Redlands Mesa G.C., Grand Junction Colorado - How a great routing and interesting green designs improves and already great setting
THE GOLF CLUB at
Architect: Jim Engh
Par - 72
Excitement Level – 11/12
Difficulty – 6/12
Conditioning – Four and 1/2 stars
Cost - $75 Peak
Yearly memberships – No
Value – Five stars
Overall rating – Four and ½ stars
Monument 7007 71.7 135
Canyon 5838 67.2 115
Desert 4916 69.0 115
Holes play along the edge of striated red rock canyons. Tee boxes hang on narrow pinnacles. Green settings overlook the dramatic vistas of the majestic
But contrary to popular belief, architect Jim Engh did not win Best New Public Course in 2001 for
Engh, however, knew he had an opportunity to build a course that was a cut above, rife with multiple playing options and interesting design features as well as natural beauty. “Jim gets a lot of great sites, but he also does a fantastic job of routing them. He makes the most of every tee box and every green” says fellow architect and long-time buddy Tim Nugent.
There was so much more for Engh to balance at
Indeed, Engh built a career out of building great courses on difficult parcels of land with unusual limitations. At Fossil Trace he built a course in the face of twelve years of environmental opposition, scattered wetlands (which cannot be filled) and a small, irregularly shaped property. At Lakota Canyon Ranch and Sanctuary he built courses that defy gravity as holes cling to rugged mountainsides like moss on a rock. Similarly, Redlands Mesa’s site is so gorgeous, the old adage of “there were 100 golf holes here, we had to find the right eighteen” is true. Engh definitely crafted a course that plays like a classical symphony - a warm comforting beginning, soft peaks over the course of the round and a rousing crescendo to wind it up.
8 Downhill with green set at base of rocky alcove which wraps around the back.
9 Uphill with green set at base of clubhouse.
10 Downhill with green set in front of panoramic view of entire prairie extending for miles.
11 Green set at base of ridge which cuts along right side. Canyons open like picture window beyond the green.
12 Downhill to green set at a backdrop of rocky outcropping on left, open view of Canyonlands extending for miles to right.
13 Level shot to green at base of rocky hill.
14 Level shot to green set at base of rocky grotto surrounding two sides.
15 Slightly uphill to green fronting extensive view of prairie.
16 Uphill to green set at base of rugged rocky slope.
17 Level shot from severely elevated tee to green set in between two towering cone-shaped spires of boulders.
18 Uphill to green set at base of towering rocky hill with the clubhouse looming on top.
Like Mackenzie at
Monday we'll go over more holes in depth.
Redlands looks like Sedona Golf Resort in Arizona, but has much better golf holes, better bunkering (unique styling and more strategic placement) and a stronger routing which takes in all the buttes, mesas and craggy outcroppings. There isn’t a single hole that is weak, connective tissue or an after thought. If there is a drawback at all, the housing complex lines far too many fairways on the front, but the back nine is just you, the course and the red rock monuments.
Along with nearby Lakota Canyon Ranch (in
Because Engh had to move between 400,000 and 500,000 cubic yards of earth at both courses, they are not “minimalist” in the true sense of the word, (heck, he built the three giant cones of earth to make the 17th at Redlands alone) but he also didn’t crowd the picture with flashy or gaudy features like waterfalls, island greens or chocolate drop mounding. Happily, unlike Lakota, there are walking trails from the teebox to the fairway and the walks between tees are nowhere near as long or hilly. Lakota is pretty much unwalkable. The front at
Writer Ron Whitten, who also likes the course greatly, worries that some holes look too much like holes Engh used at other courses. For example, he says the par-5 13th looks too much like the 7th at Hawktree (Engh’s course in
Lastly, it’s a great price at $75 or less. It won’t cost you $40 in golf balls either. Look for
 Tom Doak laid out the green sites at Cypress Point in a similar fashion in The Anatomy of a Golf Course. It was an insightful look into just one of the factors that an architect has to consider and balance when designing a course.
Redlands General Manager and Director of Golf Eric Feely agrees that eight may be the best par-3 on a course-full of excellent one-shotters. “Club selection is very difficult. Like number 12 at