Cougar Canyon Golf Links Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.2

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Trinidad, CO
Online Specials · Stay & Play

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Cougar Canyon Golf Links Review

I've wanted to test my skills at Cougar Canyon for a long time.  I played it July 16, 2010 on a typically beautiful Southern Colorado day with 3 good friends that drove up from Dallas for a week of Colorado golf.  GOLF Magazine listed Cougar Canyon in 2007 as one of the top 10 courses you can play.  And they're right!

This Nicklaus Design course proved to be a challenge to our skills and our egos.  We played the Blue tees knowing the 7,669 yd 76.2 rating and 139 slope would be way too much for us for our first day (or any day).

The course proved to be a beauty.  The fairways are wide enough but serious trouble awaits wayward shots.  The greens are big and fast.  A unique feature is their black sandtraps.  The sand is actually crushed volcanic rock from New Mexico.  It's fairly soft and dry and you won't get a buried lie in these traps.  I think we saw cougar tracks in one of the traps up in the hills.

There are elevation changes and at 6,000' above sea level walking this course would be a real workout for a visiting lowlander.

The par 5s are exceptional.  Hole 3 is a target golf adventure while hole 6 offers a split fairway option.  Some are blind off the tee so this would be a great course to play several times and learn what's over those hills.

Their signature hole is the par 3 16th sitting like a rock island surrounded by canyons..............But it's not as tough as it looks in the photos.  My buddy and I both birdied it......and both took a big sigh of relief when the downhill putts found the cup.

The current economy has caused struggles for Cougar Canyon as the bank financing their hotel went under and construction on the hotel is on hold.  But the pro shop, villas and golf course are all in super shape at this time.  And Cougar Canyon offers Stay n Play deals with three fine Trinidad hotels.

Lastly, I didn't get to try it but someday I hope to enroll in their Phil Ritson-Mel Sole Golf School.  Cougar Canyon would be a great place for a 1, 2 or 3 day golf school.

Cougar_canyon_golf_school Cougar_canyon__13 Cougar_canyon__5

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,669 76.2 139
Blue 6,725 71.2 131
White 6,155 68.7 120
Red 5,327 65.9 102

Course Information

Course Architect:
Nicklaus Design
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Yes, but challenging in heat.
Course Map
Beware of water on 2 holes and the 32 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.2 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$65.00 to $99.00

Laurie and Kristen do a great job of running a classy pro shop. See photo. Cougar Canyon seems to be attracting a lot of good tournaments which is exactly what they need in this economy. They do a fine job on the course maintainence and management. The Player's Assistants give helpful tips and keep the pace of play reasonable.



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. 


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