Set out along the Eagle River, which runs through the Vail Valley, the 1984 Jack Nicklaus-designed course at the Country Club of the Rockies offers magnificent mountain vistas from a course that doesn’t suffer itself from uncomfortable elevation changes.
Sitting at an altitude of 7,200 feet above sea level, the 7,402-yard length of the course is not actually that excessive. Indeed, instead of relying on distance to challenge golfers in the rarified atmosphere, the Golden Bear concentrated on green sites to protect par.
Putting surfaces were originally constructed with pronounced slopes but, after a decade of use, it was felt they were just too severe and so the greens were softened during the mid-1990s when they were replanted with bentgrass.
Highlight holes include the 389-yard 2nd, with a split fairway, and the 571-yard 7th, where a trademark Nicklaus 100-yard long bunker guards the lay-up area. On the back nine, the Eagle River makes an appearance at the 477-yard 12th, where the approach must cross a wide section of the river.
Former President Gerald Ford was a long time member of the club, hosting the Jerry Ford Invitational charity pro-am at the Country Club of the Rockies for over twenty years. It was a big annual event on the social calendar with top entertainers, athletes and business leaders all participating.