Dalton Ranch Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.5

Golf - Semi Private Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Durango, CO

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Dalton Ranch Golf Club Review

Review of Dalton Ranch Golf Club

Wow, what a fantastic 18 holes of golf just north of historic Durango.  Dalton Ranch and Golf Club was built by Ken Dye in 1993 and it winds its way along the Animas River with scenic vistas of the towering red cliffs of the San Juan Mountains.  Dalton Ranch is an American Links style course that’s relatively short at 5539 to 6934 yards but challenging because it requires some strategic shot making and according to the head pro it has “tougher approach shots than any other course he has played!”  With a slope and rating of 73.6 and 138, Dalton Ranch Golf Club is no walk in the park and you need to make sure that you pick the right set of tee boxes and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Some of the reasons we think Dalton Ranch and Golf Club a must play include:

  • It’s very scenic with the Animas River, colorful San Juan Mountains, and a wide variety of towering trees
  • The conditions are near perfect – the fairways are lush and plush, the greens are true and fast, the rough is thick and playable, and the course is very well maintained and manicured
  • The Ken Dye layout is excellent – fun, fair but demanding, lots of variety, and memorable
  • The course will throw a lot at you including lots of tall mounds and deep swales, water that will come into play on several holes, big strategically placed bunkers, and dog legs
  • It’s a layout that demands good course management and putting skills and strategic shot making if you want to score well
  • The greens are excellent – big, true, fast, soft, tiered and contoured, raised, and well-guarded

In addition to all of that, Pete Dye has designed some very fun, memorable, and demanding holes, some that we really liked included:

  • all of the par 3s are outstanding with some mixture of water, big bunkers, and demanding green complexes that require precise shots
  • #4 is the #1 handicap hole - a 558 yard par 5 that requires accuracy from tee to green to manage the dog leg left off the tee (a risk reward shot if you think you can fly the tall tree), a good second shot to position you for a tough approach with sand, the Animas River and trees guarding the green
  • #7 is a beautiful par 5 with water on the right from the tee to the green and also across the front the green plus 3 huge bunkers one of which pinches the fairway, one that wants to catch your second shot and one that guards the green
  • #11 is a 479 yard par 4 that offers a great risk reward shot to try and carry more of the lake and huge bunker to shorten the approach shot to another big bunker and a small pot bunker guarding the green
  • #13 will test your skills at keeping the ball in play - water along the left from the tee to in back of the green, six bunkers most of which are huge, and another tough approach shot

The fairways are tree, water, or sand lined and range from generous off the tee box to tight on the approaches.  The terrain plays in the river valley and is flat, but Dye added a lot of contour, slope, and mounding to create uneven lies.  Mounding is everywhere and most of the mounds are huge, some are strategically placed and split the fairway, and all of them will cause a very uneven and challenging shot if you land on them. When we played the fairways were lush and plush and in fantastic condition.  The rough was wide and in excellent condition and ranged from thin and playable to a tad thick. 

The Dalton Ranch and Golf Club greens range in shape and size with most being above average size.  All are raised and well guarded with some combination of trees, water, bunkers, mounds, and swales - which puts a premium on your approach shots.  Once you're on the green, study them carefully - they were fast and true but heavily contoured.  Two and three putts were common for us.

The bunkers are treacherous - most are large enough for a semi tractor trailer and the sand is soft and deep.  I was tempted to pull out my umbrella and beach chair and order a pina colada and pretend I was at the beach in Florida. 

Bottom line:  Dalton Ranch and Golf Club is a must play that's fun, demanding, scenic, and in excellent condition but a  little pricey.

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

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 6,394 70.0 131
White 5,982 69.2 127
Gold 6,934 71.0 134
Red 5,539 72.3 137

Course Information

Course Architect:
Ken Dye
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 12 holes and the 48 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$69.00 to $105.00

The Dalton Ranch and Golf Club clubhouse is spectacular and the deck overlooking the 18th hole is a great place for some great food. The pro shop is well stocked, the service is top notch, and the practice facilities are good - spend some time on the greens and practice your short game.



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.