Gateway Land & Development

Monthly Archives: May 2015

I was planning to play golf in Ft. Collins today but the weather was uncooperative.  I was driving up to Vail later but drove up sooner than expected and arrived about Noon.  There was enough blue sky mixed in with the low clouds to go for it, and I teed off with 2 other members of the Vail Men’s Club at about 12:30.  The course is in great early season shape.  3 of the greens were a little bumpy and #15 has an alternate green that is being used to help growth on the original #15 green.  With the late season snow and a lot of rain, the growth is phenomenal and the course is playing long.  All 3 of us were walking and we played the front nine in 90 minutes.  On the 3rd hole we shed a layer.  The back nine took us about 30 minutes longer since we had to put on the rain gear and open the umbrellas on the #13th fairway and put it away after #14.  I shot an 86 with a Phil Mickelson type flop shoot birdie on #16.  I played from the Blue Tees except for the par 3s.  When the Men’s Club plays usually on Wednesdays, because of the betting arrangements for closest to the pins, all players play the par 3’s from the same tees.  The younger golfers I was playing with played the back (black) tees.  By the time I got to East Vail for dinner the sky looked really threatening and about dusk the predicted thunder showers and lightening began.  It was another great day in Vail.


Last December 2014, my son called me and told me he had good news and bad news.  I chose good news first.  The good news was that he had won a set of golf clubs and a fitting.  The bad news was that I must “fly” to New York City (Plaza of the Americas), or the Biltmore in Miami, or a golf club in the Bahamas (where Tiger is moving his own tournament next year) to get fitted.  I have only flown once since 9/11.  I made flight arrangements to fly Frontier on January 8, 2015 (Frontier just added that route to Miami in January) returning January 9, redeye both ways.  In the meantime I read everything I could find on the internet and in magazines about new equipment and fittings and the company doing the fitting and providing the clubs, True Spec Golf .  True Spec was less than a year old then and had a temporary website, with contacts in their locations with both men and women famous golfers, many shaft and club suppliers, lots of pictures and blogs.Golf fitting

I began golfing seriously when I was almost 40 and since then I have always pieced together my bag with clubs, sometimes new but even then usually a few years old, if you get the picture.  I got in touch with golfing friends from Texas, California, Florida and Georgia.  I talked to several young PGA assistants at courses where I regularly play.  I went to several retail establishments that had trackman equipment and hit different clubs.  I read Golf Magazine and Golf Digest surveys of new clubs.  I had way too much information in my head for sure, which happens to me on the course sometimes (my golf friends would say that was an understatement).  I sent the Master Fitter my bag information, age and relevant (probably irrelevant) thought processes.  At one time I thought I would go Callaway (all-the-way) but in the end I decided to just go with the Master Fitter’s recommendations.ball and golf clubs

The flight there was a breeze and I was able to ride the tramway to the car rental building and get to the Biltmore before they put out the morning breakfast buffet which was great.  I called Andy (the Master Club Fitter) and let him know I had arrived in time for the 8:30 a.m. fitting.   Before we started Andy introduced me to one of the investors and happened to mention that he was fitting another possible one that afternoon.  I had played a few times right up to the middle of December, but had not played even a hole of golf for 3 weeks.  I warmed up with a few stretches and a half bucket of balls.  The fitting was magical, this club, that shaft.  Suddenly more than 3 hours had passed.  Just before we got to the driver, a blood blister under a callus on my left hand ring finger popped.  I had a few band aids in my wallet but I was done.   I am not sure how many shots most people hit during a fitting but I hit a lot.  During a regular round most people might hit 50 or less full shots.  I must have hit 3 times that many, who knows?  I was swinging very well I thought, and still do think.  You sometimes wonder what a real great golfer or for that matter a Master Fitter really thinks about the conversation or the fitting if you know what I mean?

We ended the fitting and I left the Biltmore to head to Boca Raton to spend a few hours visiting special friends there.  I took I-95 to Boca Raton to get to their home.  The ride was intense.  People yelling and honking.  Need I say more?  I got there and had a great time visiting and having a fabulous lunch.  The couple had bought a home on one of the local golf courses in the Vail area from me and then I helped them sell it many years later after great get-togethers and golf outings.  We kept in touch regularly and discussed golf and other matters.  He died from the cancer he was fighting before I received my clubs from the fitting.  I returned to the car rental building late in the early evening.

Having had some experience with car rentals, I had asked the desk person when I got the rental if I would need to fill the tank before I returned.  He asked me my itinerary and when I told him what it was,  he said it would not be necessary.  Notwithstanding that, upon the return the check-in-guy said it would be a $55 dollar charge since I did not fill the car.  I had plenty of time and said I would drive out and fill it, not of course at the pump just outside the rental car building.  We negotiated.  $15 did it.  This experience about the gas does not seem relevant to you yet, but if you have read this far, you will understand why soon.

I rode the tramway back to the airport and went through the security apparatus and checks without incident.  When I got to the Frontier counter, I realized that all of my email communication with Andy and his counterpart in New York had disappeared.  It could only have fallen out of my briefcase (the only baggage I had brought) in the car in my frustration and fiddling with papers with the check-in-guy at the car rental building I thought.  Since I had plenty of time before the flight, I decided to go ride the tramway back to the car rental building (maybe a half mile) to look for it-bad decision.  Talking to the desk person, and locating the car, and checking it and the trash where it was cleaned and the tramway both ways took about 2 hours and was not successful.  I was not a happy camper when I got to Security.  They notice those things and I got quite a pat-down at Security.  I was still in plenty of time before the flight to get a little meal.  In actuality I had time for a feast since the flight was on a hold because of weather in Denver, a very localized ice storm which left at least 1/4th inch of ice on the car and made it difficult to open a door.  Defrosting it enough to get the ice off of the car windows took added time even with my Vail ice scraper.  The ride to Georgetown was a nightmare but from there on to Vail the sky and interstate were clear.  The next blog will cover waiting for and receiving the clubs and subsequent play with them.

It’s a beautiful day in Colorado, Bob






Golf Season 2015 began in Eagle County in March although not all courses have opened yet.  The Vail Golf Course opened 2 weeks early on May 1.  Prior to that Gypsum Creek Golf Course and Eagle Ranch Golf Course had already entertained play.  Not including the courses south of Glenwood Springs, the 14 Eighteen hole courses beginning in Vail and proceeding west are:  Vail Golf Course, Eagle-Vail Golf Course, Beaver Creek Golf Course, Sonnenalp Golf Club (aka Singletree), Country Club of the Rockies (aka Arrowhead at Vail), the 3 Cordillera Courses-The Valley, Ranch and Summit, Eagle Springs Golf Course (north of the Wolcott exit), the 2 Red Sky Ranch Courses-Norman and Fazio (south ofthe Wolcott exit), Eagle Ranch Golf Course just south of Eagle, Frost Creek (formerly Adams Mountain) further south of Eagle, and Gypsum Creek Golf Course south of Gypsum (formerly Cotton Ranch). Vail Golf There are Par 3 courses at the Divide in Cordillera and at the Eagle-Vail Course.  Check your telephone book or Google them to obtain contact information.

The only courses that are recognized as public courses on a full time basis are Vail, Eagle-Vail, Gypsum Creek and Eagle Ranch.  You are not allowed to play Frost Creek, Eagle Springs and Country Club of the Rockies unless you actually have a member playing in your foursome.  Beaver Creek allows public play without a member in the foursome after 10 a.m.  Red Sky has two courses and one is open to public play each day usually on an alternating basis.  At Red Sky, there are separate public and private Golf Shops-Club Houses and parking lots.  The Red Sky courses are currently rated in the top 100 Colorado public courses.  All three Cordillera courses are planned to be open this summer and play is limited to members and their guests, but a member does not have to play in the foursome.  Certain properties that you may stay at also have privileges at the Cordillera course.  The old practice of having a club pro from your home course make a reservation does not seem to be recognized at the private courses.  The Sonnenalp generally sets aside 14 tee times a day for public play which tee times cannot be made more that a week in advance.   ALL OF THE COURSES REQUIRE PROPER ATTIRE WHICH MEANS A COLLARED SHIRT AND PANTS THAT ARE NOT DENIM EVEN IF THE PANTS ARE DESIGNER.

I have played all the courses and consider them good, if not great.  Generally speaking, they are all excellent tests of golf and fun with great views.  Mountain golf can be difficult, especially the first few times you play a course.  It is rumored that a “famous Pro Golfer” walked off of a local course during the middle of a round of the Ford tournament one year.  By mid-June the courses are all usually in excellent shape.  Many of the courses were designed with limited land and/or with real estate development in mind and may have one or 2 less well designed holes.  Recognize that many of the players are on vacation and the pace of play may be somewhat erratic in spite of the efforts of the course personnel.  I would recommend that you try to make your tee times well in advance of your trip to the Vail area.

I generally play the Vail Course and consider it to be excellent.  It is the only course that you might try to walk.  My index is usually between 10 and 12 and I have had the good luck to ace 3 of the par 3s from the black tees.  I regularly play in the Vail Mens Club- not bragging, just trying to put this blog in perspective.  Have a great time in Vail.

It’s a beautiful day in Colorado,                                                         Bob Essin