One of Colorado’s most-lauded municipal courses, Pueblo’s Walking Stick Golf Course (4301 Walking Stick Blvd., walkingstickpueblo.com) should be on the must-play list for anyone visiting the area.
The course has made plenty of other “best” lists already, being named “Colorado’s best golf value,” and second “best in state,” by Golf Digest in 1993, and included in the magazine’s 1996 “America’s Top 75 Affordable Courses” list.
The par-72 course borders the CSU Pueblo campus — serving as the home course for the college — with sweeping views of the front range and the southern face of Pikes Peak. The course landscape screams southwestern Colorado, with cacti, yucca plants and desert wildflowers dominating the native areas, and a stunning arroyo housing the high desert wildlife (lost balls beware).
Despite some intimidating looks from the tee box, Walking Stick is very inviting. Landing areas are fairly wide, and reachable for players of any length, and the rough is very playable — even the native hazards yield playable lies in most cases, but beware of snakes! Aside from and handful of tee-to-green challenges, Walking Stick can facilitate low scores, but don’t sleep on this course.
Starting with a wide, straight and short par 4 at no. 1, the layout gets you thinking low scores, especially long hitters, but Walking Stick’s real challenge is its greens. Though fairly large, tiered greens with multiple breaks, false fronts and slopes are a factor here, and the pin placements don’t make things any easier. While the fairways offer the chance to get aggressive on your approach, strategically placed bunkers and fairway undulations also come into play.
One of most challenging holes on the course is the 544-yard par 5 at no.4. The long, arching dogleg left hugs the gorgeous arroyo and keeps the green — and a sneaky pot bunker — from view until your second or third shot. Playing the right side is a must here, and your only chance of reaching the green in two. If you’re left from the tee, a layup is all but guaranteed.
According to the course guidebook, we should note, no.7 is the most difficult hole at Walking Stick. The 462-yard par 4 begins with an intimidating tee shot over an expanse of native area. Again, favoring the right side in your approach will yield the best results, as a miss right will keep you out of a greenside bunker on the left.
No.12 has to be considered one of Walking Stick’s signature holes. The 160-yard par 3 is intimidating from the tee, if you can even see the green. It may as well be an island green, playing in the middle of the arroyo with a small bailout area front left of the green. Too short, left, right or long means trouble from the tee, but if you’re lucky with your miss you may find a play from below the green, or in the right greenside bunker.
While finishing the back 9 it’ll be evident Walking Stick deserves all the credit it’s given as a one of the state’s best municipal courses. From tee to green, the layout is playable for players at all levels yet challenging enough to keep low handicappers on their game. The practice facilities include a full driving range, chipping and putting greens, though space can be limited at times just like any other muni — all the more reason to kill some time at the full restaurant and bar.
We’ll be keeping Walking Stick near the top of our best municipal courses list.