There are two ways to look at Cañon City’s Four Mile Ranch. You could call the rolling greens gimmicky and say they reward bad shots — something akin to miniature golf course with ridiculous blind approaches and 30 degree dog legs — with little more to offer. Or you can enjoy this stunning southern Colorado course for what it actually is; an affordable offering of challenging yet forgiving holes tailor-made for average and intermediate golfers.
Four Mile Ranch, a short 40-miles south of Colorado Springs, boasts tremendous views of surrounding mountain ranges and wide open landscapes — and a handful of the area’s famous correctional facilities — coupled with a temperate, New Mexico-like climate that keeps the course open year round.
It should be noted that this is a pretty bare bones operation right now. There’s no restaurant or bar, no pool, no patio or anything other than the course, a practice range, and putting deck. The clubhouse is currently in the form of a mobile trailer parked next to a model home — the cartbarn is easily four or five times its size. Inside you’ll find basic amenities but you’ll want to plan ahead with food and drinks depending on your liking (you’ll want to check Four Mile’s outside food and drink policy). That won’t be the case for very much longer, though.
Peak season rates run $48 and $25 w/cart for 18 and 9, respectively, during the week, $58 and $30 on weekends; winter rates are $23 and $10 walking on weekdays, $30 and $10 on weekends. Check the course rates page for season dates and more pricing details. Word to the wise: Buy a bucket of range balls. Four Mile offers one of the most random smattering of range balls I’ve ever seen — everything from what could be the very first range balls ever made to like-new Titleist, Callaway, Nike, and more. With a careful eye and quick fingers you can pick a profitable bundle to stuff in your bag before your round. You may need them.
Now, let’s talk about this, ehem, interesting course layout.
You’ll get a good taste of what you’re in for from the first tee — a massive hill on the left side fairway looks down upon its depressed counterpart on the right, the green’s set upon another hill, its undulations visible from the tips.
And so the story is set for the remaining 17. If it’s not the steep hills or natural bunkers that tie you up — there are no sand bunkers at Four Mile — a number of tiered greens, blind approaches, and some of the sharpest dog legs around definitely will. Some may call that gimmicky, but I say these holes present unique challenges sure to keep you pleasantly surprised from start to finish. Every course is different, Four Mile just makes it a point to stand out.
This is not a beginners course, definitely catering to average and intermediate players. A handful of greens do prove friendlier than the rest — stick the right landing on the no. 3 par-3 and set yourself up with a four-feet birdie putt, and I doubt you’ll find yourself outside of six-feet on the no. 6 green. In short, yes, Four Mile can and will reward bad shots, but chances are you’re not on the Tour — I for one love any extra help on the green that I can get.
The aforementioned no. 6 par-5 has to be considered one of Four Mile’s signature holes. Your distance from the tee will determine your second shot approach to the natural hazard burm that completely masks the green from view. Long hitters can make an attempt to fly the burm, shorter players can layup for a sure-to-be money third shot to the green, marked by a black and white stake planted in the top of the burm. The funneled green, as promised, will do you all the favors, drawing your approach back towards the hole from any side of the green.
The par-3 you find at the 14th also follows the hidden, funneled green model. A solid stroke and a good line over the black and white aiming stake will surly get your hole-in-one hopes up. Too bad you won’t see it drop, if it does.
Another stand out hole is at the turn. A tighter fairway on the no. 10 par-4 leads you through an opening in a natural rock formation followed by a daunting uphill approach. Play to the left side of the fairway before the opening in the rock for the clearest line to the green, club up for the uphill approach.
The round ends on the expansive par-4 18th. The wide shot from the tee allows you to take a break from the status quo, that is until your final approach. The no. 18 cup is an elusive one, the flag protected heavily by natural hazards and another elevated, undulated green — just when you thought it was over.
On the surface, Four Mile Ranch is little more than a collection of unconventional greens set upon a layout that’s just as unconventional, with little more to offer. But play a round or two and you’ll recognize the unique, super fun challenge this course offers as an alternative to your regular weekend round.