Colorado is a very unique place, and the same goes for its style of spring/summer golf. Whether you’re from here or just planning to visit, have played a Colorado course before or not, let this be your guide to handle it like a pro. From our unpredictable weather to altitude sickness and wildlife, here are five things to know about spring/summer golf in Colorado:
Really, this entire post could be about Colorado weather. Most Colorado courses are charging peak season prices come May, but don’t be fooled — snow, sleet, frost delays and other cold weather conditions linger in parts of the state well after the start of spring.
The state tourism office will go blue in the face boasting about our “300+ days of sunshine,” which is something we’re proud of, but mind that they’re not saying “300+ day full of sunshine” — it’s what happens in between the rays they’re not telling you. Colorado weather changes at the drop of a dime. Sunny skies and a cool breeze can be replaced by torrential rain, hail, and threatening lightning storms. The most extreme weather conditions will be found in mountain courses and those across the eastern plains, but given the diversity of the state’s landscapes you never really know what you’re going to get.
How to deal with it
Not that it’s any fault of their own, but Colorado meteorologists are notoriously awful, and consistently wrong — you’ll get a more useful forecast with your phone’s weather app. That said, plan on that being wrong too. All we can say is bring layers and protective gear in your bag. If there’s even a chance of inclement weather, expect it to come to fruition. Give it 15 minutes and it’ll change again.
Let’s get the “Colorado is high” jokes out of the way early… OK, now we can be serious.
The biggest perk to playing at altitude is the increased ball flight. There is no better confidence builder. We here at CGB aren’t scientists, and therefore can’t give a definitive measurement to the increase of yards, or a very accurate comparison to lower-lying regions, but trust us, it is noticeable. Enjoy it.
That perk comes at a price, and some can be pretty serious, especially for visitors to the state. Altitude sickness is the most dangerous possibility and can really, really put a damper on your golf plans. Over-exertion is a common cause for altitude sickness. You may feel the urge to keep up with the locals, but keep it slow. Seriously, missing your tee time because you’re hooked up to an iv is not a memory you want to make.
How to deal with it
First, and especially for newcomers, let yourself get acclimated to the altitude — depending on age, medical, and other personal factors this may take a couple days, but still very important. And pay attention to how you’re feeling; headaches, dehydration, lightheadedness and shortness of breath are all indicators that you may be coming down with altitude sickness. Stay hydrated and pace yourself — don’t walk 18 if you’re not up to it, and pack plenty of water in the beer cooler.
Chase the sun, it’s what golfers do. And you’re a lot closer to it in Colorado, literally. This also means you’re more exposed to not-so-great aspects of it too. Extreme sunburns — and I do mean extreme — are a very real possibility for lighter-skinned swingers, but really anyone can go from working on their golf tan to singeing their nerve endings within minutes on any Colorado course.
What to do about it
Wear sunscreen, a lot of it. Chances are you’ll still have a killer golf tan to show for it by the time you sign your card.
Pro tip for twilight golfers
There’s nothing like a twilight round, and there’s really nothing like a twilight round in Colorado — you won’t find a more impressive backdrop than the sun setting on the Rocky Mountains — but there is a caveat. Said mountains cut a considerable amount of sunlight from the day. You may not have as much time as you think to squeeze in that late day round.
Colorado is also known for our wildlife, and the animals are no stranger to area courses. Elk, deer, moose, birds of all kinds, even bears enjoy the state’s beautiful courses regularly. Depending on which part of the state you’re in, you may or may not have to worry about certain kinds of animals — I say “worry” because rattlesnakes, mountain lions, and other less-cuddly creatures are also within the realm of possibility.
What to do about it
Don’t be stupid is step one through five. As the saying goes, “they’ll probably see you before you see them,” and will most likely move along happily without incident. But in the case of a run-in, our money’s on Mother Nature, avoiding them is your job. Resist the urge to take a selfie, and please, don’t feed the animals.
5. Mountain course disclosure
You can pretty much throw everything you’ve just read out the window if you’re planning a round at a mountain course. Peak season in mountain towns begins when Mother Nature says it does and no sooner — some areas host skiers and snowboarders into the very late spring. Mountain course conditions can also be much more extreme, and the weather much more unpredictable. Do what you can to plan accordingly. Mind that all of this isn’t to say that some of Colorado’s mountain courses shouldn’t be on your destinations list, some of them definitely should be.
So welcome to golf in Colorado where we enjoy 300+ days of sunshine and unpredictable weather, wildlife encounters, and literally breathtaking courses. Whether you’re from here or just visiting, enjoy the novelty of golf in the Centennial State.