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Ranch and River Courses keep golf in the forefront at Keystone Resort in Colorado

By David R. Holland, Contributor

KEYSTONE, Colo. -- Poor, little ole golf. At a resort that boasts world class snow skiing, boating, rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, ice skating and fly fishing, going on Mark Twain's proverbial "good walk spoiled" could be the last thing on guests' minds.

Keystone Resort - Ranch golf course
Keystone Resort's Ranch Course is one of the most highly decorated golf courses in Colorado.
Keystone Resort - Ranch golf course

That is, unless the resort in question is home to two award-winning championship courses designed by prodigal son Robert Trent Jones Jr. and the underrated architectural team of Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry. Truth be told, Keystone Resort's Ranch and River Courses are so solid, so scenic, and so sought after by traveling golfers that they could easily be the singular purpose for a visit to this Rocky Mountain haven.

"A lot of our golf is driven by conferences and minigroups that are looking for a mountain resort with conference space and meeting opportunities on the greens," says Keystone Resort director of golf Steve Corneillier. "But we've become a popular golf getaway for those looking to lose the heat. Both courses peak at around 9,340 feet of elevation, and our humidity runs between ten and 20 percent."

And both courses are more than worth the trek to this famous resort area located just an hour west of Denver in Summit County. Once a stagecoach station on an eastbound route into Denver, Keystone has blossomed into a world-class ski resort and a quaint, pedestrian friendly village that is the envy of city planners across the country.

Keystone Resort's Ranch Course

Keystone Resort's Ranch Course opened in 1980 to critical acclaim and remains one of the most highly decorated golf courses in Colorado. The course's front nine is a high altitude version of a Scottish Links style course, winding its way through the high-meadows and sagebrush of a former Ute and Arapaho Indian Buffalo hunting ground. The back nine quickly morphs into a traditional Colorado mountain course, with awesome views of the Continental Divide, Buffalo Mountain and the Tenmile Range.

"The Ranch Course is a true test of traditional golf, and it is a test of shotmaking," Corneillier says. "The key to the Ranch Course is to be humble and pay attention to the shotmaking because there is some very strategic placement. It is narrow and there is not much room for error on the front nine. The back nine is much more forgiving, and you can attack the pins on most of the greens."

Also playing from Vail Resorts

The Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club

Location: Jackson, Wyoming

This Robert Trent-Jones Jr. redesigned course is consistently rated as the best in Wyoming. It should go without saying, every hole offers a somewhat distracting Teton view.

The Golf Weekender - Starting at $196 per person, this package includes two nights lodging at the Snake River Lodge & Spa, two rounds of golf at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club, airport transfers from Jackson aiport and breakfast for two each day.

Mission Hills Country Club

Location: Rancho Mirage, California

Pete Dye tests all players with this target-golf course design. Plateaued, rolling fairways and elevated, undulating greens are laid out between deep bunkers and water.

Amazing Midweek Golf Package - from $125 per person, enjoy two nights in a Deluxe Room and two rounds of golf each day at the Mission Hills Country Club.

Beaver Creek Golf Course

Location: Beaver Creek, Colorado

The Beaver Creek Golf Course is a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. designed 6,400-yard championship golf course set in the magnificent Beaver Creek Valley surrounded by the White River National Forest.

-- Shane Sharp contributed to this report.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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Dates: January 23, 2018 - October 7, 2018
Exclusive access to one of Colorado's top golf courses, designed by Greg Norman, with rates starting at $209 per night.
Price range: $209