The River Course at Keystone Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.5

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 71
Keystone, CO
Online Specials · Stay & Play

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The River Course at Keystone Review

Once again our annual 8-man Colorado Golf Binge group came to play our 36 hole day here at this great resort.  We teed off at 8am in a shotgun start at the River Course and the rain held off til we were on the 18th hole.  We were able to finish and head for the Ranch Course for lunch.  But after 2 holes at the Ranch the big rains hit and we called it a day........a very good day.

The Keystone Resort provides the ultimate in Colorado year round outdoors activities. A traveler wanting a great variety in winter sports or summer golf, biking, hiking, sailing, rafting, etc. can't go wrong by booking a trip to beautiful Keystone, Colorado.

Keystone has two spectacular 18 hole courses with two separate clubhouses: The River Course at Keystone and Keystone Ranch Course. Both are in the best condition I've ever seen this summer.  This review is on The River Course.  I played this course again this year with my Colorado Golf Binge group and the conditions of the fairways and tee boxes were good in spite of a bad winter.  We played 5 great Colorado courses last week at The River Course at Keystone Resort was voted as the favorite for several in our group largely due to the beautiful vistas and the exciting elevation drops.  

The River Course at Keystone hosted our son's pre-wedding golf tourney in 2012 and everything was spectacular.  Many of our players said that the River Course, the staff's service and that round of golf was the best golf experience they'd ever had. 

Keystone River Course opened in 2000 and has received numerous awards including three consecutive Silver Medals as one of America's Best Golf Resorts by Golf Magazine 2002-2007. Golf Digest ranked it as one of American's Top 75 Golf Resorts. It always ranks high in Colorado resorts and especially a favorite for women due to the friendly forward tees and the beauty of the normally snow-capped mountains towering over the lush green Snake River Valley.

The River Course is all about excitement, beauty and challenging shot-making. Five tee boxes on every hole allow you to pick your poison. The front nine opens with a gorgeous view of the Snake River valley and upcoming holes with a 551 yard par five off a high tee launching pad.  You'll wonder if your golf cart will survive 18 holes after that drive up to the first tee. It will! After your tee shot settles to the lush fairway well short of the snow-capped peaks of the Continental Divide and Keystone and Arapahoe Basin ski areas you will work your way through the valley and the front nine. Holes 5 and 6 are exciting target golf holes through a marshland often home to grazing elk and deer. #7 is a beautiful but tricky par 3 over the Snake River. After a long downhill par 3 ninth hole you'll pass the clubhouse and practice area and up into the hills of the back nine.

Hole #16 is the wildest tee shot on the course. It's a 500 yard downhill, dogleg left par 4 with a 200' elevation drop. #17 is a drive and a wedge to a challenging elevated green. The finishing hole provides a wonderful view of Lake Dillon, Buffalo Mountain and the Gore Range. This 520 yard par 5 is now ranked as the #18 handicap while the 222 yard par 3 third hole is ranked as the #1 handicap. This seems more logical than automatically slapping the toughest handicap ratings on the par 5's as done on many courses. The River Course at Keystone is certainly a beauty and a wonderful change for a Southerner tired of the summer heat, humidity and of playing flat, dry golf courses. And when you've played the River Course it's time you treated yourself to the Keystone Ranch Course. It's older and quite different from the River Course but also fun and challenging.

Steve Corneillier, GM of Golf, and his large staff do an excellent job of running their two top notch resort courses.  Phillip Tobias is PGA Head Golf Pro at The River Course.  Tod Anderson is Tournament Coordinator. Jim Banks is Head Pro at the Ranch Course.  I've always found all the Keystone staff to be friendly, professional and most helpful.

At times Keystone offers some great Stay and Play packages at great rates at the Inn at Keystone including golf at the Keystone Ranch Course and deals on golf and fly fishing clinics plus nature hikes and more. Check it out on their website


Sam Sherstad - Writer, Recreation Travel Reviews

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 6,886 71.3 137
Blue 6,507 69.8 130
Red 4,762 65.4 126

Course Information

Course Architect:
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Beware of water on 4 holes and the 68 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$75.00 to $170.00



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.