LITTLETON, Colo. -- The one-of-a-kind scenery is spectacular enough you might think you're in some remote, national park. But don't adjust your GPS, Arrowhead Golf Club is in Denver's backyard and makes for one of the state's most dramatic plays.
Set in the Rockies foothills of Roxborough State Park just south of Denver, the course is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and it continues to attract a worldwide audience of tourists visiting Colorado's great outdoors.
Giant, glowing sandstone formations, estimated to be 300 million years old, frame most holes here to give it a unique stage, even in a state full of natural splendor.
Arrowhead Golf Club: The design
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., the course is on the shorter side for the modern-day game in high altitude (6,636 yards from the championship tees), but being a Jones signature course, no hole is defenseless. Bunkers are large and plentiful, and many have tall, wispy grass bordering the lips that may be harder to get out of than the sand itself.
Greens are fast and undulating, and no. 1 and no. 17 even share a massive double green. Jones does his best to incorporate rocks into the design where he can. On the par-4 fifth and 15th holes, for example, a massive boulder defends the fairway. These rocks are struck by errant golf balls often, but they are massive and hard enough the tiny white spheres don't even leave a mark.
But make no mistake, Arrowhead G.C. is out to dazzle first, challenge second and its most dramatic holes can be had. There are a handful of holes that could be a "signature hole" depending on your tastes in course architecture. The par-3 third plays away from the mountain towards a green that is set in front of rock (there is a small, back-left corner of the green practically encircled by rock), while the Denver skyline can also be seen in the distance from the exposed teeing ground.
Then the par-3 13th hole takes it up a notch, playing from an elevated tee surrounded by rock, through an opening between two massive rocks to a green well below, while a small lake sits behind the green to punish those who don't club down from the tee.
But the 10th hole is probably the one you'll remember most: a downhill par 4 that showcases a horizon full of formations, all magically jutting out into the exact same direction. This is where most groups pose for their group picture (some non-golfers come to the clubhouse just to see the view and never even tee it up), and it also helps Arrowhead receive a good deal of wedding and banquet business.
Arrowhead Golf Club: The verdict
The Denver-area's best public golf course? Scenery-wise, Arrowhead Golf Club is a slam dunk.
As for playability, this older-generation design will be plenty challenging for most skill levels, though low-handicappers may wish for a little more yardage to conquer. Though be warned, high fescue grass and plenty of large, high-lipped bunkers and speedy greens defend the course nobly.
Given the fact Arrowhead is such a popular host for weddings and functions, the clubhouse is a good one, which includes a full pro shop, plus On the Rocks Bar & Grill (open until 9 p.m.) and one-of-a-kind views. There is a short, irons-only range on site with complimentary range balls for golfers, plus a couple practice greens.