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Trinidad Municipal Golf Course: Colorado's best nine-hole course is just over the New Mexico state line

David R. HollandBy David R. Holland,
Senior Writer
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Stop and play Colorado's best nine-hole golf course: Trinidad Municipal. (Joe Van Loon/TravelGolf )

TRINIDAD, Colo. -- If you are driving from steamy regions of the Southwest and heading to cool off in Colorado, here's a tip for the travel golfer. Stop and play the state's best nine-hole golf course just over the New Mexico state line: Trinidad Municipal Golf Course. The course is highly affordable, always in beautiful condition.

A single-digit handicap will look at the scorecard and dream of a sub-70 round, but these smooth putting surfaces can be three-putt city if you leave an approach above the pin or if you face an across-the-green putt with a 5-foot break.

This hidden gem has great views of Trinidad's Fisher's Peak, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Spanish Peaks. In early spring and late fall you may even see a snowfall in the distant mountains.

Historic, legendary beginning

Trinidad Municipal Golf Course dates so far back (1915) that the architect is unknown.

"There has been a lot of speculation that it was designed by Donald Ross," said Guido Pachelli, course superintendent at Trinidad Municipal.

Ross, of course, designed Pinehurst and in 1918 completed the Broadmoor East Course in Colorado Springs. Perhaps a Ross employee made the trek to Trinidad and helped in the design.

The connection comes from Trinidad's diabolical greens that have traditional Ross features. Most are sloped with the high side in back -- often when you hit the low part of the putting surfaces a ball will trundle off the green.

On May 30, 1940 the course "reopened" as a "grass" course after a WPA project sponsored by the city. The WPA planted the elm trees that line most fairways. Native trees on the course are pinons.

"It is playable for all levels. It's not brutal for a beginner and it's challenging for the experts," low-handicapper Mike Dixon of Trinidad said. "And when you reach that third tee box and look out over the Sangre de Cristos, it's an awesome sight."

Trinidad Municipal Golf Course: The layout

A bell is the Trinidad Municipal Golf Course's trademark, and the bell hole is No. 2, a 326-yard par 4 with a blind tee shot. On the tee there's a sign telling you to wait for the bell signal. Then hit your blind shot down the left fairway boundary, because this fairway slopes hard from left to right. If you are down in the neighborhood of the bell, you have approximately 125 yards uphill to a green that won't allow you to roll it on.

The par 5s are the easiest, but the par 3s are tough. The 181-yard par-3 seventh is one of those tee shots that plays almost like an island. Missing the green means you are probably in trouble, but hitting the green is no bargain either.

The other par 3 is the 135-yard fifth. It has a sloped green from back to front, and it takes proper placement to remain on the green.

The "second" nine has different tee boxes, most lengthening each hole.

Stay a while in Trinidad

Old West legends abound. In the mid-1880s lawman Bat Masterson was hired to tone down rowdy hooligans who sauntered in and stumbled out of 33 saloons each night. Some say Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday came straight to Trinidad after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone. Even Billy the Kid and Black Jack Ketchum spent time here.

Located on the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail, Trinidad has been an outpost for travelers for hundreds of years. The massive Matador Ranch, a.k.a. the Matador Land and Cattle Company, with its origins in tiny Matador, Texas, some 400 miles away, had its headquarters in downtown at one time.

Located about 200 miles south of Denver on Interstate 25, Trinidad is a melting pot of Colorado. Native Americans and Spanish speaking pioneers were already here when European settlers came to work the coal mines. Some moved on, but many Italians stayed.

All that Old West history -- you might say "straight shooters" survived. One can say the same about Trinidad Muncipal Golf Course -- hit 'em straight and just try to master the slopes in the greens.

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David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

 
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