For the end of the year, I am giving golf travelers a very special Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza present, not just another hidden gem, but one of my all time favorites.
Maybe because his best work has been very private courses (The Sanctuary, Black Rock), Jim Engh remains a mystery to most golf fans. This is a shame because he is arguably the most creative designer in golf today, and every course of his I’ve played has been at least quite good, more often excellent. A native Coloradan, Engh has done much work in his home state, including the interesting municipal Fossil Trace in Golden and the much better redo of the formerly bland Snowmass Club near Aspen. But the best public Engh course you can play, without a doubt, is the stunning Golf Club at Redlands Mesa, near Grand Junction in Western Colorado.
The course is carved out of a fantastic landscape of buttes and mesas and valleys straight out of a John Ford western. Of course, as you might guess from the name, a whole lot of this rock is red. But more than mere scenery, it is the routing that carries the day, with spectacular risk reward decisions, corners to be cut, and extreme elevation changes.
I had heard great things from architecture buffs and long wanted to play Redlands Mesa, which I finally got to do last summer. On the first hole, a confusing layup and go around the corner design lined with condos, I thought “what the hell is this?” Later I would compare this to the very similar opener at the Pebble Beach Golf Links: a first hole so disconnected from the rest of the course that it should not exist. So when you play it, don’t lose faith in me on one, because from two to eighteen is a joyride, and a refreshingly affordable one, that you will be thanking me for a long time.