Breckenridge, Colorado can boast that it is the only municipality in the world to own a Jack Nicklaus designed, 27-hole golf course. The course opened for play in 1985. During the summer 2001 golf season, the Town opened another nine holes also designed by Nicklaus and every bit as challenging as the original 18-holes. The new Elk nine as it is named, offers more elevation change than the Bear and Beaver nines.
Since the opening of the course, national and regional honors have been bestowed on Breckenridge. Honors awarded by the Colorado Golfer (the State Golf Newspaper) have included; Best Mountain Course, and Toughest Mountain Course. Golf Digest "Places to Play" rates Breckenridge as a 4 -Star Award Winner, and as one of their top "Upscale Places To Play" in the nation. The course is also Zagat rated.
The Breckenridge golf course is situated in the beautiful glacier sculpted Upper Blue mountain valley. The clubhouse sits at an elevation of 9,324 feet. At this elevation the golf ball flies farther and straighter than at lower elevations, as there is less air resistance.
The Breckenridge golf course has four sets of tees so that each golfer may select the challenge equal to their game. From the Nicklaus Tees on the Elk/Beaver rotation, the course plays 7,145 yards and has a course rating of 73.5 with a slope rating of 151. This set of tees has the second most difficult course rating in the state. A challenge for even the best golfer. Each set of tees plays to a par 72.
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The Breckenridge golf course has three championship nines, the Bear the Beaver and the Elk. All three nines are Jack Nicklaus signature courses. Panoramic views of the snowcapped Colorado Rockies can be seen on every hole. Dense wooded areas give way to open native grassland and wetland areas. It is not uncommon to spot wildlife during your round. Seeing beaver, deer and elk, an occasional moose and bear, abundant red fox and red tail hawks, you realize golf at Breckenridge is more than just golf.
The Bear Course
Opened in 1985, the Bear was the first nine to grace the landscape known to the early day miners as Buffalo Flats. The miners certainly did not imagine golf in such an environment. What was once a tent city of miners seeking fortunes of gold, the landscape now is a challenging golf course with players seeking pars and birdies. The challenges for today's golfer are quite similar to yesterday's miners - nothing comes easy.
You should shoot no higher than your handicap the first six holes on the Bear nine, because holes 7, 8, and 9 are as tough as they get. To finish this nine on pace with your handicap will take all of your skills. The Bear nine has the most open feel of the three nines, as many of the holes play around the native grasses and wetlands. Views of the Ten-Mile mountain range are most notable on holes eight and nine. For a great view of the ski runs at the Breckenridge Ski Area, look back down hole # 5 once you are on the green. The Bear was fittingly named for the black bears that wander onto this nine numerous times every summer.
The Beaver Course
The second nine to open, in 1987, was the Beaver. The Beaver nine has the narrowest fairways of any of the nines. Accurate drives, although not necessarily long drives, are a requirement for you to shoot your handicap on this nine holes. A venture to the left of holes 6, 7, and 8 and you will notice rock piles, tailings as the miners called them, leftover from the days of gold mining in the area. The miners were not the only creatures to leave their mark on the topography. The Beaver nine takes its name from the beaver ponds that are scattered along holes 6, 8,and 9. These holes have active beavers that helped create the challenges that await you on these holes. Dont blame Jack Nicklaus for this design work. The beavers created the habitat and Nicklaus left it in place for your enjoyment. Enjoyment can also be read as frustration. The beaver ponds on the eighth hole seem to have a magnetic pull on the golf ball. Although this nine finishes with a par three, par is tough to come by. The change in elevation along with the swirling breezes makes this one of the toughest tee shots on the nine. Good luck! The large rounded mountain that frames the ninth hole is Buffalo Mountain, part of the Gore Mountain Range. Buffalo was the last active volcano in this mountain range, long before the Scots dreamed up the game of golf.
The Elk Course
The success of the original 18 holes, prompted Town officials to look into expansion. Breckenridge did expand in 2001. The Elk nine opened giving golfers 27-holes to play. The Elk nine offers the most elevation change of the three nines, as well as the widest panoramic views of the Ten-Mile mountain range. Its easy to see why the Elk like this area so much. With open views, a lake to drink from, and nourishing bushes and grasses to eat from they have it made. To the golfer having it made is a different story. The challenges of the Elk nine are accuracy, accuracy and accuracy. Without accuracy you too will be experiencing the lake, and the bushes. Although more open than the Beaver nine, drives must be hit to specific locations for the best approach shots into the greens. The sixth hole on the Elk nine is the shortest par four hole at Breckenridge measuring only 281 yards from the Nicklaus tees, which is quite driveable at the high elevation. But, as with most short par fours, the riskreward ratio is skewed a bit to the risk side for those golfers opting to attempt to drive the green. Hole seven has the most elevation change of any of the 27-holes at Breckenridge. The tee box elevation on #7 is 9445, the highest point on the entire golf course. The green level of #7 is 9370, a change of 75 from tee to green! Mountain Golf at its pinnacle!