Haymaker: A Touch of Scotland in Colorado

By Andrew Mosier, Contributor

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLO.-- Rolling hills, cavernous bunkers and deep rough traits made famous by the historic courses in Scotland have been successfully duplicated at Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat Springs.

This Keith Foster-designed course gives golfers of all abilities a taste of St. Andrew's, only with a better view. There are lots of rough, sand and water on the back nine, but in Scottish tradition, not a tree in sight.

Haymaker is not that challenging of a course for low-handicapped players, even from the championship tees, but the deep rough may give golfers whose first shots tend to stray beyond the confines of the fairway quite a headache and cause them to give up a lot of balls.

This 6,728-yard course plays a lot shorter than it would appear. Booming drives are discouraged by the countless fairway bunkers conveniently placed about where most tee-shots should end up. Black and white striped poles are placed where first shots should be played, which could make the round easy if your three-iron is working well.

Haymaker is best suited for what can be considered the average golfer, 10-36 handicap. Higher handicapped golfers may struggle keeping the ball in play while players with a handicap below ten might not find the course particularly challenging.

The two-year-old course is in fairly good shape, though many of the fairways and tee-boxes are still a little patchy, and those problems tend to be on the holes near the clubhouse. The back nine is in a lot better shape than the front, but overall, the conditions were adequate considering the apparent heavy use.

Surprisingly, the greens were in good shape. They are big and hilly. The designer seemed to have some kind of fetish for crowned greens, which rise in the middle and slant down on either side. Many of the pins were placed on the ridges, which made reading putts interesting on the fast, unforgiving greens.

The front nine was fairly devoid of character, failing to live up to the nicknames given to each hole on the score card. Most of the holes were pretty much the same. I think this was done to give everyone the chance to absorb the Scottish theme, as well as figure out how to play the course conservatively.

The back nine is what gives this course true character, as well as increasing the difficulty, bringing water into play on a majority of the holes, including No. 12, entitled "Greywall," named after the gray stone wall encasing the front of the green from the ball devouring lake the hole is played over.

What should be an easy nine-iron into the green 152-yards away is made more difficult by the water that lays in front of the green. The narrow fairway running along the left side of the magnetic lake gives little solace for shots that come up short. Anything hit over the green is gone. A large hill backs the large three-tiered green, with deep bunkers snatching anything hit long. Nothing short of a perfect shot will make this hole play easy.

The rest of the course looks and plays pretty much the same. It seemed to me, each time the designer thought of something different to add, he would then incorporate that particular design feature into each hole. One of the most obvious examples of this are the hills that surround the greens on basically every hole after 12. The hills make things challenging, forcing you to put the ball onto the green, but it got old hitting my second shot into a cereal bowl the entire back nine.

Haymaker is a fun course to play. It is challenging to high handicappers, but I think tends to lull to sleep better golfers with very little change from hole to hole. By the end of the day, it seemed like I was playing on one, long, never-ending hole. I wished for more holes like "Greywall," but there were none, just wide open, straight-away golf.

If you have a chance, stop in for a beer after your round. The staff there was incredibly friendly, especially the beer girl, who made an extra trip out to see us before she went home. There is a nice little bar offering a wide range of munchies and beer, which can be enjoyed while watching the sun set on the patio.

Greens fees are steep, $69, but most people who play the course will not play it regularly. It is worth playing, at least once, just because it is unlike most golf courses found in the state. It is fun, and has the potential for very low scores.

Haymaker is located on Highway 40, about three miles east of Steamboat. Tee times can be made up to seven days in advance by calling (970) 870-1846.

RATINGS: (out of five)
Condition: ***
Playability, 36 handicap or more: ***
Playability, 10-36: ****
Playability, 0-10: ***

The "Playability" categories are based on enjoyment. It measures how much we think you will enjoy playing this course with your current handicap.

Andrew Mosier, Contributor

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment