Fox Hollow Golf Club Presents Numerous Challenges

By Nathan Jansch, Contributor

Imagine, if you will, facing a seven-ten split on a bowling lane. Needing to place the ball perfectly, or otherwise going away with disappointment. The same is true when playing Fox Hollow at Lakewood, Colorado. While the course doesn't present any distinct challenges, it does require straight shooting and severely penalizes anyone struggling with a slice.

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This 27 hole course, which can best be described as three nine hole courses, presents an array of beautiful and formidable holes, all of which favor the straight and narrow player to the long and wild.

The 27-hole layout consists of three sets of nine, designated the Links, the Meadows and the Canyon. Each designation accurately represents the terrain of the nine holes and sufficiently describes the varying styles of play that exist throughout. I had the pleasure of playing the Meadows as my first nine and the Links on the back side.

As one would most likely gather from the names, the Meadows offers water hazards, trees and narrow fairways all around. The Links, on the other hand, is much more open and plays a bit longer.

Both were a bear for me, though. Unfortunately, I had to suffer from a recurring slice when I made my way out to the course on an early Friday morning and save myself out of bounds a number of times as a result. The first five holes have water, in one form or another, on the right side, which swallowed up three balls right off and set the stage for a less than spectacular, yet enjoyable, round of golf.

On the 1st, a moderate par-5, water borders the landing area for the tee shot, with a few trees lining the left, making for a relatively easy start. The green is fronted with a few smallish bunkers, making an attempt for the green in two to be a little less than wise, but they present little danger even if you do find yourself in one of them.

The 2nd is a prime example of incorporating home construction nicely into a golf layout. Exquisite homes run along the left side of the hole but are separated from the play by a series of rolling hills and the cart path. On the right of the hole, lies a lake which is partially obscured when teeing off. Once again, a sliced tee shot will most likely leave you wet, while a well struck shot can leave you an easy seven iron into the green.

You get your first introduction to the natural areas of the course on the 3rd. While the aforementioned lake presents itself again on the right, Bear Creek comes into play on the left. This creek, which comes from the Bear Creek Reservoir, just west of the course, brings in some beautiful elements of nature, while not compromising the natural environment or the groomed appearance of the course.

Four is a fun little par-3 at only 145 yards from the blue tees. With a ravine isolating the tee box and a hill slightly obscuring the green from the tee, the 4th seems to present a challenge but becomes more friendly after heading up to the hole. A generous green allows for even the less than accurate shot to sit nicely and only a few small grass bunkers hinder the highly errant hits.

This leads me to the 5th, the best hole on the course. With trees and brush rustling all around and serving home to birds and creatures of all sorts, the tee box sits slightly elevated, looking down to a perfectly framed fairway. Two sets of trees narrow the hole approximately 75 yards in. These trees cause for a difficult drive, but serve as wonderful borders in a beautiful Nagelian picture with the warm green of the fairway down below, a glistening lake in the distance, woods serving as a backdrop, and cranes flying above in a deep blue sky.

I don't think I've seen anything like it and don't think you will have either. In the early morning hours, the tree lined green is nicely shaded and you can't go wrong. No matter what you hit on this number 1 handicapped par-4, you come away feeling better and enjoying the game of golf, with all of its wonders.

The remaining holes of the Meadows fail to compare to the picturesque 5th, but do round out the nine nicely with two par-4s, a par-3 and a par-5. The sixth has a blind tee shot, which I never care for, but becomes a fair hole provided that the tee shot is kept to the left off the tee. Seven is a pleasant and uneventful par-3 that is set amongst the trees. The distance from tee to green can be slightly deceiving, however, especially if the hole is cut in the back of the green.

A bunker which lies on the front right of the green devours any short shots, so all-in-all, if you feel in-between clubs on this 165 yard hole, I would advise choosing the longer club. The short rough on the back of the green presents little challenge in comparison to the sand up front.

Eight is the longest par-5 on the course, at 555 yards, and can legitimately be considered a par-6 for a shorter player. Rolling hills prevail on both sides of the fairway and can cause for some awkward lies when in the rough. A par 4 that leads up to the creek rimmed clubhouse, the 9th is another pleasant hole.

The Links is a far different course entirely, which for me, meant a turn for the worse when making my way to the back nine. I have a distinct preference for trees and narrow fairways which causes me to highly favor the Meadows portion of Fox Hollow to the others, especially in comparison to the Links.

The well-maintained conditions of the course prevail throughout, while the open layout of the Links made the freshly aerated greens to be more prone to being dry and sandy. Additionally, while the Links is considerably more hilly in nature, the overall flatness of the greens remains, making almost all putts a matter of distance rather than slope.

The 1st of the Links takes you uphill with a slight dog-leg left. A few bunkers lie on the back left of the green but don't come into play for most, as nearly everyone fails to accurately take into account the vertical distance involved when making their approach. The 2nd comes back down the hill with an easy par-3. A lake does protect the front left of the green, making any pin placement in the back left portion of the green to be a risky cup to go for from the tee.

Three, 4 and 5 are pretty much all the same types of holes. Long in distance, fairly open, with only a few trees sitting here and there, and really not all that enjoyable. On each, the long prairie grass deep rough takes you immediately out of the game should you be unfortunate enough to find yourself in the snake infested second cut.

Despite having fairly expansive fairways to aim for, I had the misfortune of finding my way onto the left side of things a number of times and walked away from the three holes +7 and minus three Titleists.

The 7th and 8th are the best holes on the Links nine. Their cut into a hillside strikes many similarities to Castle Pines Country Club, while their distance and layout allow for relaxed and easy play. From the elevated tee box of 7 you can see the Denver Technological Center in the distance, and a moderate 430 yard par-4 below.

A good drive can leave just 125 yards out and a large green proves very accepting to approach shots. A few shallow grass bunkers do surround the landing area, but present few problems as a result of the short first tier of rough. The 8th can be most accurately described by a quote from Matt Kramer, a member of my threesome and father of course assistant pro Mike Kramer: "Eight is a clever little par-3 with a hill in the middle of the hole."

The hill obscures your sight on a majority of the green and a fairly ominous bunker on the back left, when standing at the blue tees. The tee was set in the front right of the green during my round and made the hole a distance game, while it was apparent that any other pin placement would make this hole a game of chance and guessing instead.

The final hole of the Links nine was a relatively easy 400-yard par-4. Once again, a lake lies on the right side of the fairway and comes very much into play on your approach to the green. The green itself, as was customary for the course, is fairly large in its size and pretty flat, making the putting game not extraordinarily difficult.

And with only a few mounds surrounding the green, the Links ninth provides for a calming departure from a remarkable course.

The Canyon nine appeared to be almost a combination of the Meadows and the Links, with more trees and obstructions present than on the Links, but more spacious and open than the Meadows. A majority of the holes do lie along another creek and within a small canyon area, making the nomenclature quite accurate.

From the comments of Matt Kramer and a few others, I gathered that the Canyon is a formidable nine, with narrow fairways and thick deep rough, but is more enjoyable to a tree loving player like myself than the Links course.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed the course, despite having one of my worst outings ever. The Meadows is a fabulous nine hole with properly placed hazards that challenge your game and picturesque holes that make you ask for more.

In my opinion, though, the Links could be drastically improved with the addition of a number of trees and other elements, reducing the feeling of barrenness that exists, especially on holes 3-5. The course is an exceptional one though, and justly deserves to be played when visiting the Denver area.

Expect a drastic change in course design and form of play at the turn and be certain to carry a few extra sleeves of balls to compensate for any errant shots, which will almost undoubtedly find their way into your game at some time during this wonderful round.

Fox Hollow Golf Club
13410 W. Morrison Road
Lakewood, CO 80228
(303) 986-7888

Nathan Jansch, Contributor

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