Revitalized Lake Valley Golf Club Worth a Visit
LONGMONT, Colo. - I most definitely was of two minds as I walked away from Lake Valley Golf Club. On the one hand, I thought about what a travesty it was that this semi-private course was going to be closed off to the public in a matter of months.
On the other hand, I thought about what a pleasure it must be for the future members of this beautiful club and what a fantastic opportunity it was for me to play such a course.
"Nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills just north of Boulder" is a magnificent Press Maxwell course that strikes many a similarity with Augusta and others.
Its incorporation of elevation changes in the holes and undulating greens presents a challenging course, while still making the experience fully enjoyable.
Over the last decade, Lake Valley Golf Club has gone through a privatization process, going from a public course with 50,000 rounds being played per year, to a semi-private club with 280 members. This has caused fees to increase slightly and tees times to be a little less accessible, but the change in management philosophy has had a definite impact on course quality.
Drastic improvements have been made to the clubhouse, driving range and back nine, while plans are in the works to create a short game practice area and to enhance the already excellent front nine.
So, while the fees are on the high side, this golf course, which features outstanding views of the Flatirons, is worth the cost and is a must see before it becomes completely closed to the public. If you let this one go by, you'll be hard pressed to find another public course that offers so much and is so well maintained.
The first two holes get you started on the right foot, with two fairly easy par-4s. The 1st is a straight-away hole and a very moderate 408 yards. Water on both sides of the fairway, at 300 yards out, only comes into play if you're in trouble off the tee and need to make your way out of the rough.
The first green, while nothing extraordinary, does give you your first taste of the difficulty with which the short game plays on this par 70 course. As is the case with most Maxwell courses, the greens all feature a number of swells and valleys and are surround by a number of hills and bunkers, making the phrase "an easy up and down for par" a thing of dreams. The game doesn't even begin until you get 25 yards out. The 2nd is a fair 30 degree dog leg left.
The 2nd becomes a distant thought in the back of your mind when you get to the tee box on 3, so I'll just cut to the chase. Three is massive. And three is impressive. This uphill, 460 yard, dog leg right, par-4 is a challenge for everyone, but is as rewarding as it is difficult.
With a good drive down the center, you're left with a shot that's anywhere from 200-250 yards out. Now, if you're not frightened by the prospect of having to stick a shot on a sloping green from 200 yards out, feel free to continue your play. One thing though: go up two club lengths on your approach shot to take into account the vertical distance involved. And by the way, there's a sizable bunker sitting on the front edge of the green ready and waiting to swallow anything that's left short. The tree lined fairways and scenic views of the Flatirons and the Colorado plains are spectacular, making the trek well worth while.
Despite the spectacular nature of the 3rd, I'd actually have to say that the 4th is my favorite. This short par-4 would be driveable for some, if it weren't for a deep valley in the landing area that limits the roll of any well struck ball.
The hole is situated atop a hill that slopes sharply into a lake below and offers a wonderful opportunity for par or birdie for most players. The view of the Flatirons is unfettered and a forward sloped green makes the hole warm and inviting. A hill in the middle of the fairway makes things a little risky and five deep bunkers surround the green, forcing you to be careful on the approach.
The middle of the front offers two par-3s and a par-4 that are all quite playable and fun. The par 3 5th is a reasonable 180 yards, but can be problematic for some as the hole looks longer than it states and forces many to over shoot the green. The homes behind the green serve evidence of this with a number of ball marks showing on their roofs and siding.
Six and 7 are two comfortable holes that you'll probably be able to relate to, no matter where you're from. Their length is not insurmountable and their slight decline from tee to green makes things relaxed, while houses, trees and a deep rough take you down the fairway.
Eight is another marquis hole on the course. A lake on the left and the few trees on the right are quite striking, while a couple of small trees and a mild bunker up front, lightly guard the green. Highlighted in a number of other golf publications, the 8th is an example in pure beauty.
There's not a lot to say about its difficulty or the slope of the hole, but it sure it pretty with glistening water on the left and trees casting furtive shadows along the way.
The 9th is the first of only two par-5s on the course, and in all honesty, leaves nothing to be desired. There is little separating the fairway from the driving range on the left, while a creek 150 yards from the tee could be brought into play nicely, instead of sitting idle as it currently is.
The planting of a number of trees on the far left and the development of a pond close to the tee would add another dimension to the hole. Lake Valley could also take a design feature of Castle Pines and incorporate a series of rolling hills and fairway bunkers on the right side to give the hole a bit more depth and challenge.
I normally don't go the way of ESPN and try to come up with cute names for things, but there was something the par-5 11th that compelled me to name it "The Tiger." I guess it was the 590 yards from tee to green, along with the wide open fairway and slight incline to the hole that made think of the driving specialist Tiger Woods.
It's a monster hole that can be described in no other way than as a driver's hole. On this hole, it was apparent that the wet Colorado spring has had its effect on course conditions, with an extremely long rough causing some difficult shots, should you stray from the wide fairway.
This problem does look to be resolved though as the year goes on, with a short first tier of rough to be mowed in and the current rough dropped in length.
Twelve through 15 circle around a large lake and all bring in a number of water hazards. The 13th is the most difficult of these holes, a 420 yard par 4 with water protecting the front edge of the green. While the distance alone isn't all that challenging, the water separating the fairway from the green complicates things immensely. As was the case on the long 3rd, the hazard up front takes away the rolling shot to the green.
So what's left? A perfectly placed long iron shot with tremendous back spin to hold the green which also has a bunker on the left and water off to the right. You can imagine I didn't par this hole, although bogey is quite achievable and wholly respectable.
The final holes of the course bring you home nicely with fantastic views of the brand new clubhouse sitting behind the 18th green and more spectacular vistas of the Flatirons as you look back on your round of golf.
The thick rough that persisted on the day that I was out, presented a few problems on the home stretch, while a set of bunkers on the front edge of the green put a fitting touch on this marvelous 18 that played hardest around the green, but gave up just enough to have me coming back for more.
Lake Valley Golf Club
4400 Lake Valley Drive
Longmont, CO 80503
Greens Fees (Non-members)*:
Weekday $45.00 / $28.00
Sat., Sun, Holiday $50.00 / $33.00
*All prices include cart and range token
November 30, -0001