STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO -- On the outskirts of this world-famous ski town there's a unique golf course that's a shrine in progress to haybalers everywhere.
It's called Haymaker and to this day as you play the 636-yard, par-5 sixth hole, known as "Cattle Drive", you are in eyeball range of a working hayfield. If you play in late summer, the rolled stacks of hay are right there, just yards away from the fairway.
Haymaker's head golf professional, Hank Franks, says one look at this sprawling, rolling acreage and you can see that traditionalist Keith Foster brought a touch of Scotland to this Yampa Valley floor, just minutes from the ski slopes of Steamboat Springs. It's a Scottish-links style par-72 golf course that measures 7,308 yards from the championship tees.
Foster designed this fair test, integrating the agrarian background of this ranching community. Foster, designer of the award-winning Quarry Golf Course in San Antonio and Buffalo Run in Commerce City, completed a design that includes deep bunkers, rock walls, wetlands and native-grass rough. The 360-degree views of the surrounding Flat Tops Wilderness and Rabbit Ears Pass are unobstructed. There's nary a shade-tree on the property.
"It's not hard to see Foster's love of the old traditional golf courses of Scotland and Ireland," said Franks. "People really like our layout. We receive very few negative comments. Every once in a while someone might say the greens are too firm, but overall everyone is positive. We've been around four years now and the course has matured."
"Actually, this land was not only a hayfield, but an old rock quarry and a site for oil exploration," said Tim Fuhrer, an assistant pro.
Maybe the best thing about playing Haymaker is the fact there are zero houses surround it. "No doubt that's one reason people love the golf course," said Fuhrer. "With no houses you can really lose yourself out there."
The 233-acre, city-owned public golf course features four sets of tees playing from 5,059 to 6,728 yards one set of tees up from the championship length. Play from the tips and it can be brutal. But if you are a 12-handicap golfer wanting an ego boost, play from the back or middle tees, rap it down the middle and exit the course with a mid-70s smile. So it's user-friendly.
No. 8, named "Ring The Bell" could be your favorite hole. It's only 347 yards, but it is all risk/reward. The hole makes a big curve right over a marshy area and it's just deciding how much you want to cut off. Big hitters will go for the green. Aiming poles are located in the fairway and markers on the tees will tell you the distances to the poles.
Practice Fac.: A-
Clubhouse/Pro Shop: B
Pace of Play: A-
Overall Rating: A-