Situated just outside Cañon City, in the high desert of southern Colorado, the course at Four Mile Ranch Golf Club is a challenging yet fun Jim Engh layout that’s said by a number of seasoned observers to feature the most unique set of greens in the whole of the Centennial State.
The architect is renowned for pushing the design boundaries and he’s done so here on several holes, cleverly “hiding” the green locations behind mounding on the par five 2nd, the par four 10th and the par five 15th.
The toughest hole on the card, the 563-yard 6th, also involves a fair amount of deception around the putting surface as the green sits below a sandy waste area that cuts across the fairway, forcing a semi-blind approach to the flag.
Architect Jim Engh is wont to add plenty of man-made features to his designs. Sometimes the heavy hand can take away from the primary objective in providing for holes that do not need the overloaded approach. Here at Four Mile Ranch -- Engh got the details right. The land is very good in spots and even in the flat areas -- for the first three holes and the 18th -- there's enough well done intricacies added.
Four Mile Ranch accentuate "fun golf" -- there are numerous shots and holes you relish playing and wish to do so again and again. Any course that can raise your blood pressure and your internal desire to "do it again" says plenty on the positive side. Engh has crafted a layout that seduces the golfer in attempting bold risky play. It's hard not to go with your instincts but players who look deeper into the challenges can unearth different ways to maximize your scoring opportunities and lessening ill-conceived plays.
One of the real strengths with Engh is the top tier par-5 holes he creates. They are clearly entertaining and ripe with various choices for the golfer to consider. Engh makes you believe that birdies are within easy grasp only to yank them away with the slightest miscalculation.
Highlighting the strength of the course is the devilish greens. They are vexing -- various shapes and movements -- are a constant thread. Precision approaches are de rigueur. In addition, Engh has added "bottleneck" fairways that force the longer hitter to think very carefully before firing away. The routing is also a plus -- moving one way on one hole -- then changing with the next.
How Four Mile Ranch escapes attention astounds me. The course is just south of Colorado Springs and is easily accessible. Costs to play are also very reasonable. Engh received much attention for his work at Sanctuary and at Redlands Mesa -- both in The Centennial State. If one wants to see the evolution of his work in much grander terms - a round at Four Mile Ranch is a must see. Fun golf is often the clarion call by many for the 21st century. Four Mile Ranch clearly succeeds in doing so.
by M. James Ward