Riverdale Dunes: Play This Colorado Course for the Scottish Golf Experience

By Lynn Zmistowski, Contributor

Riverdale has two golf courses. The old club that has been there for several years is called Riverdale Knolls. The newer course, opened about the same year the Eisenhower Tunnel opened, about 1980 something, is called Riverdale Dunes.

If you really really really love golf, then you would probably really love to play golf in Scotland. Well, I can save you some money.

Riverdale Dunes is located about 20 miles straight east of Boulder. Whether you are driving there from Denver or from Boulder or from Ft. Collins, you feel like you are driving to the flattest part of Colorado. But then you turn into the golf courses off of Riverdale Road, pay your green fee and head for the first tee of the Dunes course.

(Oh, you will need a starting time, but they still take times the old fashion way, with a person answering the phone. Call 303/659-6700 to get the various requirements for advance calling.)

For 4 (maybe 41/2) hours you are going to enjoy one of the best golf courses in Colorado.

Riverdale Dunes gives you the absolute flavor of playing Scotland, only it is better! Yes, better.

In Scotland the weather is suspect, in Colorado our weather from May through October is ideal. In Scotland the condition of the courses is questionable, at Riverdale Dunes the best little greenskeeper keeps it in beautiful condition (D'Ann Kimbrell is one of the few female greens supts.).

The fairways are beautiful and green, greens are soft and receive your shots well, they putt well (about medium to fast speed). In Scotland there are very few water hazards, at Riverdale there are seven holes with water. The immediate rough is 21/2" but beyond the immediate the rough, the rough is torture (just like Scotland).

I have had the opportunity to play about 20 of the courses in Scotland so my comparison is supported by my own experience. Perry Dye (son of famous course architect, Pete Dye) has taken himself and his staff to Scotland many times to absorb the golf courses there. And he and his father Pete have worked what he has learned into Riverdale Dunes about as well as could possibly be done.

After each and every hole, you will look forward to getting to play the next hole. They are all that much fun. My favorite holes at Riverdale are #7, a tight hole with water from tee to green on the immediate left. #8 is the most fantastic short par 3 you can imagine. It has a wide shallow green with tiers guarded by bunkers and water. #9 is so Scottish, you have to play it to believe it. The 3rd shot won't be very long, but it will be blind (Scots have blind holes). #11 has water along the right side, #15 has a huge lake you must go around, #16 is a great par 5 with risk reward, little green. #17 is a fantastic par 3 with a huge green with severe mounding to your left, deep bunkering to your right and if you are very right, there is water.

At Riverdale the women have to select the tees that suits her skill level. Don't go walking to the forward tees automatically, they are 4940 yards long (67.6/123 course rating and slope). That is short and anyone with a 26 handicap or higher should play there. If you have a 15 to 25 handicap you should play some white and some red. You should try to always play the holes so you can hit them in regulation. If you play a wood, wood, wedge to a par 4 you are missing the point of the hole.

The hole will be more fun for you if when you hit a good drive you have an iron similar to what a professional level golfer would have from the very back tees. In other words if a professional level golfer from the back tee would hit a drive 8 iron to a par 4 hole, you should play the tee that gives you that same challenge. If you are a 14 or less, you should play all 18 from the white tees 5830 yards, 72.5/134 slope.

If you do play some red tees and some white tees, there is still a way you can turn in your score for handicap purposes.

Let's say you play 12 holes from the red and 6 from the white. Figure out how many more yards you have added by playing the white tees on those 6 holes. Let's say on #8 you play the white tee at 120 instead of the red tee at 80 yards. On that hole you have added 40 yards. Do that for all 6 holes you have teed back on the white and add those extra yards up. Go to page 50 in your CWGA Directory "posting a score from an unrated set of tees on a rated course." If you have added 240 yards on those 6 holes, go to the chart and it will say to add 1.3 to the women's course rating from the red tees, and add 3 to the slope. So the course rating for the course you played is 68.9/126.

The USGA even came out with a pamphlet with this procedure which you can get by calling the CWGA office (303/220-5456) or the USGA (908/234-2300).

Have fun, Riverdale Dunes is the best public golf course in the state (in my opinion).

Lynn Zmistowski, Contributor

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