Catamount tees off to rave reviews

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— Don't let the chip and seal surface on the road that leads to the Catamount Ranch & Club pro shop fool you.
Despite a few last-minute details that were being attended to in the parking lot Monday morning, the golf course is now open and operating smoothly.
In fact, most of the local golfers who got to play it on its first day found nothing rough about Steamboat's newest golf course. The Catamount course is located just east of town across from the Haymaker Golf Course on U.S. 40. The 7,008-yard course, which was designed by Tom Weiskopf, opened for business on Monday morning. It brought rave reviews for the lucky few who got to play on opening day.
"The course is in absolutely fantastic shape," longtime Steamboat resident Jim Somerville said. "This is the first time I've ever been one of the first people to play a new golf course. It was wonderful." However, the course's official grand opening will not come until Aug. 12.
That day, Weiskopf and some prestigious guests will be in town to celebrate the course's opening.
"It was a soft opening," developer Mike Beckley said.
The course was expected to host 125 rounds of golf on Monday.
The course is now open to members and to non-members on a limited basis.
Catamount spokeswoman Jody Patten said non-members will be allowed to make tee times after 11 a.m. each day but no more than 48 hours in advance. The cost for non-members to play the Weiskopf course is $150 for 18-holes.
That invitation will be open for the rest of the 2000 season and most likely the 2001 season has well. Once the club reaches its maximum membership of 375, the course will be closed non-members, however.
Beckley said a slight buffer between the time the course opens and when it celebrates its grand opening was scheduled to make sure that the course was ready to go by Aug. 12. That affair, not unlike Monday's opening rounds, will be open only to a select few.
Somerville couldn't wait until that opening day. He teed off at 7 a.m. Monday in the first foursome to set foot on the courses plush fairways and pristine greens.
"You don't expect a new golf course to be in this good of shape," Somerville said. "There were no bare spots and the greens were in amazing shape."
Somerville lives off of the No. 4 hole of the Sheraton Golf Course. But he is already building a home on the new Catamount site.
He said he was struck by the inspiring beauty of each hole as he wrapped in and out of trees along the Walton Creek drainage. The creek provides many challenging holes filled with water hazards, native grasses and Weiskopf's unmistakable twists.
"It was like there was an elephant buried under every green," Somerville said. "Weiskopf likes to have humps in his greens."
Beckley played the golf course in the afternoon with his two sons
"I couldn't be happier with the way things turned out," Beckley said. "Not only are we happy to be open, but we want people to know that we want to be a part of the community."

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net

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