Colorado Golf News
Raccoon Creek Golf Course, a Colorado Original
By Rhett McEmma
DIVOT Contributing Writer
It’s not a secret Denver, its metroplex, and even its outskirts, have an abundance of really nice public golf courses. It would be silly to try and rank them all in an objective way. Will your lineup be based on beauty, amenities, convenience, playability? Regardless of the criteria, Raccoon Creek Golf Course, 7301 West Bowles Avenue, south of Denver, in Littleton, deserves a spot on the list.
Raccoon Creek Golf Course is a privately owned public course which even 36 years after its opening is still thought by some to be a country club. In some ways the confusion is understandable. As soon as you turn off of Bowles Avenue onto the property, you’re heading down a tree lined path where suddenly you’ve lost sight of the suburban setting you'd just been navigating and now you’ve been transported onto a 19th century Colorado farm, or ranch, with multiple small outbuildings, a granary, oh look there’s a barn, and ranch hands and...wait, those aren’t ranch hands, those are golfers?
The golf course, designed in 1982 by acclaimed golf architect, Dick Phelps was built on land with a Colorado history dating back to 1878 when the state’s eventual 3rd Governor, James B. Grant, purchased the property to use as a gun and sporting club. Since then the property has been farmed and ranched, there was even a time the land was used to stable race horses, including its most famous guest, Granville, the 1936 horse of the year and grandson of the legendary, Man Of War. Phelps task was to embrace this beautiful, pastoral, piece of property that possessed gorgeous scenic views and was already home to multiple ponds, lakes, trees, and the meandering, Coon Creek, and to use all of those tools to create a test of golf usable for all levels of golfer, but still noticeably more challenging than most public courses. Success!
Because of the inherent beauty of its surroundings Raccoon Creek has long been a favorite site for weddings, parties, and special events. Committed to upgrades to all of the facilities over the past 5 years, Raccoon Creek has taken another step towards becoming a truly top notch choice for all kinds of private, company, and corporate, outings. The revamping of the The Barn has given General Manager, Don Allen, and all of his awesome staff at Raccoon Creek, an ability to offer a really unique option to those in need of event accommodations, which can be held both inside and out, or a combination thereof. Raccoon Creek is now a premier spot for weddings, their receptions, and all other such important gatherings.
In addition to The Barn, Raccoon Creek’s new clubhouse which opened last year, offers The Farmhouse, an intimate bar and restaurant, which in reality can accommodate not just the 19th hole crowd, but gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and enough covered patio for a few hundred more. This gives Raccoon Creek the ability to provide top notch accommodations and lend their expert experience to tournaments of all levels, as well as parties, meetings, classes, etc. Virtual guided tours, along with all kinds of pertinent information about these fabulous facilities is available at TheBarn@RaccoonCreek.com
As for the golf course, it’s a tough par 72 track that plays 7007 yards from the tips (the black tees). It’s just under 6500 yards from the blues, and just shy of 6000 yards from the whites. The red tees are 5122 yards. A nice feature certain to cause problems with those silly golf egos are ‘Tee Recommendations’ on the score card. Those who know a lot better than us ask the men whose handicaps are scratch up to a 5 to play the black tees, 7-12 the blues, 13 and over the white tees. Ladies recommendations are for golfers who play scratch up to a 10 handicap to play the whites, 11 and over the reds. These are merely recommended, and who among us doesn’t know more than a couple of golfers whose egos wouldn’t allow them to follow these sensible suggestions? But with Raccoon Creek, unless you have a lot of course knowledge you might want to pay attention to the guide. Also very helpful are the top notch GPS systems on all of the golf carts. They provide all kinds of accurate, valuable information on very easy to read screens. You can really get spoiled by these quiet little caddies.
There will certainly be an abundance of water and sand hazards throughout your journey around Raccoon Creek, but the course always offers bail out opportunities where they are needed. However to really attack you’ve got to know the smaller, harder to reach, and harder to hit areas of the fairways. The places that give you the best, sometimes only chance to go at the pin from. The greens have lots of fun undulation making them tough to get it close, and often very tough to stay below the hole. They can be tricky to read. All that being said it is a very fair course. You will be rewarded for good shots, and likely be punished for bad ones.
Sometimes though when you’re out there on Raccoon Creek one of the toughest things you have to fight is paying attention to your game. It’s just one of those places where at times you can be distracted by the surroundings. Besides the presence of history with all the old buildings scattered throughout the property, the beauty of the layout working its way around the lakes and back and forth across the creek there are also the vistas. Often throughout the round you’ll find yourself staring off in multiple directions, amazed at how the town shrunk, almost disappeared. It’s like your just relaxing in a beautiful pasture surrounded by mountains. Raccoon Creek is definitely one of those few courses where you can struggle to keep your game together the entire round and still have a really enjoyable time. Add a happy, helpful staff to this outstanding operation and it’s easy to see why things are so unique at Raccoon Creek.