Local courses among state's best

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Golfers have more than 200 golf courses to choose from in Colorado, but they can find two of the best right here Steamboat.

Golf Digest, one of the industry's most prestigious magazines, has ranked Catamount Ranch and Club as No. 10 and Haymaker as No. 16 in its best-in-state rankings for 2003-04 season.

"I think that Golf Digest is just pointing out something that people in Steamboat have known for a long time," Haymaker professional Hank Franks said.

Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood was the top-ranked course in Colorado and Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock was No. 2.

"This is huge for us," Catamount Director of Golf Jim Miller said. "This is a great honor for our club, and for our superintendent, Chris McPherson. I think our members will take a lot of pride in making the list."

The 7,088-yard, par 72 course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and built in 1999. When it first opened, the course allowed limited outside play for its first three years, but Miller said only members or players sponsored by members will be allowed on the course this season.

"We were excited to get nominated and were even happier when the rankings came out," Miller said. "This is the first time we've been put on the best-of list, but hopefully not the last."

It's also the first time the Haymaker has made the top-20 list.

"This is one of the biggest honors you can get in the state of Colorado -- especially for a public course," Franks said. "Golf Digest is one of the most read magazines out there, and this list can mean a lot for any golf course."

The Haymaker is a public course east of Steamboat along U.S. Highway 40. The par-72, link-style course opened seven years ago. It is the only public course in Steamboat.

The Golf Digest list was compiled by a group of course raters who played the courses last summer.

The judges rated the courses on shot values, resistance to scoring, design variety, memorablity, aesthetics, conditioning, ambiance and walkability. The judges' scores were then added together and a list of the top 20 courses in the state was formed.

Franks thinks the list will be a boost for Steamboat this summer.

"People all over the state are going to be reading that list and they are going to want to come up here and see what we have to offer," Franks said.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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