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Glacier Club - Cliffs Nine Holes Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.3

Golf - Private Course · 27 Holes · Par 36
Durango, CO
Website
Date Last Played: June 23, 2013

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Glacier Club - Cliffs Nine Holes Review

Review of  Glacier Club Cliffs Nine Holes

Located about 20 minutes north of historic Durango and surrounded by awe inspiring glacially striated cliffs and the peaks of the San Juan Mountains that rise to 14,000 feet, Glacier Club is an exclusive and upscale private golf course and golf community that has been carved dramatically from 1,000 acres above the cascading Animas River.  Amenities include a beautiful clubhouse, world class restaurant, pool, fitness center, tennis courts, and 27 holes of outstanding golf that wind through towering ponderosa pines, dramatic cliffs, stunning granite formations, and mountain streams and ponds. 

Each of the courses at Glacier Club have been chiseled out of the mountains and trees and the designers leveraged the natural terrain to create several natural hazards, unique challenges, and unparalleled scenic vistas. 

Glacier Club is home to three stunning nines, each of which has its own unique personality and characteristics:

  • The Hermosa Nines is a true mountain links course
  • The Cliffs Nine is like two different nines, one of which plays along some dramatic cliffs soaring above the fairways and the other which plays through a forest of towering ponderosa pines, mountain cedar, and aspen trees.
  • The Glacier Nine plays through some rugged mountain terrain with dramatic elevation changes, high Alpine meadows, protected wetlands, and glacial ponds

Unfortunately, we didn't have time during our trip to Durango to play the Hermosa Nine, but here is a link to the review of the Glacier Nine which we also loved.

The original 18 holes at the private Glacier Club was designed by Art Hills in the early 1970s and it included what is today the Cliffs and Hermosa Nines.  Since opening, both courses have gotten significant facelifts and renovations totaling more than $3 million.  The renovation was designed by Todd Schoeder of iCon Golf Studio.

I don't know what the Cliffs was like before, but today it is a very impressive nine that's a blast to play because it fair but very demanding, offers lots of variety and intriguing holes, plenty of ups and downs and elevation changes, excellent conditions, and stunning scenery including some huge beautiful mountain homes.  It doesn't get much better than a round on the Cliffs nine at Glacier Club.

What we think makes playing the Cliffs memorable is that the first three and last few holes play through rugged mountain terrain and glacier carved cliffs, some of which have magnificent huge homes perched on the top of them. In addition, the awesome San Juans sit majestically in the background framing some of the holes.  The middle holes of the Cliffs nine are completely different as they meander through native grasses and a towering forest of beautiful oak, aspen, ponderosa pine, and native fur trees - in the fall the color must be magnificent with the changing of the leaves. 

Not only is the scenery stunning and it's hard to keep your eye on the ball, but the Cliffs nine is very demanding and will throw a lot at you and to score well you need some good course management and club selection skills.  You'll encounter elevation changes, water, strategically placed bunkers, dog legs, risk reward shots, trees splitting the fairway, contoured and sloping fairways, and challenging green complexes. 

The Cliffs nine is a shot makers nine thanks to some tight fairways, trees that can block your shots, strategically placed bunkers, and very guarded approaches to the pin.  Don't let all of that scare you, there are four sets of tee boxes plus combo tee boxes and if you don't bite off more than you can chew and if you play play strategically you'll have a fun and memorable round with an opportunity to turn in a good score.   Some of the holes we really enjoyed on Glacier Club's Cliffs Course included:

  • #1 will test your course management and accuracy skills - a blind shot from the back tees to a wide fairway with a hidden lake on the right about 150 yards out and an approach shot to a green guarded by two big bunkers
  • #3 is the #1 handicap hole on this nine - a 552 yard par 5 with a boomerang shaped rolling and contoured fairway that turns right as it climbs up and then back down the hills leading to a huge pine in the middle of the fairway that can block your approach shot to a green guarded by a big steep faced bunker
  • #8 is a great par 3 that is all carry over a lake to the green
  • #9 is an excellent finishing hole and if you par it you'll deserve a cold beer - a 495 yard par 5 with an intimidating carry over the lake to a dog right fairway (an excellent risk reward shot to try and carry more of the lake to get on in 2) followed by an uphill shot to a green with three big bunkers in front

Colorado, like New Mexico and Texas, has been suffering through drought conditions but the Glacier Club fairways were in very good condition - lush, thick, and a joy to hit from after playing on some firm dry Texas fairways.  I felt guilty taking a divot.  The roughs were also in excellent condition and cut thin and playable.  The fairways run up and down the mountains and have plenty of contour and slope, so expect some uneven lies.  Beautiful mountain homes sit perched on the cliffs and a few along the fairway but they shouldn't come into play unless you really spray the ball. 

The greens on the Cliffs nine were near perfect, all shapes and sizes, raised, and well guarded.  They held the ball well, ran at a good speed, and were true, if you could read the breaks.  All of the greens have plenty of slope and contour and most seem bigger than average. 

There aren't a lot of bunkers but they are nasty and some are downright treacherous - big, steep, and deep.  The sand is great and a joy to hit from - soft and thick. 

The slope and rating are based on playing the Glacier and Cliffs nines, which is the toughest of the combination of nines.

You need to do whatever you can to get on and play this outstanding nine holes.  You might consider buying a vacation homesite and escaping the Texas heat in the summer.  To lean more about this great golf community, read our review of Glacier Club.

Read all about this fun trip to Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico where this is one of the courses we played.

Head Pro's Corner


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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 3,583 72.4 144
Gold 3,349 70.6 137
Blue 3,157 67.4 120
White 2,445 64.3 113

Course Information

Course Architect:
Art Hills
Greens Type:
Bent
Greens Condition
9.8
Greens Difficulty
9.0
Fairway Condition
9.5
Bunker Condition
9.5
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Hard and hilly
Scorecard
Course Map
Beware of water on 4 holes and the 19 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.3 out of 10
Beauty:
9.8
Difficulty:
9.0
Variety:
9.5
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
8.8
Condition:
9.3
Front Nine Rating:
9.5
Back Nine Rating:
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FEES & AMENITIES

Initiation Fees: $55,001 to $70,000
Monthly Dues: $601 to $800

The state-of-the-art practice facility offers putting and chipping greens, bunker practice, and 13 acres of turf with target greens. The pro shop is well stocked with everything you need, the carts are new, and the staff provides first class friendly service. The clubhouse is magnificent and you can’t beat the restaurant, bar, and outside patio with a panoramic view of the beautiful San Juan Mountains.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.