The Woman’s Golf Guide to Denver

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The Woman’s Golf Guide to Denver

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Written By:

Susan Fornoff

Susan Fornoff, a trailblazing sports journalist and the founder of GottaGoGolf.com, is a Colorado-based writer, editor and golf consultant who endeavors to help women have more fun with the game. Susan will play golf anywhere, anytime, with anyone. But her favorite hole is always the 19th.

I used to avoid Denver because I didn’t want to fly to, or especially through, a place that had blizzards and one of the world’s busiest airports. Now, I live there and I love it. The city is booming and bustling with the kind of energy I thought only existed in cities like New York and San Francisco. And the bonus surprise for me: In and around the Mile-High City, I can play golf in any month of the year.

How, you ask, can a place have blizzards and year-round golf? Well, we don’t really have blizzards. Maybe we’ll have one again, someday, but the weather has changed. And, the sun that we’re a mile closer to than most melts the snow almost as fast as it accumulates, while the wind blows it off the fairways. The only time we can’t play is when the snow hangs around, or we get a rare cold snap that might last two weeks.

Supposedly, the altitude lengthens our shots. Then there’s roll on the dry fairways, which are like bowling alleys in winter. The courses rate most of their tees for women, and usually there are two reasonable options for the average woman. The women’s golf community here feels vibrant and sisterly.

There’s so much to enjoy downtown: renovated Union Station, full of shops and restaurants; Coors Field, a destination ballpark for any baseball fan; and more museums, theaters and music halls than you could visit in a monthlong vacation there.

I won’t steer women toward the 16th Street Mall, an uncomfortable place to shop because of the loiterers and lost characters in the vicinity. And there are still some golf courses in the area that are not welcoming to women, but, don’t worry, I won’t send you to those either.

If you stay long enough, please do head west to tour Rocky Mountain National Park; take on Copper Creek, home of the highest tee box in North America, No. 14, at 9,863 feet; or play my favorite high-altitude golf destination, Pole Creek Golf Course, where my husband proposed atop the last tee on the Ridge nine.

PRICE GUIDE


Full employment, a population increasing by the day, and a housing shortage have made Denver no bargain. Though you can still play the most elite golf courses in the area for less than $100, expect to spend $250 and up for a night at the best hotels and, at the better restaurants, no less than $80 for a three-course dinner with one glass of wine.

GOLF HERE

FossilTrace

Fossil Trace Golf Club ($$$)

Golden is best known for being home to the Coors brewery, but Fossil Trace’s 64-million-year history put it on every map of city highlights. While you’re on the narrow and imposing first hole, perhaps interminably, you may wonder why you came (and, for sure, why that chimney’s in the middle), but once that’s over you’ll enjoy its collection of fair, pretty, and unique holes, with No. 12 standing out for its massive Triceratops footprints and the adjacent walking trail. The scenery is gorgeous, conditions immaculate, and wildlife prevalent. The women’s club loves that the 4.681-yard most forward tees give them the opportunity to hit greens in regulation and that when they’re done they can have lunch with a view at Schnepf’s.
GOLF HERE
golfview

City Park ($)

All of my old complaints about this 1913-vintage municipal track–lame pro shop, ridiculously long forward tees, poorly-located clubhouse–will be erased in 2019 by an entirely new golf course. Todd Schoeder used the Long Leaf Tee system to create a new, all-levels-friendly layout with advisement by Hale Irwin, whose compassion for the ordinary golfer surprisingly rivals his achievements as a Hall of Famer. Front tee options will start at 4,801 yards and the nines will start at, and return to, a sleek, modern clubhouse with stunning city and mountain views.
GOLF HERE
Arrowhead

Arrowhead ($$$$)

It’s quite a trek south from Denver to this wonderfully maintained course set in the foothills of the Rockies, but I simply could not leave out semi-private Arrowhead because it embodies the character of the region: elevated, rocky, beautiful, and quirky. Particularly friendly to the average woman golfer, with forward tees set at 5,338 yards (remember: altitude and roll), Arrowhead is where I played my first round of golf in Colorado, and where I would take any visitor looking for the ultimate Rocky Mountain golf experience.
GOLF HERE
 

LOCALS' TIP


Expect to lose 5 to 10 degrees from the weather in Denver to the first tee at Arrowhead.
 

STAY HERE

Crawford Hotel

Crawford Hotel ($$$$)

The timeless, 1881 architecture of Union Station spills into the rooms on the floors above, giving guests Pullman-like, Victorian-style, or super-modern accommodations in the Crawford. The station itself is full of shops, restaurants, and watering holes, and in the center of the lively LoDo district. And, yes, it's adjacent to both Amtrak and RTD tracks, making it an easy jaunt into the airport.
STAY HERE
 

LOCALS' TIP


As with many city hotels, rates tend to plunge on weekends.
 
Nativ

Nativ ($)

The comparative budget option just a short walk from Union Station, Nativ caters to the young and cool with a popular coffee bar and nightclub downstairs. The rooms are small but not spartan, with luxury touches and character. Some have rather large balconies for overseeing the action on the street below.
STAY HERE
Hilton Inverness

Hilton Denver Inverness ($$)

Sure, it’s a chain hotel and you know what to expect. But the Hilton Inverness meets two requirements of the golf-loving business traveler: It’s in the heart of what is known as the Tech Center, the booming business area outside of downtown; and, it’s got its own golf course, a rolling, parkland-style layout open only to members and resort guests. The bonus: A jumping, hopping Topgolf is just 5 minutes away.
STAY HERE

EAT HERE

Cholon

Cholon ($$$$)

Opened in 2010 by a New York City ex-pat, this LoDo “modern Asian bistro” warranted James Beard-finalist honors for Chef Lon Symensma just a year later. The restaurant is beautiful, and so is the bar with its greenery-lined sidewalk patio. Plates are designed for sharing, but be warned, if you go here with a group you will keep ordering and ordering; thus, the four dollar signs. Cholon does offer a “single” menu with a selection of its specialties designed for one. Whatever you do, do NOT miss the onion soup dumplings.
EAT HERE
range

Range ($$$)

Here’s where we discover that “New American West Cuisine” isn’t limited to a big, fat, juicy steak and accompaniments. Range has those, of course, listed under “Butcher’s Cuts,” but specialties include creative presentations of scallops, chicken, salmon, and even bison ribs. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Range is just off the invitingly restored lobby of a hotel that used to be a bank.
EAT HERE
Tavernetta

Tavernetta ($$)

Frasca, which operates several acclaimed Denver restaurants, offers a relatively affordable authentic Italian menu aside the platform at Union Station. I recommend dining in the large bar area at happy hour; the discounted wines are always delicious, and the ambiance can be lively at the bar or romantic by the fireplace or window.
EAT HERE

AND A SIDETRIP

Any lover of golf lore and history will want to make time for a jaunt to Colorado Springs and the Broadmoor, which opened in 1918 and today covers 3,000 acres and has more than 700 rooms, a private lake, spa, gardens, and two golf courses. The famed East Course, where Annika Sorenstam won her first U.S. Women’s Open, plays too long even at altitude for the average woman golfer, so be sure to read the greens carefully and remember that putts are supposed to break away from the Will Rogers Shrine, source of the chimes you’ll hear on the quarter-hour.

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