The Takeaway: Grade C+
Designer: Jim Engh in 2003
Cost: $41.00 - $58.00 Click for current rates
Phone Number: (303) 277-8750
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Fossil Trace Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 3050 Illinois St, Golden, Colorado
Accolades: Voted 2nd "Best New Affordable Public Course" by Golf Digest in 2003. Rated 4 1/2 stars on Golf Digest's Places to Play publication.
What to Expect: Fossil Trace is an excellent public access facility named for the dinosaur fossils found in the area. Jim Engh spent several years on the project working through a variety of challenges but finally came up with a great course that is different from your typical muni. Be prepared to face a hole with an incinerator in the fairway, another with boulders in the fairway, and plenty of wild greens and bunkers to contend with.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 12th Hole – 585 Yard Par 5 – Jim Engh has a flare for the dramatic and Fossil Trace's signature hole shows why. How many golf holes have you played that feature three large boulders resting in the fairway? I've only played one and it is this exciting par five that also boasts a pair of deep "muscle" bunkers.
Best Par 3: Jim Engh loves to tuck greens behind water hazards and the 16th hole fits right in with that scheme. The green sits in a bowl which makes going long safe but shots hit short will either find the expansive bunker or will find the drink.
Best Par 4: This par four requires some strategy to succeed at scoring well. First, don't pull out your driver because missing the fairway is death. Second, know the pin placement to optimize your approach shot strategy. Third, a two-putt anywhere on this green is an accomplishment.
Best Par 5: This signature par five features OB right of the cart path so the logical play is up the safer left side. However, reaching the green in two from the left side means playing a draw through the boulders and over the muscle bunker fronting this shallow green. Good luck!
Birdie Time: While some might argue that the 96 yard 5th hole is a great birdie opportunity, I think more players will find a way to get under par on the 320 yard 2nd hole. The design allows for drives to chase up on the green for an eagle putt while the green sits 25 feet below the fairway in a bowl that is almost impossible to miss with a short approach shot. Knock it stiff and go one under.
Bogey Beware: Measuring 659 yards and featuring a skinny green, the 9th hole at Fossil Trace is a brute, a definite three-shot hole, and a common bogey. But the day I played it featured a howling head wind which took this long par five and made it near impossible to score well. I don't know if it is generally windy in Golden and if the wind generally runs in your face on this hole, but if it does then this is one of the most difficult holes in the state!