Course of the month: Four Mile Ranch Golf Club
Cañon City, Colorado (public).
If any golf course could help Cañon City beat its prison-town rep, it’s this one. Setting up shop in an Arkansas River Valley town where convicts have been detained since before Colorado earned statehood, Jim Engh put his unfettered design style to work. The sight he was given lies within a montane microclimate, a temperate region of alpine terrain, dunes and high desert, all in the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. “There’s so much going on visually,” says Engh, “bunkers would be a distraction.” So he designed the course without a single one, instead incorporating the many hogbacks, or mini-mesas of soft shale spalls, that punctuate the land. Hitting off them won’t damage your clubs, but missing the fairways will run up your score. Even straight drives can pose challenges: The par-four thirteenth has more humps than a herd of camels.
Journey at Pechanga, Temecula (resort).
This inland layout an hour north of San Diego starts with a steady mountainside climb through oak groves toward the sixth tee, six hundred feet above the floor of the Temecula Valley. The architects strung holes through the foothills to emphasize the wild terrain. Free-span bridges hang over arroyos and canyons, and many of the holes on the second nine cross dry washes of the Pechanga River.
Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest.