" Marek said.

Those who can keep it on the short grass can consistently score well due to the course's lack of length (6,412 yards). There aren't too many bunkers, either -- just 48 -- but water does make an appearance on half the holes. Most dangerous is the wetland up the left side of the par-4 second and the pond guarding the 18th fairway, a 488-yard par 5. Tee shots on two of the five par 3s can get wet. Water lurks left of the 179-yard third hole. It's all-carry to the green at the 160-yard 13th hole.

Coyote Creek Golf Club: The verdict

With that rough, yard for yard, Coyote Creek Golf Club is as tough as any course you'll find. A friendly, low-key vibe and good greens make any visit worthwhile.

Marek believes the three-hole stretch from no. 6-8 causes the most trouble. The sixth and eighth holes are two of the three longest par 4s on the course. The short seventh, at 333 yards from the tips, appears easy, but water in play off the tee and near the green collects its fair share of balls.

While the immediate setting on flat terrain through a subdivision doesn't inspire, the mountains dominating the horizon on a clear day will catch your attention.

"It is a well kept secret," Kreutzer said. "It is a great place to play. The course is in immaculate shape. It is challenging.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,100 courses and written about golf destinations in 25 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Find the fairway -- or else -- at Coyote Creek Golf Course in Fort Lupton, Colorado