Red Hawk Ridge is Another Colorado Beauty

By Lynn Zmistowski, Contributor

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. - Red Hawk Ridge is another Colorado beauty, similar to the The Ridge at Castle Pines North. In other words, it is located in the foot of the mountains, it is an exceptionally well designed golf course, has excellent greens, is well maintained, has very beautiful surroundings and is very challenging.

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Red Hawk Ridge golf course has a lot of elevation changes because the land it is built on is pretty severe. It is outstanding how the course architect (Jim Engh) worked the holes into the terrain. Some of the holes are extremely hard because they are straight up-hill and others are pretty easy because they are very down hill. The fairways are fairly generous. If you are not in the fairway, the rough has a lot of topography so recovery is difficult. The bunkers are very well shaped and are very penalizing. The sand quality is excellent.

There is not too much water on Red Hawk Ridge, but on the 3 holes with water, the water is very much in play. The greens at Red Hawk Ridge are superb. They have had all the mountain like character smoothed out of them so once you arrive on the greens the putting is very fair.

There is none of the usual mountain trickiness where the greens break off a certain mountain peak regardless of how they look. At Red Hawk Ridge, if you see a break from left to right, the putt will break left to right. The green speed is perfect, I am guessing they stimp about 9 to 9.5.

Red Hawk Ridge is not as expensive as The Ridge at Castle Pines North and yet the quality of the golf course is very much equal to it. The green fees were $47 and the cart was optional. I would recommend taking a cart unless you are a devout and dyed-in-the-wool walker.

I think pulling a cart at Red Hawk Ridge would be extremely tough, but the guy we followed today was doing it. The service was pretty good - but not at the level of Castle Pines North. There was no one unloading your clubs at the bag drop and no one putting your clubs on your cart. Range balls are extra. Everyone was very upbeat, enthusiastic and friendly. The clubhouse hasn't been started yet so minimal trailers are having to suffice.

The rainshelters are the worst I have ever seen, which brings me to the one drawback of Red Hawk Ridge. It is the weather. We all know that storms like to cruise through the Castle Rock area, and sure enough, about 2 p.m. the storms were coming.

But the afternoon storms from the mountains are fairly common so we can put up with the storms (if we have adequate protection with rainshelters). I didn't even see that these inadequate rainshelters had a lighting rod to protect you from lightning strikes.

But the afternoon rain storms aren't the worse of the weather, the wind is the worse. The day we played the wind was blowing about 30 mph all day. Some of the holes are on top of mountain peaks and the wind was blowing even harder up there. This was on a day when it was not windy anywhere else in the Colorado area. Denver was calm, Castle Pines was calm, Boulder was calm. But Red Hawk was blowing hard.

So we asked about it - we asked one of the workers on the course, "does the wind blow like this all the time?". Answer: "Yes, blows like this or more most of the time". Then we asked a ranger and he said that he had worked at RHR for two weeks and it had blown everyday so far. From two other sources we heard the wind today was not near as bad as it can be.

Red Hawk Ridge is definitely a wonderful course in wonderful condition. If you don't mind the wind blowing pretty hard, you will enjoy this masterpiece. I would give the course a 7.0 (out of 10, 10 is best), only because I personally don't like playing on courses with so much elevation change and topography and I am spoiled and no longer enjoy the challenge of a good 30 mph wind. I think it is very difficult to play from downhill, uphill, sidehill, etc., lies so I will be glad to play a regular ol' course tomorrow (Wellshire).

To get a starting time at Red Hawk Ridge call 303/663-7150. It is easy to find, just drive down I-25 and take the main exit into the north end of Castle Rock and turn right (west) and you will come to signs to follow and you will be there.

Lynn Zmistowski, Contributor

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