Fossil Trace Golf Club Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.5

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Golden, CO
Online Specials

P1010371 P1010467_edited P7150647

Fossil Trace Golf Club Review

Ounce again our Colorado Golf Binge two foursomes played Fossil Trace to start our 5 day binge.  Teed off at 2pm Sunday after a great lunch at the club.

 We all love this course. It was is great shape as usual.  One of our players got a hole in one on the 5th hole.  Of course he bought the pitchers of beer for our group after the round.

Previously replayed Fossil Trace with my college student nephew.   On the first day of Spring, March 20, 2014 we skied Arapaho Basin in the AM then drove down to Fossil Trace for a great lunch at the club.  We teed off at 2 pm about 3 hours after skiing our last run.

The course is in surprisingly good shape for March.  Fairways were nice and green.  The greens weren't as smooth and fast as their summer greens but mighty nice for early season.  Their bunkers were still under winter wraps on most holes but uncovered and good on a few holes.   Fossil Trace is better than ever with new carts and advanced GPS, enlargements to greens 1 and 18 and a cart path extension to the 18th green.

 Fossil Trace Golf Club lies right behind that big golden domed government building in Golden north of I-70. Their slogan is “Escape the Ordinary, Experience the Extraordinary” and they claim their course was 64 Million Years in the Making! They’re right on their first claim. The experience is Extraordinary…especially for a Texas Flatlander. I’ll just have to trust them on their 64 million year claim. But this is also probably true because the walls of the cliffs on the back nine contain fossils of prehistoric creatures and plants that have been studied for years by students of the Colorado School of Mines. In fact two walls by the famous 12th hole are set with lights for students and tour groups doing evening studies of the fossils.

Before you head to Fossil Trace check out their great website.  It's a terrific way to get a feel for what you'll experience.  I wish they still had their Flyover video on their website, though.

I’ve been able to play this course 12+ times and have improved progressively as I’ve learned how to play Colorado golf course designer, Jim Engh’s bowl greens and sloping fairways. Some golf purists criticize Engh’s designs as being too golfer friendly but I find them to be great fun.  In fact on my 2010 round I got a hole-in-one on the uphill par 3 third hole by using the backstop.  I was hosting a group of my TX and IL buddies and we had fun celebrating the special day at Fossil Trace's bar/restaurant overlooking the course.

Head Golf Pro, Jim Hajek, will warn you not to bite off more of the course than you can handle. But in 2009 we didn’t listen. We played from the tips (Black tees) for 18 holes. The 6,831 yards at a high altitude with a 72.5/139 rating/slope didn’t seem too tough to handle but the narrow 480 yard par 4 4th and the 659 uphill into the wind 9th hole proved too much for us. So we squeezed in another nine holes after a great lunch.  Good decision.

This time we played the Blue tees at 6,241 yards with a 69.3/131 rating/slope and found it much better for our game and egos. Another option would be to play the "T-Rex" tees (a combination of the Black and Blue tees measuring 6,577 yds and 71.2/135 rating/slope). Before you go check out Fossil Trace's great website including very well done videos of holes 1, 10, 12 and 15. These will give you a good taste of what you'll experience on a golden day in Golden. Have your cameras rolling when you play the unique 12th and 15th holes. Both are par 5s. The 12th makes you feel like you’re the ball in a pinball or bumper pool game as you pick your route through tall rock formations in the fairway.  

Golden is a fun town to visit après-golf. You’ll see some of the Coors Brewery near the Fossil Trace Golf Club - a tempting tour after 18 holes on a 64 million year old golf course!


Sam Sherstad Writer, Recreation Travel Reviews

P1010468_edited Img_3144 P1010471_edited

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,831 72.5 139
Blue 6,241 69.3 131
White 5,559 66.4 119
Gold 6,577 71.2 135
Red 4,681 66.5 121

Course Information

Course Architect:
Jim Engh
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
yes, but very steep and difficult
Course Map
Beware of water on 6 holes and the 36 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$58.00 to $90.00

Jim Hajek (Head Pro) and staff do a great job of running a unique golf and dining experience combined with an up close geology lesson. We missed seeing Jim on this day as he and his wife were celebrating their 30th anniversary. The Players Assistants are very friendly and helpful. The bar/restaurant has great food, a nice selection of draft beers and a super deck with a view of the golf course. Don't miss this one.



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.