This is the 2nd of a series of 3 reviews of golf courses designed by my new buddy Jim Engh. I will no doubt be reviewing more than a total of 3 Engh courses in the future but these are ones I evaluated on my recent Colorado trip.
Fossil Trace – The History
What a cool name for a golf course. Fossil Trace, located in Golden Colorado is on some very historic Earth. The name Fossil Trace comes from the great find of fossils found on the course. There are various fossils ranging from 64 million year old Triceratops footprints to palm fronds.
Behind a great rock wall left of the 12th green many of the fossils are on display. Once you are done recording a birdie on #12 like I did, you can go look at some Triceratops foot prints.
The fossils aren’t the only history lying under the plush fairways of Fossil Trace. Back in the late 1800’s this piece of land was a clay quarry. Many holes have remnants of the old clay mining operation. Several holes have very cool and rustic mining equipment. The first hole (above) has an old mining smelter chimney which Jim Engh liked so much he left it right in the middle of the fairway. The old mining tractors parked near many of the holes add a very unique look and feel to the course.
12 approach, mining equipment, rock spires and fossil wall (left)
I’ve got three courses to review in the near future, all of which were designed by my new pal Jim Engh. Red Hawk Ridge, located in Castlerock Colorado, is the first of these three.
The landscape in Castlerock is hilly. There are some rolling hills and small mountains surrounding this neat area. At the top of one of the small mountains is what is obviously “the” Castle Rock. Red Hawk Ridge (RHR for short) winds it’s way up and down the Eastern mountainside of the hilly Castlerock area.
One of the buzzwords I’ve learned recently is “routing.” Thanks to Jay Flemma and Adam Clayman for clarifying something I knew deep down but never realized: The routing (direction the course and it’s holes travel) is extremely important.
There can be a real “flow” to the way a golf course plays. The flow from tee to fairway to green and the flow from hole to hole are very important. If a course isn’t laid out or routed well, this flow can be compromised and the enjoyment the players experience can be greatly diminished along with other factors like pace of play and course conditioning.
Located in Hobble Creek Canyon Utah (a few miles South East of Provo), Hobble Creek is an old style, traditional tree lined golf course. The holes wander up and down the canyon, taking advantage of the mountain terrain and fresh mountain streams.
This par 71 course is not long (6315 yards) and many of the holes play shorter than their yardage due to the higher altitude and many of the hole’s elevation drops.
Hobble Creek’s 18th hole
Nearly every shot on this course is visually worthy of a postcard. If you stop and look around wherever you are, you have awesome mountain views and beautiful tree lined, plush fairways and greens.
The course has numerous hazards. Many holes have either OB or red hazards left and right of the fairways, requiring accuracy off the tee. There are also streams and gullies which cross many of the holes, requiring you to think about what distance you want to hit your tee shot rather than simply bombing a driver. On many par 4 holes I found myself teeing off with 4 or 5-irons.
Once you are successfully in the fairway the course is not extremely difficult. If you do hit the fairway, you’ll be rewarded with short to mid-iron approach shots to the green.
See the moon peeking over the mountain on the right?
The course’s 2nd line of defense (the first being the tightness and hazards) is it’s fast, sloped greens. If you are a weak putter, Hobble will reveal your weakness on the greens. You have to play perfect line and speed if you want to get the ball to drop or at least end up close to the hole. Get your speed or line wrong, especially on a downhill putt, and you’ll be faced with a long recovery putt.
The greens were not only fast, they were extremely soft. My group had several shots hit the center of the green and literally spin all the way off. We had to try to fly the ball past the pin and bring it back in order to get the ball to pin high. It’s amazing a course can have greens that fast, yet that soft.
If you are a strong putter (which I consider myself) you can score well. I carded 5 birdies when I played there. The last 2 birdies were on holes 17 & 18, which not only helped me finish in a good mood, it helped me finish with a few more bucks in my wallet thanks to my opponents. Even better, my opponents pressed on 17 and then also on 18. Talk about a butt kicking…
The clubhouse is a classic, salty old building. There is a ton of personality in the design and old style dark wood interior.
There are many great trophies and pictures on the walls dating back decades. I checked out shots of Johnny Miller, Billy Casper and other PGA stars playing the course and practicing on the range.
No beer for you
I really liked the restaurant/coffee shop. It was a “real” restaurant, not just a hot dog stand in a building.
What I didn’t like was the fact that I couldn’t buy my deflated opponents a beer after the round. You see, there’s a local law that makes beer sales on Sunday illegal. So my opponents had to drown their sorrows in a soda pop.
Hobble Creek Golf Course is a gem. If you’re accurate off the tee and a decent putter, you should be able to score quite well. The course is a wonderful design and maintenanced to perfection. If you’re in the area of Provo, Utah, make a trip up to HC. It will be worth the $36 (with cart no less) to play it.
Click here for the Hobble Creek Golf Course photo gallery
If you’ve never been to southern Utah, you are missing out on some of the most beautiful terrain in the world: Red Rock Country. In Red Rock Country there are stunning red rock plateaus, canyons and mountains. An old wives tale says the reason the rocks are red is because they are burned by the desert sun. If you go there in the summer, you too will turn red.
In the heart of this beautiful terrain in Washington County (5 minutes north of St. George, Utah) is Green Spring Golf Course. In 1991 Golf Digest rated Green Spring one of the top five new courses in the country.