Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course: A taste of the mountains just outside of Denver, Colorado
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Located halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver Metro is an encouraging site just west of Interstate 25 -- a mountain golf course with extreme elevation, wildlife, rolling terrain and dramatic vistas. Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course first opened May 7, 1999, and has had a tremendous first season.
Red Hawk was designed by award-winning golf course architect Jim Engh, known locally for his design of Sedalia's private Sanctuary Golf Course. The 6,942-yard course combines playability with challenge and gifts the golfer with spectacular Front Range Mountain scenery.
Red Hawk hosted the 2000 U.S. Amateur Qualifying and 2000 Saturday Series PGA Tour. In 1999, they hosted the Mid-Amateur Championships. With continued success reports, this course is tempting enough to try.
Five sets of tees welcome (and even encourage) golfers of all experience and skill levels to enjoy this course, which offers risk/reward opportunities for all levels. The back tee is challenging enough to keep the best golfer humble, and the front tee is rewarding enough to keep those new players coming back for more.
The front nine holds 3,384 yards and begins with a par 5. This hole only hints at the awe-inspiring views yet to come. A sharp dogleg left requires an almost blind tee shot around the corner and up to an elevated tee. This hole is forgiving, unless you end up too far left in the grassy area where it's hard to find your ball, but you'll find this true on most of this course. No. 2 is an elevated tee box downhill par 4 with a slight dogleg left, but at 379 yards from the back tee, it's easily obtainable. An elevated, downhill par 3 at 185 yards follows.
The next hole offers another elevated tee looking down on a valley that feeds into a lake. Stay left on this par 4 and you'll be safe. Too far left and you'll be in native grass, counting another lost ball. Jumping ahead to the par 3 at No. 6 is a 181-yard lob over a lake with a long green and bunkers all across the front.
The back nine starts off with a par 4, 412-yard, with a hazard in front of the green, quite tempting for those risk-takers and intimidating for those new players. Play it safe and right down the middle, setting up just in front of the "ditch" hazard, and you'll find an easily playable 100 yards to the long, but wide green.
I was told that Hole 14 is considered Red Hawk Ridge's signature hole. I'll admit I was rendered speechless. At the elevated, par-3 tee box, you'll have a panoramic view of Long and Pikes Peak. You'll see the undulating hills of the course below you as well as Castle Rock. Your shot is 216 yard downhill to a wide green, over water. Again, the green is protected in the front with bunkers.
The next hole was my favorite. A 528-yard par 4 shoots blind to a plateau, then downhill into a valley where the green lies at the bottom. This fairway was particularly generous and plush with subtle undulations along the way.
The back nine ends with a challenging 533-yard par 5 with a lake on the right surrounded by bunkers. The green was slightly elevated to the lakeside. The fairway approach was smooth to the right for those non-risk takers, but it's difficult to resist wanting to lie up and then shoot for the green over the lake. Be prepared to gain a stroke or lose a ball.
After completing the first nine, I found the course was very playable and treated the cautious player fairly. The risk taker was often rewarded and just as often penalized. The same held up on the back nine.