Lakota Canyon Ranch Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.6

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

P8270112 Img_2591 Img_2595

Lakota Canyon Ranch Review

Wow!  What a great improvement Lakota Canyon Ranch has made with their new clubhouse!  Such an improvement from the old days.  The entry even has a live lobster tank!  Contrast that to the cold sandwich days in the old building.

I last played Lakota Canyon Ranch July 19, 2018  with a Summit County buddy and we had a wonderful day. This is another Jim Engh designed roller coaster course you need to try. I rank Lakota Canyon Ranch super high on the "fun factor"....especially that beautiful, quiet and secluded front nine. 

Some golf purest would criticize the valley fairways and bowl shaped greens as being too forgiving but for the recreational golfer looking for an exciting round with fantastic vistas and lots of elevated tee shots this course is definitely a "must play" for you.

Lakota Canyon Ranch is a mile north of I-70 at exit 105 in New Castle, CO ten miles west of Glenwood Springs. It's just an hour from Aspen and Vail and about 2.5 hours from Denver.

The course was built in 2004 and has received numerous awards nationally as a top ranked affordable public course.  Golf Digest listed it among the Top 100 Best Public Courses in American in 2014.  It's normally open from May through October. At 5,500' elevation you'll find warmer summer weather and a longer season than the courses in the Vail and Breckenridge areas also reviewed in

The front nine is a beautiful and exciting climb up into the mountains just south of the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. This nine includes three classic par 5s with seriously elevated tee shots, valley fairways and stadium-style partial bowl greens. Pay close attention to the pin positions and the opportunity to use back stops and side wall bounces when hitting your approach shots to all the Lakota Canyon Ranch greens. The three par 3s on the front nine border on being too tricked up with severe slopes (especially the 9th hole) that you may love or hate depending on the kick and roll you receive on your tee shot.  LCR struggles a bit on drainage problems on some fairways which is very typical of Rocky Mountain courses.  And some railings along cart paths are looking pretty rough.  Again typical of the effects of deep winter snow and run off.  But all in all the peaceful beauty especially in the front nine make this course super special.

The back nine is a little more traditional while still showing many signs of Jim Engh's design style. The par 5 18th is Lakota Canyon Ranch's signature hole and it's a classic risk/reward beauty. If you hit a big drive near the end of the first fairway go for the green in two but don't let that shot stray to the right or you're dead. The safer shot is to lay up to the second fairway to your right then hit the shallow green with a good backstop with a lofted iron and one putt for a memorable finishing birdie.

The modest old clubhouse on the ridge was a strike against Lakota Canyon Ranch for years.  Well, it's gone now.  LCR is now part of Warrior Golf Club Co. and has finally been able to add a nice new clubhouse in its place.  The views from the clubhouse and deck are awesome.

New Castle has a few options on dining.  My favorite is the 1950's style New Castle Diner in the City Market Shopping Center.  Beyond that my recommendation is to go to beautiful and historic Glenwood Springs just a short 10 mile drive away for some of the best of Colorado. See Recommended lodging includes Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and the Spa of The Rockies with its 103F natural hot springs pool. Also Hampton Inn and several nice B&Bs offer friendly and comfortable lodging options for your visit. Glenwood Springs offers a wonderful variety of dining options including, Fin's Grill, Beau Jo's, Florindo's Italian, Chili's and Rosi's Little Bavarian. Glenwood Springs also has some incredible family fun options including cave tours, gondola ride and a very scary and exciting giant Swingshot 1,300' over the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon for those thrill seekers that have no fear of heights.

You'll long remember your visit to Lakota Canyon Ranch, New Castle and Glenwood Springs. Put it on your list of "Must Do/See/Play".

Sam Sherstad

Writer, Recreation Travel Reviews

2011-08-21_co_golf_binge_050 2011-08-21_co_golf_binge_071 2011-08-21_co_golf_binge_055

Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,111 72.5 147
Blue 6,369 69.0 127
White 5,608 65.9 110
Red 4,744 68.5 123

Course Information

Course Architect:
Jim Engh
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Course Map
Beware of water on 9 holes and the 35 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$75.00 to $99.00

Chris Whelpton, General Manager, and his staff do a fine job of hosting golfers from all over the world to their unique course. Chris has a strong background in quality customer service including managing high class restaurants. I'd bet the live lobster tank was his idea!



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. 


About Texas Outside

Texas Outside has been alive & well since 1996 - that's ancient by today's internet standards! Texas Outside was originally developed by Lone Star Internet which is an Austin based web development company with an excellent reputation & client base. In March of 2006, we purchased Texas Outside & made a commitment to add new, exciting, & informative content on Texas outdoor activities & fun things to see & do.

Read More >>>

Contact Us

Please feel free to send us your suggestions.

Suggestions or Comments: