Cañon City, Colorado (Public)
Roaming through a lunar landscape of juniper, piñon and white-shale hogbacks are eighteen holes Jim Engh has dared you to come and find. Fans of Engh’s work will note many of his trademark elements here, among them high-stakes green complexes and sharply angled doglegs. But nary a traditional bunker can be seen, just noses, hollows and humps. Not that the course is hazard-free: Errant shots will force you to play from the rugged native terrain that borders the fairways and greens. As it meanders along hillsides and through small canyons, Four Mile Ranch offers long views of historic Cañon City and the distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains. When he isn’t doling out panoramic views, Engh serves up blind shots or partially obscured sight lines. The par-five second tempts golfers to shoot over a blind ridge for a chance to hit the green in two or to play well left for an open third shot. Borrowing from Lahinch, an Irish course he reveres, Engh has also included a Dell hole, the short par-three fourteenth. Fire a short iron over the directional pole and enjoy the suspense of hurrying to find out how you fared. These greens may be hard to find at times, but the fun of playing on them is worth the effort. High ridges and deep swales invite creative chips, pitches and putts using the slopes and backstops to work the ball to difficult pins.