Lake Valley

Lake Valley GC, Niwot. Press Maxwell, 1964.

Now a private club, this was a better than average public course when I was growing up and playing tournaments here. It’s a nice routing with some pretty natural holes but the one that sticks in my mind is the eighth, a long par 4 with a lake down the left side and a large cottonwood down the right about 75 yards short of the green. Tee shots that don’t challenge the lake are blocked out by the tree.

Trees also feature at the third, where the fairway shape suggests a dogleg right but a tree asks the player to hit a draw to find the fairway. And again at the 15th a par 4 stretched to 442 yards from the back tees with trees some 150 yards in front of the back tee box that may not be in play but help narrow the player’s focus all the same.

What makes these features work is that this is not a heavily treed golf course at all. It is primarily a prairie course with wonderful views of the mountains and Flatirons. The trees are sparing but significant when they appear because they are mostly older trees that have grown around the creeks in the area as opposed to plantings brought in for the course.

This less is more approach applies to the rest of the course as well. The greens are small, the bunkering not overdone. It’s a classic formula that works. The course is challenging (a 71.9 rating and 139 slope on a par of 70 while being under 7,000 yards even at altitude) but is still fun to play.

Colorado 3rd Decile [1994]

Credit: Lake Valley CC