Nestled near the infamous Vail and Beaver Creek Resort regions in the Rocky Mountains, Red Sky Ranch offers two scenic mountain courses, Norman and Fazio, ranked #1 and #3 in Colorado by Golf Magazine. As an upscale semi-private club, they limit access to members and guests of thirty-five Vail and Beaver Creek properties. Course, range and clubhouse access alternates between public guests and members each day.
First-class service and conditioning are a hallmark of Red Sky Ranch. They treat visitors like members. The exquisite playing conditions impressed me while the mountain scenery marveled me.
Norman course opened in 2003. It longer and more challenging than its older sibling, the Fazio course. I liked the 7-10% distance boost I got by playing above 7000 feet altitude.
From the public clubhouse it’s a long ride to the first tee at the Norman course. As you hustle up the ridge, it’s worth a stop to admire the panoramic views. The Fazio course laid out below with the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
They design most holes in the flat sites at the base of the valley. The Norman course routes through scenic hillsides and gorgeous Aspen trees with impressive scenery. Given the higher elevations with the ridge, the views are even more spectacular than the Fazio course. It’s also more compacted than Fazio with fewer homes. Elevation change from 14th tee at the top of the ridge to the 3rd green is four hundred feet. Norman’s designed required major earth-moving and reconstruction of the landscape. They preserved much of the local existing vegetation by removing it and replanting it after the hole layouts. Multiple rock outcroppings add to the beauty and challenge.
As is classic Norman style, you’ll find large fairways, large par 3 greens but postage stamp par 5 greens. The frequent forced carries are easy. But large fairways don’t always translate to easy landing areas as they are often sloping. Putting yourself in the right spot is important for the approach. What looks like a good tee shot can be in a bad location or penalized.
Norman created gigantic bunkering. A two hundred-yard bunker frames the left side of the seventeenth fairway. He makes it tough to run the ball on the green with bunkering that narrows access or ends fairways with barrancas other obstacles. False green fronts (and backs) are common. It’s an approach shot course.
Conditioning is perfect. Greens are generous and receptive to good shots. They are true, very fast, with breaks difficult to see. They have wide fringes, so balls don’t run into deep rough giving ample opportunities for recovery shots.
The Norman Course at Red Sky Ranch is tough and scenic. Play the Fazio course for fun and the Norman course for the challenge.
Find High resolution photos at: www.quintessentialgolf.com/ destinations/red-sky-ranch-norman/
If You Go:
Yardage: Five sets of tees span from 4922 yards to 7480 yards (74.6/147).
Location – Wolcott, Colorado. Twenty miles west Vail and Beaver Creek. Two miles north of Interstate 70. One hundred and forty miles west of the Denver International Airport.
Practice Area – Large bi-directional grass practice range with target greens and bunkers near the public guest clubhouse. No short game area.
Lodging – Playing privileges for guests of thirty-five partner properties.
Fees: Up to $350 depending on packages. Significant discount with Stay and Play packages.
Quintessential Golf (https://www.quintessentialgolf.com)
A source of golf travel inspiration, Quintessential Golf online magazine spotlights the most spectacular, enduring and scenic courses, resorts and golf adventures. Written from a player’s point-of-view, articles include magnificent high-resolution course images. Brought to you by Chuck Fox, single-digit golfer, writer and photographer based in Danville, California, he is fulfilling his passion and dream to play, photograph and share the romance and beauty of golf throughout North America.
By Chuck Fox, Owner, Quintessential Golf, Resident since 2012