If there is any hope of resolving the long-running conflict between conservationists and golf course builders, Roaring Fork is it. The developers worked with local officials to reroute the river to its natural channel and installed "bio-islands" of insect-enticing plants throughout the property to reduce the amount of pesticides needed. The club itself is organized around a "camp" motif that prohibits the use of automobiles, and it forsakes conventional signage in favor of the cairns that backpackers have traditionally used to mark hiking trails.
I ended the round in a way I'd never ended a day of golf before--by attending a campfire dinner. It was held by the banks of the river, and the conversation wasn't about golf but fly-fishing. I learned from my dinner companions that the pro shops here at Roaring Fork, and at River Valley Ranch and Aspen Glen, stock ample supplies of flies and rods alongside their racks of Titleists and Big Bertha Hawk Eyes. Fishing is not only permitted but encouraged on the lakes, streams and rivers of all three courses. Here was a vision of the ultimate way to find peace on a golf course.
I must confess that the idea of going fishing has never much appealed to me. Even so, I gained a newfound appreciation for the contemplative joys of the sport as I heard about casting callibaetis mayflies, woolly buggers and nymphs in translucent water holes full of rainbow trout. By the end of the evening, I concluded that fly-fishing on the courses of the Colorado ski country was an option worth having in case my golf game goes up in smoke. You might not snag a two-pound rainbow, but you don't lose any golf balls while casting, and you don't make any triple bogeys either.