Public-access golfers looking for a highly ranked private-club experience can focus their gaze upwards to the mountains of Colorado, where Red Sky Golf Club in Wolcott offers two courses that allow guest play on alternating days.
Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses. That includes the popular Best Courses You Can Play list for courses that allow non-member tee times. These generally are defined as layouts accessible to resort guests or regular daily-fee players.
No. 1 on that list in the Centennial State is the Fazio Course (pictured atop this story) at Red Sky about 30 minutes west of Vail through the Rocky Mountains. The club also boasts its Norman Course, which ranks No. 5 in the state. The names, of course, reference Tom Fazio and Greg Norman as designers, and both are open one at a time to guests of the club’s partner properties.
The Fazio Course, which opened in 2002, plays across sage-covered hills, through aspen forest and around a highland lake with stunning views of surrounding mountains and a valley. The Norman Course sits higher up the mountain – both courses are at over 7,000 feet above sea level – and plays a bit wider than the Fazio Course. Golfweek’s Raters frequently note the excellent conditioning of both courses, as typically would be found at high-end private clubs.
In the far western, high-desert reaches of Colorado near the Utah line sits Redlands Mesa Golf Club in Grand Junction, which ranks as the No. 2 public-access layout in the state. Architect Jim Engh fashioned an expansive routing with dramatic vistas that opened in 2001.
The No. 3 public-access layout in the state, The Broadmoor’s East Course in Colorado Springs, is more of a classic. With nine holes designed by Donald Ross (1918) and nine others by Robert Trent Jones Sr. (1952), the East was the site of Jack Nicklaus’ first U.S. Amateur title in 1959 as well as Annika Sorenstam’s first major in 1995. The Broadmoor’s West Course, also with holes by Ross and Jones, ranks No. 9 in the state.
TPC Colorado in Berthoud, designed by Arthur Schaupeter along the shores of three reservoirs and opened in 2018, ranks No. 4 among the state’s public-access layouts. At the time of its opening, it was the first new course in Colorado in more than a decade.
Colorado is also home to a thriving private-club scene. Each of the top four private courses in the state – Ballyneal, Colorado Golf Club, Castle Pines and Cherry Hills – also rank among either Golfweek’s Best top 100 modern courses or classic courses.