The Bogey Golfer © Course Guides
Mt. Massive Golf Course Overview
The Mt. Massive Golf Course, just outside of Leadville, CO, has the singular distinction of being the highest golf course in the continent of North America. It's a nine-hole track situated at 9,950 feet of elevation above sea level. It's a fairly short course, playing just 6117 yards, if you take two laps from the tips. Its defenses consist of narrow fairways, and tiny elevated greens with bunkers guarding the shoulders.
The course was originally founded in 1939. However, it's been operating as a "real" course since the 1990s, with watered turf and full-time employees.
I played it on a gorgeous summer day in August -- temperatures in the low 70s and no wind to speak of. Having said that, be mindful of the elevation. When you're at 10,000 feet, bad things can happen quickly. Make sure you're adequately equipped. Use lots of sunblock, because the sun is, well, it's right there, if you know what I mean. Stay hydrated.
The clubhouse serves food, if you didn't get around to stopping in the old-time mining town at one of the historic landmarks on your way through. Carts are availble for rent, but the course is very walkable. It's situated in a morraine valley, and while you're literally surrounded by 14,000 ft. peaks, the course itself really doesn't have any appreciable elevation changes. The holes are continguous to each other, with no quarter mile drives through suburban settings. This is not a resort course meant to attract wealthy people to multimillion dollar homes -- it's an old time mountain course built by the locals for their own use. The staff is friendly and glad to see out-of-town visitors.
Mount Massive Golf Course - Detail
Hole #1 is a straightaway 400 yard par 4. Keep it on the fairway, and you'll be in good shape. Actually, even if you stray off the fairway a bit, there really isn't any trouble. Your approach shot needs a bit of accuracy, since the green is so small. There's a bunker short and right to watch out for. The green is slightly elevated (as most of them are on this course), so if you miss, you're left with a tricky chip.
Hole #2 is a par 3 with a blind tee shot. You climb a little tower to make sure the green is clear before teeing off. At 10,000 feet of elevation, you're going to get a club or two worth of extra carry, so plan accoringly on your club selection. There's no trouble around this hole, so take dead aim.
Hole #3 is a longish par 4, but not one that you can safely use driver. It has a short dogleg, and you really can't try for more than about 200 yards off the tee, unless you're really good at hitting hooks. On the other hand, this is one of the few greens that isn't elevated, so you can get away with rolling a long iron on.
Hole #4 is a short par 3. It looks like there's a bunker immediately in front of the green, but in fact, it turns out that bunker has about 20-30 yards of fairway still between it and the green. Having said that, you still need to be pretty accurate. Lots of woods left and right, and the green is elevated to challenge your chip shots.
Hole #5 is a short par 4, at just over 300 yards. It has an ever so slight dogleg to the right, marked by a pine tree that's about 150 yards out from the green. The perfect line is right over that tree, if that's a shot you like. Hitting a three wood or even a long iron to the left of that tree is a perfectly acceptable play.
Hole #6 is a short par 5 (480 yards) and is ranked as the easiest hole on the course. There's a lone tree on the right half of the fairway. As you might guess, the hole plays a bit easier if you can hit your drive down the left half. If you're at all worried about that, lay back with your three wood, and a right half drive won't kill you.
Hole #7 is a medium length par 4 (380 yards). It's a lot like #5, but a little longer. If you get plenty of altitude with your driver, hit it high, and crowd the right side. Otherwise hit your three wood and keep it in the fairway. If you stray into the rough, the odds are pretty good you can still find your ball, but you might have a dodgy lie.
Hole #8 is another short par 5, with a right hand bend to it. You tee off from a small ridge, and the trick is to find a line just left of the sand trap, or if you're hitting the ball really well, directly over the sand trap. If you're not using a driver, don't take the aggressive lines -- just hit it into the fairway.
The closing hole is 330-340 yards, straight away, no muss, no fuss. Hit two ho-hum straight shots and you're there. The green is pretty steep back to front, so your approach will hold if it lands anywhere on the green. If you're long, the chip back over is obviously tricky.
This is a short course with lots of opportunities for a bogey golfer to make pars, if you hit straight and play conservatively. Take the opportunity to focus on solid ball-striking with your mid irons, and don't worry too much about distance.