Mountain golfing is its own beast and blessing.
Golfers love the altitude difference, the geographically varied courses, the scenery and the unique challenge. That's how we do golf in Colorado, Rocky Mountain style.
While our mountains are famous for their ski slopes, hiking and camping, they're also home to some of the most beautiful and exciting alpine golf courses in the world.
Golf Digest has ranked its top 20 golf courses in Colorado.
On the list: a well-known favorite in Vail Valley, the Club at Cordillera. Not on the list: a more recently revamped course about 30 minutes away in Eagle called Frost Creek. That one is more of a hidden gem but equally as worthy, for different reasons.
Here are two of our favorite golf resorts in the valley —Cordillera, with its strong reputation, and the private course at Frost Creek, both totally worth adding to your must-putt list.
One thing that makes Cordillera so appealing is its location. It's a short drive from Beaver Creek and the smaller town of Edwards, but it's located up the mountain behind gates, so it feels exclusive and remote.
Cordillera's courses were designed by some of the biggest names in the scene: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio and Hale Irwin. The club boasts three different courses, Valley, Mountain and Summit, each with its own unique challenges.
The property itself makes this course really stand out.
The luxurious Cordillera spa and lodge stands proudly on the mountaintop with some of the best views in the state, overlooking the sweeping valley and Sawatch Range.
Take in the view from the warm outdoor pool, the nearby hot tub or through the windowed wall of the indoor pool house, which connects with the award-winning spa.
In fact, this spa has been voted among the top 10 spas in North America — something you'll be grateful for after a long day of hitting balls on the course. Wake up to the jaw-dropping view from your room, with oversized windows and a comfortable balcony.
Fuel up at one of the two restaurants on site and see why the Cordillera was ranked the best resort in the state for food and service, by Conde' Nast's Reader Poll — Gold List. Everything at Cordillera is grand, yet intimate, with only 56 rooms. It's the perfect home base for an alpine golf getaway.
About 30 minutes past Edwards you will come to the quaint mountain town of Eagle. This is home to one of the lesser-known golf gems — one that you will surely hear more about in years to come.
Frost Creek is a private course located deep outside of town, on a dramatic and sprawling 1,100 acres of Colorado perfection. In recent years, the property went under new ownership that completely redeveloped its goals and atmosphere and kicked membership into high growth.
First and foremost, the private golf course — one of Tom Weiskopf's "marquis courses" — features eight different lakes and fun, playable holes across 285 acres.
Beyond that, the impressive, 40,000-square-foot clubhouse brings members together for social dinners and drinks, and it offers a spa and fitness area and tons of outdoor activities, such as fly fishing, swimming and bike-riding.
For an exciting, outdoor, oh-so-Colorado adventure, take out the electronic "fat bikes" (on extra wide tires, so you can ride them on all terrain, including ice and snow). In the winter when the course is closed, you can explore it from a different perspective. Take the bikes to the frozen pond, where you can go ice-skating, or head over to the sledding hill — even at night.
The member-only cabins round out the perfect excursion and would stand out even without the golf course. The four-star, private cabins are offered at a seriously discounted rate for members, and they have everything you need to feel at home in the hills.
Finish your day by the crackling fireplace. Make dinner in the full kitchen or grill on the patio, with views that seem to go on for eternity. You will feel like you are the only people in the world when you stay here. The good news is Frost Creek has even built more cabins so you can ask about joining the club yourself. If there are any openings in membership, don't expect them to last long. This is the kind of place you are lucky to know about and even luckier to experience.