Norman & Fazio Courses Wow Golfers at Red Sky Ranch
by Kim D. McHugh
(Photos courtesy Red Sky Golf Club/Vail Resorts)
Lennon and McCartney. Spielberg and Lucas. Norman and Fazio. When collaborators are in the groove great things happen. Just look at Red Sky Golf Club. Spread out over nearly 800 acres of former ranchland in Wolcott, Colorado, the Norman and Fazio courses were deftly integrated into the landscape. Measuring 7,113 yards from the tips, Tom Fazio’s layout opened in 2002. Greg Norman’s course, which debuted in 2003, plays 7,580 yards, and both par 72 courses continue to garner praise from golf and travel magazines. The Norman and Fazio layouts were ranked the #1 and #2 Golf Courses in Colorado by Zagat Golf, Golf Digest ranked them in The Top 25 Of The Best Resorts In North America and they made Golfweek’s “American Best” list. \
Fazio’s design, which included the relocation and re-planting of more than 23,000 native plants, invites players to navigate through dense groves of aspen and sage covered hills, pausing now and again to admire views of Vail Mountain’s Back Bowls. The par-5 sixth and the par-3 10th are notable holes with six stretching 606 yards and the 10th playing 231 yards from the tips. Wide fairways and really large greens make for a more forgiving layout than Norman’s. With two holes playing 446- and 582-yards respectively, and the par-3 7th at 237 yards, the front nine is a test.
“Hole 17 plays 168 yards from the blacks, requiring a precise tee shot to a green surrounded by bunkers short left and back right,” said Jeff Hanson, PGA Director of Golf. “Standing on the tee the water hazard and undulating green go unnoticed as one admires Vail’s back bowls. Bring your short game magic or risk a bogey.”
Knots of scrub oak, deep gulches and craggy rock outcroppings combine with meadows of wildflowers to deliver a memorable golf experience on Norman’s layout. On the front nine, three holes—# 4, #8 and #9—play 565-, 588- and 559-yards respectively. Designed with the par-5 12th playing 592-yards, the par-3 16th playing 283 yards and the finishing hole stretching 590 yards, the Shark’s back nine can leave teeth marks on any scorecard.
“The 565-yard Hole 4 provides the most picturesque, panoramic views of any mountain course in the country,” explained Hanson. “You must tee off from an elevated tee, avoiding being distracted by the vistas or intimidated by the ominous bunkers below. The second shot may tempt you to go for the green in two, but it must carry all the surrounding bunkers or you face a difficult up and down. The lay up is fairly simple, but golfers must avoid the out of bounds to the right and numerous bunkers left. The approach must be accurate as the green is narrow with many undulations. Staying below the pin is a must.”
Those looking to improve their game can visit The Red Sky Golf Academy, where students benefit from an indoor hitting bay with a Trackman Launch Monitor and state of the art video analysis. Larry Rinker, a 30-year PGA Tour veteran, is the Director of Instruction. Students choose from lessons ranging from one hour to three days; prices range from $200 for a one-hour private lesson to a two-day school costing $1,995 per adult.
Details: To mix things up, Red Sky Golf Club alternates play daily between the two semi-private courses, and play is reserved for club members and guests staying in Vail Resorts’ lodging properties, which include The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Lodge at Vail, The Austria Haus and the Ritz-Carlton Residences Vail. Select Vail Valley hotels such as The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, The Sebastian Vail and the Sonnenalp Hotel also have golf packages.
The “rack rate” green fees for a resort guest is $205 for 18 holes early May – June 4 and September 14 – October 4; the fee is $250 June 5 – September 13; cart included. Stay & Play rates start at $198 per person and special rates can save guests up to 40% on lodging. Resort guests enjoy access to a gorgeous clubhouse at the Fazio course. For more information, call 888-500-5170 or visit www.redskygolfclub.com.