The Beaver Creek Golf Club, ten miles west of Vail, presented unusual design challenges requiring creative solutions. Not only was the site narrow-threading through a steep, creek-lined valley at the base of 11,000-ft peaks in the Gore Range-but Robert Trent Jones II had to contend with elevation changes of more than 500 feet. And at an altitude of 8,100 feet, where golf balls fly much farther than at sea level, our designers had to figure fair and reasonable distances, just as golfers must make important choices when selecting clubs.
In some cases, a site's natural attributes are so powerful that they essentially dictate the course's overall character. At Beaver Creek we listened to the land. Ultimately, we built the 6,646-yard course straight down and then right back up the mountain, through stands of pine and aspen that reaffirm the alpine character of the location. This intricate layout makes the best of gorgeous but extremely difficult terrain. Water-mostly in the form of a fast-flowing mountain stream-comes into play on twelve holes.
The drama of this par-70 course reveals itself immediately. The first hole tumbles 546 yards downhill. Number ten, a 223-yard par three, is a fine example of the design principles we employed at Beaver Creek. If you aim at the green, slopes will kick your shot down toward a bunker. As on many of these holes, aim in such a way as to allow the land to move your ball toward the desired target. The fifteenth green, framed by weathered old ranch buildings, lends a smoky western flavor to this golf feast.