Golfing in the Grand Valley: Gorgeous Courses

 The writer’s view from the 17th Hole’s upper tee box at Redlands Mesa golf course. The course has been rated No. 1 in Colorado by both Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines. / Photos by Cat Mayer

The writer’s view from the 17th Hole’s upper tee box at Redlands Mesa golf course. The course has been rated No. 1 in Colorado by both Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines. / Photos by Cat Mayer

The uphill ride aboard the golf cart is steep enough, stopping alongside the lower tee box at the par-3 17th hole at the Club at Redlands Mesa. Now, it’s time for a hike. Grab your club, because you’re climbing a whole bunch of stone steps to the next level, and then even higher to the upper tee box.

Looking out over the city of Grand Junction, you’ve got views of the Colorado National Monument, the Book Cliffs and the Grand Mesa. Breathtaking. Oh yeah. Then there’s the huge green several hundred feet below and 218 yards away, set in an amphitheater of natural rock. Intimidating.

No matter your skill level, though, says Redlands Mesa pro shop manager Christian Cecil, you’ll wind up taking a shot from the most elevated tee box with a most eye-opening view.

“I watch them park at the whites, check it out, and then make the 5-to-10-minute hike up,’’ Cecil says during a tour of a course rated No. 1 in Colorado by both Golf Digest and Golfweek magazines. “I can guarantee you that anybody who’s never played this course, regardless of what tees they played from, will walk up this hill and try to hit onto that green.”

This is one of the many thrills of playing Redlands Mesa, a highly acclaimed, public-accessible Jim-Enghe-designed course. With elevated tees on most holes, there’s a unique view at every twist and turn.

For those who live in the Grand Valley, Redlands Mesa offers a nationally recognized course at affordable rates — ranging from $60-$80, including cart. For others here on business, vacation, or simply looking to play top-rated courses, this is a spot that demands bringing a camera along with your clubs.

“The way Jim Enghe has wrapped the whole thing to really flow with the natural rock formations, and the undulations and elevations throughout, sets it up to be a pleasing course and a great challenge,’’ says Cecil, who has been at Redlands since 2015.

In June, Golfweek listed Redlands Mesa the top modern golf course in Colorado for the second year in a row; Golf Digest rated it the state’s best public access course.

“It’s pretty wild, exploiting the unusual terrain offered by the Colorado Monument in a typically Jim Engh way by setting the golf in the most extreme part of the landform,’’ says Brad Klein, Golfweek’s longtime architecture editor, who now works for The Golf Channel.

The Grand Valley is chock-full of less daunting courses with similarly stunning views of the region’s unique topography. And there’s a course for everyone — including youngsters, beginners, and low-handicaps. Best of all, you get to play just about year-round.

Among other nearby courses are Tiara Rado, located at the base of the Colorado National Monument; the private Bookcliff Country Club; 27-hole Adobe Creek National; and Chipeta Golf Course, an 18-hole executive layout.

“Looking at something as beautiful as the Monument all day is just an amazing feeling,’’ says Justin Hume, a golf pro at Tiara Rado. “It’s quite challenging, but less challenging than Redlands. It’s lots of fun, and we have a lot of beginners out here, too. And in the fall, when the weather’s cooler, the place is quite busy.”

 Redlands Mesa Golf Course with views of Colorado National Monument to the west.

Redlands Mesa Golf Course with views of Colorado National Monument to the west.

Golf Courses in the Grand Valley

PUBLIC GOLF COURSES

The Club at Redlands Mesa

Top course, top challenge on the Western Slope. Players should be decent at target golf, because trouble waits if you aren’t careful. Plays 7,007 from the long tees. 2325 W. Ridges Blvd., Grand Junction. redlandsmesa.com/golf-course

Tiara Rado

One of the most scenic 18-hole layouts you’ll come across, at the base of the Colorado National Monument. A City of Grand Junction course, it’s 6,642 yards from the long tees, with some water to deal with, as well as homes around the course. Home course for Colorado Mesa University. 2057 S. Broadway, Grand Junction. golfgrandjunction.net/tiara-rado

Adobe Creek

Views of the Monument make this a memorable day over a course with mostly wide and straightaway fairways. 27-hole layout features three 9-hole courses, appropriately named Mesa, Monument, and Desert. 876 18½ Rd., Fruita. adobecreekgolf.com

Chipeta

Well-groomed, 18-hole executive course for all skill levels. Par-4’s range from 250-386 yards, par-3’s 114-235 yards. 222 29 Rd., Grand Junction. chipetagolf.com

Lincoln Park

Another City of Grand Junction course, this one is nine holes with six sets of tees. A few sand traps to be aware of, but a great walk (use sunscreen) for all skill levels, including beginners. 1240 Gunnison Ave., Grand Junction. golfgrandjunction.net/lincoln-park

PRIVATE GOLF COURSES

Bookcliff Country Club

Featuring lush fairways and heavy bluegrass rough, not to mention enough water hazards to keep you honest. 6,827 yards from the long tees. 2730 G Rd., Grand Junction. bookcliffcc.com

GOLF COURSES WITHIN AN HOUR’S DRIVE

Battlement Mesa

A challenging 18 holes awaits, with the back nine a high desert experience. Advice: do not hit left, the Colorado River lurks on several holes. 7,309 yards from the long tees. 3930 N. Battlement Parkway, Parachute. battlementmesagolf.com

Cedaredge

Water hazards dot front nine, narrow fairways on back nine. 6,449 yards from the back tees 500 SE Jay Ave., Cedaredge. cedaredgegolf.com

Devil’s Thumb

Nationally acclaimed course at the base of the Grand Mesa, featuring several “moon-like” holes. 7,176 yards from the long tees. 9900 Devil’s Thumb Rd., Delta. devilsthumbgolfcourse.net