Easily accessed from the small resort town of Glenwood Springs, which lies a mere 20-minute drive to the north, the residential development at Ironbridge occupies a 533-acre property in the Roaring Fork Valley, with a semi-private 18-hole golf course at the heart of its sporting activities.
Designed by Arthur Hills and opened for private play in 2003, Ironbridge was originally conceived as a long, tough track that would be capable of testing elite players. Five years after its unveiling, it ran into financial difficulties which led to new investors taking over in 2013.
One of the new owners was a one-time sponsor of Tom Lehman, so he called in the former Open Champion turned golf architect to soften the layout and Tom came up with the plan to drastically reduce the number of bunkers, redefine the mowing lines and regrade a number of holes to improve the overall playability of the course.
Ironbridge still has the feel of three different small courses all tagged together to make one 18-hole layout. The parkland-style front nine plays out on flatter terrain with a few water hazards in evidence while the final five holes play along the mountain edge and out along the river.
The best stretch is reserved for the dramatic canyon holes from the 10th to the 13th and this run of spectacularly scenic holes arrives after a 2-3 minute buggy ride from the 9th green up to the 10th tee – having reached the start of the back nine, the stunning vistas make every inch of the mile-long journey to get there in a golf cart worthwhile.
A terrific day’s golf in the Rockies on the road up to Aspen. Very cool clubhouse and friendly service to start off. The round starts slowly and gathers pace as it begins conventionally on the flat through housing and around a lake. Then the back nine changes gear with some edgy downhill tee shots and slippery green complexes. They must have changed the routing recently because the round finishes with the canyon holes. And what holes they are! Across barrancas and creeks, uphill, downhill and all in sight of the nearby mountains. You hold your breath as your ball heads into the thin mountain air and returns to earth. Thrilling stuff!!