Take on Tom Weiskopf's spectacular golf course at Catamount Ranch & Club in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

By Doug Saunders, Contributor

Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the spectacular golf course at Catamount Ranch & Club has three distinct flavors. The first three holes play out through the predominant hay field of the Steamboat region, offering a glimpse of ranch life. The next few holes slip into the aspen groves and creeks. Finally, the course climbs up into high country with broad vistas and the sense of awe that typifies Rocky Mountain golf.

Catamount Ranch & Club golf course
Tom Weiskopf was given uncommon freedom when designing the golf course at Catamount Ranch & Club.
Catamount Ranch & Club golf courseGolf at Catamount Ranch & Club
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Catamount Ranch & Club

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33400 Catamount Dr
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80487
Routt County
Phone(s): (970) 871-9200
Website: catamountranchclub.com
 
18 Holes | Private golf course | Par: 72 | 6937 yards | ... details »
 

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- From the front porch of the century old log cabin at the edge of the forest at 7,500 feet in the Colorado Rockies, the sun slips below the horizon and spills its palette of colors across the raging thunderheads on the western horizon. As lighting fires off around the serene surface of Lake Catamount, one can sense the inspiration of freedom that drove the homesteaders to settle in this wild rangeland long ago.

The desire to carve a life out of nature through hard work and perseverance drove the settlers of the West. The results of that effort rise in the form of the stoic barn and out buildings that were fashioned from the timbers of this land. The strength of character that carried these ranchers through the coldest of winters and driest of summers ooze from every line of chinking between the hand-hewn logs.

The Heritage Cabin on the shores of Lake Catamount near Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a haven that stands as the purest symbol of a way of life that shaped this 3,200-acre ranch. Today it is part of the preservation of the land in the form of a private enclave developed by the Cordillera Group who, in partnership with Tim Mueller, Lyman Orton, and Nick Schoewe, has created the Catamount Ranch and Club.

This ranch site was at one time permitted to become another ski area nearly the size of Steamboat Springs with 3,000 residential units, 1,000 hotel rooms, and 250,000 square feet of hotel space. Today the plan is for only 40 homes and 44 duplex cottages to be built and the rest to be held in preservation. This is a vision that has driven the Cordillera Group in all of its properties, to create low-density projects that offer ultimate lifestyles for the fortunate ones that afford it.

Tom Weiskopf golf at Catamount Ranch

The final piece of the puzzle is the creation of the Catamount Ranch golf course, a Tom Weiskopf designed championship course located on another 700-acre site four miles from the lake. This spectacular course opened for its first full year of play this summer.

The first thoughts about Catamount is one that is synonymous with anything involving the Cordillera Group; this is a top-drawer operation that spares no expense to create the best. Catamount Ranch is actually the Cordillera Group's first venture away from their incomparable Cordillera Resort in Edwards, Colo. but follows the same philosophy of developing ultimate enclaves that celebrate the mountain lifestyle.

The Catamount golf course runs across a site that has three distinct flavors to it.

The first three holes play out through the predominant hay field of the Steamboat region, offering a glimpse of ranch life to the golfer.

The next few holes slip into the aspen groves and creeks that give the area a feeling like New England.

Finally, the course climbs up into high country with broad vistas, sagebrush, and the sense of awe that typifies Rocky Mountain golf.

"We started with a working ranch in a spectacular setting, preserved it, and in the process created a course of uncommon distinction," explained Weiskopf, who was given unusual freedom to create this impressive layout. With only 25 home sites located on the property, the golf course took precedence in the development.

The four tee blocks allow the course to play from 5,011 yards up front to a strong 7,088 yards from the black tees. The front nine opens in unusual fashion with back-to-back par 5s, with the first hole being very reachable but the second demanding careful play with a lake running all the way up the left side to the green.

The fifth hole is a Weiskopf regular feature, the reachable par 4 at 282 yards from the gold tees. The challenge here is that the green is well protected by a series of bunkers, so the lay-up area to the left is the smart play here.

The sixth hole is another dramatic par 4, which plays to 297 yards from the gold tees from a spectacular elevated tee. The green is an enticing target from up here but a swath of wetlands, rocks, and a creek cut across the fairway just 80 yards from the green. Consider a lay-up shot just short of the creek for the best play into this enticing hole.

From the seventh tee the beauty of the site spreads out before you. This course runs up into terrain that you would never consider as you warm up at the range. You can see from here what fun Weiskopf must have had in dropping a golf course into this place. Weiskopf claims that he never picks a signature hole for his courses as he hopes golfers find their own particular favorite. There is no better recommendation of Catamount than the fact that there are so many memorable holes out here.

The eighth hole is a 198 yarder that fits the bill of memorable holes. This hole drops 80 feet down and the view of the hole and the surrounding ranchland from this vantage point is stunning.

The back nine plays out from the clubhouse and takes the golfer on the climb back up to the highest parts of the golf course.

"It was very challenging to build these holes up here in that we had to move a lot of dirt to cut in the fairways and there is a lot of wildlife that call this area their domain," Head Superintendent Chris Mcpherson said.

Throughout this landscape bear, deer, moose, elk, and badger are found. From the clubhouse, the course climbs almost 400 feet to the high point at the 16th tee, a 455-yard beauty that calls for you to blast away into the mountain air.

For finishers you can't beat the 595-yard, par-5 18th hole. This hole is the ultimate in risk and reward as well as a hole that gives you so many options on how to play it. This downhill hole has wetlands cutting into the fairway just past the landing area and cuts in again near the green. On your second shot, your have to choose which side of the split fairway you want to play and what angle you want to approach from. If you really tag your drive you can go for the green, but the wetlands and bunkers protect the target very well. Only the boldest player will attempt this shot.

Doug Saunders, Contributor

Doug Saunders has covered more than 20 major championships and his unique perspectives on the game have appeared in numerous publications including Golf World, GolfWeek, Golf Course Management, Golf Course News, Golfdom, and the USGA Golf Journal. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, California Golf Writers, and the Sierra Nevada Golf Course Superintendents Association.


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