Rifle Creek Golf Course –fun near the Rifle Gap

Rifle Creek Golf Club
Rifle Creek Golf Club

Rifle, Colorado was not our original destination. Our plans to spend a mid-summer weekend in Glenwood Springs changed because of the lack of hotel rooms. Having never visited Rifle before, we decided to check out the town and the golf course.

The Rifle Creek Golf Course is about three miles outside of town on State Highway 325, on the way to Rifle Gap State Park. The course is in a pretty valley, at the base of the Grand Hogback Range. We had set up our tee time on Golf Now, so check-in at the desk was quick and easy. The staff were very nice and efficient. Soon, we were in our cart and at the first tee.

The course is 6, 267 from the back tees, and 5,127 from the fronts. There are three sets of tee boxes, allowing the more novice players to keep up with the better golfers.

The front nine

Hole #1 is a mid-range par 4 at 358 from the backs and 323 from the front. From this elevated tee box it looks like the ball is going a mile. The dogleg turn is almost exactly half way down the fairway. Unless you’re quite the power hitter, it would be tough to carry the trees on the left. Once past the bend, the approach to the green is easy. We were off!

It was a beautiful morning, and as we teed up on #2, we marveled at the beauty of the mountains around us. Number 2 is a par 5 at 346 from the tips and 450 from the fronts. It’s lined with trees, but pretty straight. The fairway tends to slope downward and you do need to watch for the creek that runs in front of the green. There was a sand trap hiding in the shadows to the right of the green, but it really wasn’t in play for us.

Moving on to #3, my husband sighed as he climbed up to the tee box and saw that he would be shooting over creek and the bushes lining the bank. Since I was on the forward tee boxes, I had a clear shot. This is a shorter par 4, with 261 to the green from the reds. It’s a very slight dogleg right. What makes this interesting are the trees lined up on the right side of the fairway. If you avoid getting in those trees, the approach to the green is pretty easy.

We finished up and motored to #4. This hole is at the back of the course, with native grasses to the right. It’s a par 5, and the longest on the course for the back tees, at 512 from the tips, and 478 from the whites. It’s downhill and a slight dogleg right. When teeing off the back tees, the approach to the fairway seemed tight. With the mountain and native grasses right and the trees left, it looked intimidating to me. Luckily, the forward tee box is a bit closer and aiming to the center of the fairway was easy. There’s a huge pine tree at the bend in the dogleg. Once past that, the downhill fairway funnels the ball to the green.

Number 5 is a short part 3 over the pond and behind the clubhouse. The back tees shoot through the trees to the elevated green. A wayward shot may end up under a tree. Be accurate here

Hole #6 is a par 5 for the red tees and par 4 for the back tees. If you’re shooting from the tips, you’ll be shooting through the trees and back over the creek to a wide fairway. The creek follows the fairway, but really isn’t in play. This is a slight dogleg right to a slightly elevated green. The views from the green are beautiful.

On number 7, the back tees shoot over the creek onto a pretty straight fairway. No hazards here.

On #8, players shoot down a straight fairway with a large pond on the left. A berm guards the pond, so you have to work at getting the ball in the water. The green can’t really be called an island green, but the creek surrounds it on three sides. Of course, with the creek comes big cottonwood trees. The green has a definite right to left slope, so getting a ball to stick could be a challenge.

The final hole on this side is a straight par 3, ending up back at the clubhouse. The pond is on the left, but it’s really not in play.

I really liked the front of this course. It’s pretty flat and straight, making it easier for the high handicapper to get to the green without too much trouble. The better players can work on shot placement, and maybe drive the shorter par 4’s.

The back nine

The back nine at Rifle Creek is completely different from the front. The back of the course is more a mountain course, with more elevation changes and excellent views.

Hole #10 is across the street, not far from the driving range. It’s a dogleg left at 389 from the tips and 312 from the front, with a pond next to the tee boxes. It’s pretty straight and flat, with a large sand trap on the left about half way down the fairway.

Number 11 is the first par 3 on this side. At 200 from the tips and 118 from the fronts, it’s not that far. Players are shooting to a slightly elevated green sheltered by a large hill on the right and a deep bunker on the left. Keep right here – use the hill on the right to roll the shot towards the center of the green.

After handling number 11, Hole #12 starts up the mountain. The hole is pretty straight, with the tee boxes set on the left side. Players are hitting up the hill, 371 from the back tees and 301 from the fronts. The entire fairway slopes down, right to left so it’s prudent to try to put your shot at the far right on the fairway. There’s a creek winding through just in front of the green, so be careful here. Our shots ended up in the native areas on the right, but luckily the balls were easy to find.

Still climbing, number 13 is a dogleg right. Players are shooting from 448 from the backs and 368 from the front tee box. There’s a forced carry here over the native grasses – for the fronts it’s 145 and for the backs it’s 225. There’s plenty of fairway once you get over, with no other hazards for most of us, unless you can hit far enough to put it on the hill that lines the fairway. Once in the middle, the fairway slopes from left to right. It’s an elevated green, so you many need a bit more club to get over the sand and onto the green.

Number 14 is the signature hole here – or at least it should be. This hole is not really that long at 405 from the back and 314 from the front. Players hit from an elevated tee box that provides views of the surrounding golf course and beyond. Hit pretty straight from here or the ball finds the thick trees on the left or the native scrub areas to the right. The fairway slopes right to left so stay right, just out of the junk. This eleveated green is protected by a large, deep bunker on the left.

Hole #15 is a short par 3, but the views from the tee box are magnificent. This hole is harder than it looks, with players shooting down from elevated tee boxes to a large green. The mountain backs the green, with a couple of pot bunkers and a pond on the right. There really isn’t any fairway to speak of, so be accurate here.

Winding up the mountain, number 16 also has elevated tee boxes and wonderful views. This hole is a par 4, with 390 from the backs and 268 from the fronts. It’s a sharp dogleg left. Strong hitters might have a chance at cutting the corner to the green, though it’s over a hill and a blind shot. There is a creek that runs in front of the green at 16, so be aware with the approach shot.

Number 17 is also a dogleg left, and the longest hole on this side of the course at 509 from the tips and 435 from the front. From the elevated tee boxes many strong hitters can cut the corner. The fairway is pretty narrow, so be careful the ball doesn’t end up in the trees and rough lining the fairway. The green slopes from left to right with a large bunker on the left.

The 18th is the final par 4 here, with the fairway hugging the large pond on the right. Stay left with tee shots to avoid the water and to set up the approach shot with the water out of play. There’s a large rock formation in the middle of the fairway to aim at near the curve of the dogleg right.

We really liked this course. The back nine is different from the front, feeling like you’ve played two different courses. For the high handicapper, there are a few holes that could be frustrating because of the carries, but overall it is pretty forgiving. For the low handicapper, there’s plenty of challenge in shot placement and club selection. We’ll be back.

Rifle Creek Golf Course, 3004 Hwy 325, Rifle, Colorado 81650, www.riflecreekgolf.com, 970-625-1093.

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Tahquitz Golf Resort – front nine

During our trip to Palm Springs in May, M and I played both Tahquitz courses, the Legends and the Resort course. I put together a video of the front nine on the Resort course, using the photos that I took while we played. This course is pretty fun. For the high handicapper, it’s challenging though not discouraging. For the low handicapper, strategic placement of the ball can avoid the desert areas and the water that comes into play on several holes.

The front nine doesn’t have as many bunkers in play as the back. This is a Ted Robinson design, and allows for those of us who can’t drive the greens or place the ball easily. The water comes into play on the front, particularly on #7 and #8.  Good luck!



The ins and outs of equitable stroke control

Pole Creek Golf Course Hole #7
Pole Creek Golf Course Hole #7

It’s Spring in the Rocky Mountain West and golf leagues have officially started. At the kickoff meeting for our golf league, the big question for the pros that run the league and course was all about equitable stroke control or ESC. I don’t remember ever hearing about this in my years of holding a handicap and it’s how our league scores for the Colorado Golf Association handicap.


Here’s how it works.

In league play, we count all our stokes.  Let’s just say that occasionally, some of us have to take an extra number of strokes on a hole. Maybe we got caught in a sand trap and took a few to get out, or lost a ball in the weeds. Not that it happens to anyone that often, right?

When we go to the computer to post our round, it’s important to check the handicap sheet next to the computer. Based on your handicap, there are a maximum number of strokes taken on a hole. The sheet looks like this:

Nine-hole course handicap

Maximum number on any hole

4 or less

Double Bogey

5 through 9


10 through 14


15 through 19


20 or more



If my handicap is 30, I can post no more than 10 on any hole for calculating my handicap. If my handicap is 4, any hole where I counted more than 3 over par changes to a double bogey.  This scoring is just for calculating handicap. Players should input their adjusted score in the computer.

Our league manager set up different games for us to play. For example, he may only count the 3 best holes on your card for prizes that week. For these competitions, the actual stroke count determines the winner. Thanks for Greg for figuring all this out for us, because we get lost on some of these competitions!

For each week we play in league, there are two different scores being used – one for handicap and one for the league competition. For handicap, we input our scores into the computer based on the ESC guidelines. For the league competition, the league manager uses our score cards with the actual stroke count to calculate the winners.

In reality, it’s not often players need to adjust their scores for handicap. Many of the players in our league have double-digit handicaps in any case, so unless something goes very wrong, there is little need for adjustments. Our home course is an Executive nine, so there is only one par 5 and two par 4 holes. It’s rare someone with a nine-hole handicap of 15 would shoot a 10 on a par 3, 100 yard hole. But if it happens, the Golf Gods have a way of compensating us for that error.

Are you aware if your league used equitable stroke control? Let us know!


Denver Golf Expo – 2014

Denver Golf Expo 2014 - Entrance
Denver Golf Expo 2014 – Entrance

It’s time again for the The Denver Golf Expo today and tomorrow at the Denver Mart. A friend and I arranged to meet and car pool to the event, arriving a few minutes before the doors opened. We registered for the drawings and signed up for our free copies of Golf Digest, then headed into the venue.

The first stop was the CWGA booth. The Colorado Women’s Golf Association is working to add value to the membership through additional discounts at courses in the Denver area. We signed up for their drawing and continued into the main Expo space.

Since the event had just opened, we headed over to the PGA booths where pros were giving free 10 minute lessons. Signing up at the Golf Tec booth for an evaluation in about an hour, we walked over to visit with one of the golf courses we’d like to play this year. Wandering through the vendor area, we stopped at several booths and chatted with the representatives, signed up for drawings and collected swag.


Heading back over to the PGA booths, we both had our 10-minute lessons. The pro, Reggie Sanchez, used video to film the swing and detail the flaws. It makes a difference knowing exactly what the problem is and how to make a correction. Maybe I’ll practice hitting my driver with Reggie’s advice in mind.

I’ve always liked this event. The vendors are very nice and I like chatting with the golf course representatives. Although today I didn’t stay for any sessions, the ones in the past were very informative. There is also lots of equipment for sale and lots of interesting specialty items. Just as the crowds started building, we headed home to pull out the discount golf coupons from our collection.

Do you attend golf shows? Let us know.


Growing the game

During the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando last week, Mark King, the CEO of TaylorMade introduced their idea for speeding up play. The 14-inch cup more than triples the target on the green from the current 4.25 inch cup, and speeds up play on the green. This idea is not a new one. Jack Nicholas talks about increasing the size of the cup in the green to an 8 inch diameter for amateurs and high-handicappers. Both men talk about the increased pace of play and more enjoyment for new and less skilled players.

The slow pace of play seems to be the biggest complaint on the course. So, how does that problem get solved? TaylorMade is hosting a blog site called Hackgolf.org, collecting ideas to make golf more attractive to new players as well as current players. Ideas range from adding leagues for young players and new adult players to creating Big Break-style competitions to attract more interest. Of course, some say that the game is perfect in its current form and folks should learn to play without any additional changes.

Barney Adams, the father of Tee it Forward promotes shortening the game to make it more enjoyable and faster. The point of golf is to be outside and have fun. When it’s work for a player to get to the green, the fun starts to seep away. Adams wonders why amateurs feel the only way to play a course is from the back tees. That rule doesn’t appear in the rulebook. Players should play from tees that allow them to be on the green in regulation without any herculean efforts. The game isn’t any easier, just more enjoyable and oftentimes faster.

This topic is a perennial within the golf community. Over time, perhaps a combination of the Tee it Forward philosophy and some changes in the rules or setup for new players will help reduce the number of players that quit because it’s just not fun anymore.

What do you think would speed up play?

Warm weather golf trips to Nevada and Arizona

It’s the beginning of January, and the snow is falling consistently, and has  been for several hours. Yesterday was 60 degrees, but my request to play was declined due to snow on the greens. So sad.


Time to dream of getting out of this winter wonderland and enjoying some sunshine. For those close to Nevada or Arizona, there is hope. Remarkable Travel has packages to Laughlin, Nevada. Four players spend three nights at the Colorado Belle (double occupancy) and play four different courses:

  • Boulder Creek
  • Los Lagos
  • Mojave
  • Laughlin Ranch

The package starts at $465 for weekdays and $489 for weekends, and the four players split the mini-van rental. Package includes golf, lodging, and car taxes. Visit Remarkable Travel Group for more information and other packages available.

I’ve never used this travel service, though they have several packages available focused on women’s golf travel. I’m always happy to promote folks that encourage traveling with my husband and girlfriends to play golf!

For those who prefer Arizona, Golfzoo.com has a special in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. Four players stay at the Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center and play

    • Golf Club at Eagle Mountain
    • The Raven Phoenix
    • A.S.U. Karsten
    • Longbow Golf Club

The package includes lodging and golf with a cart. The prices start at $219 per player per day. Contact Chris Parcell (888.867.6911) or Lori Greene (888.867.6921) in our Phoenix/Scottsdale office for details, and a customized itinerary.

Stay warm!





Las Vegas golf specials after the holidays

It’s been quite a few months for us here. With golf season pretty much over in the Rocky Mountain West, I spent some time traveling and working at my day job. I spent 2 1/2 weeks in Spain, visiting La Alberca, Madrid, Sevilla, Cadiz, and Barcelona. Unfortunately, it was too cold to golf in any of those places, except Cadiz. But, no golf in Spain this time around.


M and I did play on Friday afternoon here in the Denver area. The temps were in the 50s and the sun was shining. We played a quick 9 holes at our favorite executive course. There were very few folks on the course. The course was quite dry and the tee boxes were beat up. I’m sure once we get closer to Spring the super over there will work on the grass. Shot par on two holes, but I didn’t really keep score anywhere else. Just a friendly game.

Doing some research on golf trips for the winter. The Siena and Arroyo Golf Clubs in Las Vegas, Nevada are running stay-and-play packages for the winter. Stay at the Red Rock Hotel, Spa, and Casino for one night with one round of golf starting at $119 per person. Stay at the Suncoast Hotel and Casino for one night with one round of golf starting at $85 per night. It’s best to call the resorts and confirm the dates, times, and maintenance schedules for the golf course.

M and I are planning a golf outing to warmer climes, probably in March. Keep you posted.