Being a kid from the Midwest, I was really really excited when I moved out to Denver and saw some of the scenery right in the midst of the city. I started seeing photos of a couple of golf courses that had phenomenal features and were as unique as anything I'd seen on TV. A lot of people have seen the magnificent shots of Arrowhead, down south of the city with its Red Rocks and its stunning signature hole. Also interesting, if not a bit more subtle, is Fossil Trace in Golden, Colorado.
Nestled in the valley heading towards downtown Golden and Clear Creek, Fossil Trace is right up against the foothills. The geologic features are such that you get some dramatic rock outcroppings, particularly on the West edge of the course. Overall, there are a lot of good holes on the course, although there is a bit of a down-stretch on the last half of the front-nine. The back-nine is stronger, and features the signature hole, three interesting Par-3's, a fun #10 with a risk-reward factor, and a super-strong finishing Par-5, which is reachable in two, but again, a lot of risk-reward.
There's three things that I think are worth mentioning about this course:
1. It is not easy. Standing on the first tee, you may have one of the more challenging shots to begin a round with a blind dog-leg downhill. It continues to challenge. You'll find a lot of trouble of you don't hit the ball where you want to - and there are many instances of water coming into play. Bunker complexes around the greens are steep (actually, pretty tough to just get in and out of) and the sand is HEAVY.
2. On the note of green complexes... These are some TRICKY greens. Lots of multi-tiered greens, and some hole-locations that you will literally curse when you see. You better be on it if you really want to score. Oddly though, there are a few spots where greens are incredibly accommodating - one Par-3 on the back-nine allows for some pretty cool backstop shots if the pin is back.
3. If the wind is blowing, expect it to have a DRAMITIC impact on you game, particularly when you are playing into the wind. On one Par-5 I hit Driver, 3-Wood, 3-Wood and still had some work left. If you've got a wind coming at you on the #10 tee, don't even fool around with the lake on the right, cuz the wind is gonna take it, son. You'll also notice that you'll be getting a cross-wind for most of the back-nine.
This is a cool track, but it's not easy. If you're a hack-and-slash looking for a nice course to play, go to Arrowhead. This course will test you. The conditioning is good, and the scenery is beautiful - it definitely has a Golden/Western feel with Table Mountain, the rocky-outcroppings, and the old excavation machinery left around the course. If you are not all over it, don't get too uptight about scoring, because you'll probably be disappointed. But, there are a lot of good shots to hit here. It helps to know your way around.
BTW - Just a side-note gripe, but the ads on the cart-GPS are obnoxious.
This is a great course! I wouldn't bring a high handicapper here, they would just be frustrated. Love the way the golf course flows and the variety of teeing options. Plenty of hazards to avoid but not so many that it's becomes obnoxious.
The outside area of the bar gives a beautiful view of one of the signature holes and the food is the restaurant is well above average. We even go over from time to time just to eat lunch.
I like that the let you hit off the grass on the driving range. The staff is extremely helpful. In fact, I was given a gift card to FTGC and lost it. I found it like 3 years later and they still honored it.
This is definitely one of the best courses in the Denver-metro area. #1 is a wonderful hole. It's not hard to understand why it's gotten the recognition that it has. Nothing else about the outward half really stands out, but it's damn good golf. The Back 9 is a lot of fun though. Every hole coming in really makes you think, and #12 is just awesome. Definitely one of my favorite holes I've ever played. The entire course is in good shape and just really enjoyable to play. The staff was moderately friendly. I think as someone mentioned earlier they won't go out of your way. Like there's no bag drop or any cart attendant at all really. Starter was nice, pro shop guys were nice, marshals were nice. Not terrible, but it's not Ridge at Castle Pines standard. Price is probably fair for as good of an experience as you get. And while I said the course is in good shape, I arrive at "good" from "great" tee boxes and fairways, with OK greens. They were a little bouncy and not always perfectly smooth. Slightly better greens and a little bit more staff interaction and I'd go 5 stars.
OK, I am going to go out on a limb here and buck every national rating I have seen and putting this course on every single Top 100 List in the nation seems just a little generous. Now don't get me wrong. This is a first class facility. The staff are incredible and do a great job. However, for a high end course and having no Bag Drop attendants or anyone greeting you in the parking lot is NOT in line with High End top rated courses across the country (and we were playing on a Saturday at prime time). In the pro shop, service was great, the starter was phenomenal.
The layout is just OK. I am saying that as you really have to pick the correct tee's to give you a little bit. I was playing with a mixed group of high , mid and a couple low handicappers. We played from the white tee's and if you are an average level golfer you are going to have to lay back on many of the holes and not hit driver. Should have backed up at least one set, maybe two. Some of the holes do have the quirkiness of the terrain and keeping it natural that cause some strange layups and approaches.
Condition was actually very good. Tee Boxes were in very good shape, fairways were very nice and in good shape. Interesting design, majority of the greens are actually sitting in little valley's with very deep drop off's. Actually makes it a difficult walk down to the greens. If you have weak legs, bad knee's , ankles , etc. you definitely DO NOT want to play this course.
All in all it is a very good golf course. My average rating is that given the comparison to other top 100 courses I have played, this one is really not up to those and my personal opinion is I enjoyed myself, but wouldn't rush here and if I had come from California (like I did) just to play it, I would be a little disappointed.
Fossil Trace Golf Course definitely lives up to all hype. The course is nestled in the Rocky Mountains with incredible views from just about every hole. Fossil Trace is in impeccable condition. With up to seven tee positions ranging from 4700 yards (Gold) to 6800 yards (Black) Fossil Trace GC can be as much of a challenge as you need.
The course is less than forgiving if you are not striking the ball well. Every shot from tee to green brought on its own challenge. Fossil Trace is one of those courses that does not seem to give an inch. If you decide to play safe off the tee it will only lead to a very very difficult shot into the green.
I am not one of those golfers that care too much about tracking my handicap. So when I started my round from the White Tees I thought okay "I got this" so unwisely I moved back to the Blue Tees. Who knew that 30 - 50 yards difference could make such an incredible difference on just about each and every hole!!! Fossil Trace is an incredible golf course with incredible views. You should definitely give it a try if you are in the Denver Colorado area.