Everything about Trinidad (Colorado) Municipal Golf Course rings true
TRINIDAD, Colo. -- So, how many golf courses have you played this year where you have to listen for a bell before you proceed with your tee shot? The bell is Trinidad Municipal Golf Course's trademark and the bell hole is no. 2, a 326-yard par-four blind tee shot. On the tee there's a sign telling you to wait for the bell signal. Then hit your blind shot down the left fairway boundary, because this fairway slopes hard from left to right. If you are down in the neighborhood of the bell, you have approximately 125 yards uphill to a green that won't allow you to roll it on.
It's not glamor golf, but that's what Trinidad locals probably like most about it. This is a Cadillac course at Chevrolet prices. Voted the best nine-hole course in the state in 1993 by Colorado Golfer, the Trinidad Municipal Golf Course is fun and unique. It is beautifully manicured. It has great views of Trinidad's Fisher's Peak, the Sangre de Cristos and the Spanish Peaks. All this for $20. Trinidad Muny is one of the best buys in Colorado golf.
Ring a bell? What other ways do you know of to alert players when it is safe to tee off on a blind shot? At Pacific Grove Municipal next door to Pebble Beach in Monterey, Calif., there's a blind tee shot that uses a suspended, large slanting mirror. On the tee you strain your neck, look up and the mirror enables you to look far down the fairway. Mike Dixon, a local Trinidad low-handicapper, says he's played another bell hole on a par 3 at Cruden Bay, Scotland.
Trinidad Municipal, located on I-25 just 13 miles north of the New Mexico state line, is a relatively short course (6,160 for the men) that low-handicappers could scorch, but that's not to say it isn't a challenge. Keep it on the fairways because there's all kinds of trouble when you hit it crooked. Greens are excellent, but most are also sloping from back to front -- there aren't too many flat, straight putts to be had.
The par-fives are the easiest, but he par-threes are tough. The 181-yard no. 7 is one of those tee shots that plays almost like an island. Missing the green means you are probably in trouble, but hitting the green is no bargain either. If you have a long putt most likely it's going to have a lot of break, and if you are above the hole just pray for a two-putt. The tee box for the second nine makes it longer and has a completely different look. You can hit the tee shot dead on the pin, think it is a winner, and if it doesn't carry 10 feet on it will roll back off the green.
The other par-three, only 135 yards as no. 5, has a sloped green from back to front and takes proper placement to remain on the green. You have to hit it on the right side of the green to stay on, and if you miss just a little bit right of the green collar the ball will just bounce straight and down a slope to the right. Hit it within the green boundary and the ball will take the slope to the left.
The "second" nine has different tee boxes, most lengthening each hole.
Dixon, who grew up in Trinidad, said the course actually influenced his decision to move back home. "I was working at a national accounting firm in Tulsa thinking about shelling out $2,500 for a club membership," Dixon said. "I just kept thinking about the course back home. I think it is by far the best maintained public facility I've ever played.
"It is playable for all levels. It's not brutal for a beginner and it's challenging for the experts. And when you reach that third tee box and look out over the Sangre de Cristos it's an awesome sight," Dixon said.
This golf course dates so far back (1915) that the architect is unknown.
"There has been a lot of speculation that it was designed by Donald Ross," said Guido Pachelli, course superintendent. Ross, of course, designed Pinehurst, and in 1918 Ross completed the Broadmoor East Course.
On May 30, 1940 the course "re-opened" as a "grass" course after a WPA project sponsored by the city and interested local golfers. The WPA planted the elm trees that line most fairways. Native trees on the course are pinons.
Dixon has heard a Donald Ross story, too, but it concerns Trinidad seeking the advice of a guy who was on Ross' construction crew at the Broadmoor East.
"I heard this guy gave the people working on the Trinidad course some assistance on redoing the green banks and rerouting some holes. Lots of people have said that the course does have some Ross characteristics," Dixon said.
Needless to say the local golfers have hoped for an expansion to 18 holes for many years. There have been talks from time to time and another discussion will happen this fall. One scenario is to expand on property just south and adjacent to the course. This property is owned by three different families. Another option is land on the west side of I-25 (the existing course is on the east side of I-25), where one landowner actually has drawn up plans for an 18-hole course.
Trinidad Municipal hosts a busy summer schedule (Memorial Day through Labor Day) of weekend and holiday tournaments, so call before you make the drive. Take the Sante Fe Trail exit off I-25 and go east one block (road curves) to find the golf course.
June 26, 2002