Golfers have five courses from which to choose

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— Golfers who visit Northwest Colorado this summer can discover plenty of challenges on the area's five unique courses.

In Steamboat, golfers can explore the rolling fairways and pot bunkers reminiscent of Scotland at the Haymaker, test their skills along the demanding tree-lined holes at the Steamboat Golf Club or get a taste of a traditional mountain course built around the roaring waters of Fish Creek at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. If you happen to know a member or own property there, the course at the private Catamount Ranch and Club also offers a one-of-a-kind golfing experience.

Golfers who don't mind a short drive can find another rewarding experience at Yampa Valley Golf Course in Craig.

"I think Golf Digest (who ranked both the Haymaker and Catamount Golf courses among the top-20 in Colorado) is telling us something that we already know," Haymaker golf pro Hank Franks said. "Steamboat offers one of the best golfing experiences anywhere in Colorado."

Haymaker is a city-owned, public course designed to bring a little bit of Scotland to the Yampa Valley.

Play began in May and the course will remain open until November -- weather permitting.

"We got a little bit of a late start this year because of the weather, but I think that will be a good thing down the road," Franks said.

The 18-hole, links-style course can play up to 7,300 yards. It's in its seventh year of operation, and Franks said the course is just starting to get the recognition it deserves.

The course was ranked 16th in the state of Colorado and fourth among public courses.

Franks said Haymaker's unique design makes it a perfect fit in Steamboat's already varied golfing landscape. He said the area offers a wide range of courses that appeal to a wide range of people.

The semi-private Steamboat Golf Club, west of Steamboat along U.S. Highway 40, was the first golf course built in Steamboat.

The course was built in 1964 by a group of private investors who wanted to bring the game of golf to Steamboat Springs. The course is owned by its members but allows public play throughout the summer.

Club general manager George Dalrymple said the course promotes a family atmosphere and offers one of the most affordable golfing experiences in all of Northwest Colorado.

"It's a full-sized course, but it plays very, very tight," he said.

Players will be challenged by the course's tight fairways and well- placed greens. Accuracy is key when playing this course.

A blend of quiet elegance and top quality golf helped to set the Sheraton golf course apart from other courses here in Colorado.

The 6,900-yard, 18-hole course is open from mid-May through November, weather permitting.

The course is owned by the Sheraton and managed by Troon Golf and offers limited open play throughout the summer.

"We offer all the services of a private golf club, but we try to keep a more relaxed atmosphere," head pro Gary Crawford said.

"We pride ourselves on our service and want to make everyone who plays here feel at home."

Built on the flanks of Mount Werner in 1974, the rambling waters of mountain streams and dramatic tee shots will challenge and entertain.

Over the years the course has hosted many tournaments including the Walker-Lundquist Invitational, the David Graham Invitational and the Colorado Men's match play.

The course has also won awards from the Denver Post, Colorado Golfer, Colorado's Best and Golf Digest.

The Yampa Valley Regional Golf Course can be found just 45 minutes from Steamboat Springs in Craig.

This 18-hole course opens in later April and stays open until the snow flies in November.

Head Pro Tom Dockstader said the course is one of the best values going in Colorado, offering scenic holes nestled along the banks of the Yampa River at a reasonable price.

"This is a great place to see deer, elk, fox, eagles and whistle pigs," Dockstader said. "The abundance of wildlife here helps make this course very unique."

Golfers also will be challenged by the course's 6,548-yard layout. The front nine was built in 1967 and the second nine was added in 1984,

The course has gained regional and statewide recognition over the years and hosted more than 20,000 rounds in 2002 alone.

Dockstader said the front nine features challenging small, undulating greens. The greens are a bit flatter on the back nine, but are also much larger.

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