Jim Engh is well known for his adventurous golf courses...couple that tendency with the mountainous terrain around Castle Rock, south of Denver, and you’ve got a fine public counterpoint to the region’s many acclaimed private clubs.
The architect is clearly hankering for the everyman to enjoy themselves at Red Hawk Ridge, as right out of the gate is a downhill par five, playing just 508 yards from the backs tees; at altitude, the distance won’t be an issue for many, but maneuvering around the large fairway bunker ahead of the green may be.
It’s interesting to note that this par five is the exact same length from the tips as No. 13, a par four that features the highest handicap index at the course. Still, the downhill nature of the hole will give you a chance at survival. Even the longest hole on the course, a 650-yard par five, seems manageable thanks to both thin air and gravity.
This is not a walker’s course, however many of the uphill moments come between holes, without requiring players to play up crazy slopes. Perhaps the most ascendant hole is No. 8, a par four that plays just 310 yards, so that no approach shots (even at that short yardage, driving this green is wishful thinking) are too uncomfortable.
Piggybacking on what Ethan said in his review -- I played Red Hawk Ridge not long after it opened. At that time the course was free of all the invasive clutter. There are homesites and the golf experience is a good bit less than its glory beginning days.
The Engh touch is done well in spots -- especially the range of par-5 holes where risk/reward is present.
The main issue for Red Hawk Ridge is how the floor level for daily fee play has risen with a range of other courses in the Centennial State.
The hole diversity is good but when you size up Red Hawk Ridge against the likes of other Colorado daily fee efforts from Engh with the likes of Lakota Canyon, Four Mile Ranch, Redlands Mesa and Fossil Trace you see the magic come alive with a much more spellbinding array of holes and design details.
M. James Ward
I think before the real estate boom that took place in Castle Rock, this would have been one of the most scenic courses in Colorado. That's not the reality now, however, as many of the scenic overlooks here are now framed by houses, buildings, or I-25. The one thing about Red Hawk along that same line of thought that's unfortunate is the course's routing through a residential community. The natural ambiance gets diminished as a result, and unlike other great public courses nearby like Bear Dance, Arrowhead, and The Ridge at Castle Pines (Back 9), you never feel like it's just you and the golf course. Now that the negatives are out of the way, the biggest positive I have to say about RHR is the skillful routing. Great use of terrain in that you go each and every different way. Uphill and to the left, downhill and to the right, etc. Nice variety of hazards too between heather, water, bunkers, and some desert bushes. A fun golf course all-around that'll test each part of your game.