Spring Valley

Spring Valley GC, Elizabeth. Ross Graves, 1998.

This course was built on an old cattle ranch across the road from the ranch my family owned for years, so we were more interested than most to venture out here when this course first opened. In those days, Elizabeth was still out in the middle of nowhere and the course had a homegrown quality to it. Now there are a lot of homes out here and ultimately you’re just 20 minutes east from Colorado Golf Club so it doesn’t feel nearly so removed from everything.

Then or now, there are a lot of nice holes here on a good site, whose main features are a creek and a big hill on the far side of it. The best hole on the outward half is the eighth, a par 4 that turns left hard around the creek with the fairway narrowing steadily the further you hit your drive. The green is a small target, with two bunkers in front and the creek to the left and behind, so laying back too far off the tee is a dangerous proposition.

The back nine holes are especially good, although that appears to be the side where they’ve started building homes first. The 10th is a long par 4 along the creek, followed by the 11th, which is a shorter hole with the tee tucked back in the trees. This hole turns slightly left alone the creek with a few cottonwoods guarding the left side to catch drives that turn too much. But miss right of the green and you’ll find a worse spot, a shallow bunker with a tree growing in it that could spell all kinds of disaster.

This bunker right of #12 is bad news in more ways than one (Credit: Spring Valley GC)

The 12th moves to the other side of the creek and again doglegs left. There’s a target bunker at the corner, which can be reached by long hitters. This is another on of the very bad spots to be—from this bunker you may have a tree directly in front of you and there will be tress on your line to the green. The 12th is a fairway to find at all costs.

Faders rejoice as the next few holes are set up to favor their ball flight. The 13th is mid-length par 3 with a bunker and tree right of the green that, in concert with the slope of the hill, make a fade a near requirement to get a shot to stop here. The 14th and 15th are short par 4s that play as doglegs to the right but 14 is downhill and over the creek with tree trouble the whole way, whereas the 15th moves back uphill into clearer ground and asks for a tee shot between two bunkers—the fairway is huge, but doesn’t look it from the tee box.

The 16th hole is a fine one, a double dogleg calling for a draw off the tee and then a fade around the hillside on the next shot in a way that reminds me of a Pete Dye hole. Then the 17th tops it off—a dramatic downhill par 3 to a green set on the far side of the creek with towering cottonwoods on both sides.

The finishing par-5 18th lacks the creek or the hills but is better than the ninth hole which it mirrors as the bunkers here angle into the fairway, forcing decisions on both the tee shot and the second shot.

Ultimately Spring Valley doesn’t feel quite so much like a hidden gem now that Elizabeth is virtually another suburb. At the same time it’s too far away from the city to be worth a trip to see all for itself. But it’s still a wonderful little spot, and there’s some good golf here.

Colorado 4th Decile [2001]

Credit: Spring Valley GC