What do Beaver Creek and Jackson Hole have in common besides skiing? They have Great Golf. Elite daily fee courses and private clubs have sprung up at these famous winter towns making summer months that more enticing. Golf’s most famous architects have created masterpieces in these mountain towns with enough nature and views to satisfy the heartiest naturalists.
The range attendant suddenly raised her arms to get the attention of the three or four golfers getting ready for play. Off to the left side of the range was a female black bear with two cubs. We all sat spellbound as they made their way quietly across the range from left to right and then up into the Aspen Grove just above us. The momma bear seemed to stop once about 50 yards out to check out the golfers but never really showed much interest. This set the tone for continued nature viewing on this scenic course.
Beaver Creek Golf Club was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened for play in 1982. The course winds its way down the valley toward the entrance to the resort and then back without coming in after nine. There is a fair amount of elevation change but it is covered in a way that golfers rarely have hilly lies. Several lakes dot the fairways as well as a rushing creek. It is a very scenic layout, and I found it to be in immaculate condition.
Red Sky Golf Club is another great option just a short drive from Beaver Creek Village. This is an elegant private club open to guests at Beaver Creek. Red Sky has two highly rated courses set on 800 acres of rolling terrain with mountain vistas. We played the Greg Norman Course, which lived up to the drama of its namesake. This layout has numerous elevated tee shots giving the player great views of the western landscape found in this area. The 9th hole is one you will always remember. Par four can measure 500 yards in length from the tips but plays much shorter being downhill and at an altitude of 8,000 feet. The approach plays over a natural creek area and is guarded by bunkers front left and long right. Players can bring the ball in short with a draw to take advantage of the right to left slope and have a putt at birdie. Tom Fazio designed the other 18 holes at Red Sky, and both courses have quickly risen to the top of national course rankings. The quality of both these designs is as good as it gets with expert feature shaping from both architects. They are both in excellent condition.
Teton Village is home to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and some of the best skiing in the U.S. The remote location and elegant village have long been popular with the more affluent visitors to the region, many of whom choose to buy residences nearby. With the opening of Shooting Star, this area now has a golf club equal to its scenic surroundings.
Shooting Star can be played from multiple tee options suitable for any level of play. At 6,000 feet above sea level, the ball really goes, especially if you get it up in the air with some heat on it. The Par Three 10th is a spectacular hole that is in full view from the clubhouse area. This scenic short hole tips out at 186 yards and crosses one of the lakes mentioned earlier. One of Fazio’s trademarks is large, deep bunkers such as the ones guarding this green. Fazio always gives the golfer a bail-out area which is seen on the right side of the green. Any approach will have to be squarely struck to clear the sand and arrive on this medium-sized green.
Shooting Star seems to be friendlier to the right to left player, and Hole 18 is a good example. This tough finisher can be played at 519 yards although it is a Par 4. Not to be alarmed though as it plays much shorter downwind and in the high altitude. The aggressive player will cross a lake guarding the left side off the tee and with the approach. The view of this finishing hole is spectacular with the Clubhouse and Rendezvous Peak framing the vista.