Courtesy of the Ridge Course at Castle Pines North
From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
It was once said, probably first about California's Monterey Peninsula, that great golf courses breed great golf courses. That's certainly true of the foothills of the Rockies a half hour south of Denver, where The Ridge at Castle Pines North sits almost immediately next door to Sanctuary Golf Club and just to the north of The Country Club at Castle Pines, which in turn is bordered on its south by famed Castle Pines Golf Club.
The Ridge, the only one of the four courses actually located in the town of Castle Pines (the others are in Castle Rock), is the only one of the four open for public play. (According to the city website, The Ridge is municipally owned, but privately managed by Troon Golf.)
I'm not saying The Ridge is as great a golf course as Sanctuary or Castle Pines, both of which have resided on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest, or even quite as good as the Country Club at Castle Pines, one of Jack Nicklaus' relatively hidden gems. The Ridge at Castle Pines has far too many panoramic views of rooftops and power poles to make it a great course, in my opinion, but architecturally its Tom Weiskopf design, a residential layout that loops along pine-dotted foothill ridges and across rocky foothill slopes, does provide playing qualities very similar to those experienced at the three private neighboring clubs.
There is great change of pace in The Ridge. For every green that's accessible by a bouncing shot, such as the perched green on the 461-yard par-4 third, there’s a green completely surrounded by bunkers, such as at the 165-yard fourth, which demands a high soft shot. The sixth, playing uphill at 307 yards, is Weiskopf's drivable par 4 here, with a diagonal string of bunkers and high rough short of the green requiring a long carry through the thin air to reach the putting surface off the tee. The long par-5 11th has three cross bunkers in the center of the fairway over the last 150 yards leading to the green, but at least the approach is downhill. Meanwhile, the short par-4 15th has a tall Ponderosa pine in the middle of its fairway, a feature also found at Sanctuary and Castle Pines.
The Ridge's final holes give us the best feel of the Rocky Mountains. The green of the 175-yard 17th sits beneath a large sandstone outcropping, and the tee boxes of the 390-yard 18th are positioned atop that stone tower. The last hole plays uphill to a green tucked well below the clubhouse level, just as found on the closing holes at both Sanctuary and the Country Club at Castle Pines.
The view from The Ridge's 18th green, looking back down the fairway, is the best vista on the course. It looks southwest toward the Rocky Mountain range, with hardly a rooftop or a power pole anywhere in view.
Best in State: Ranked 18th, 2019-'20. Ranked 19th, 2017-'18.
Current ranking: 21st.