Contributed by Stuart Jones
Battlement Mesa Golf Course (Parachute, CO)
Par 72 (7,309 yards)
Green Fees: $59 for 18, $33 for 9
Battlement Mesa is one of my home courses. It located 45 miles east of Grand Junction, Colorado. It is perched on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River at an altitude of roughly 5000 feet.
Based on your rating system, I would rate it as a 3.5 on the walkability scale. It is a Colorado Plateau course, but not target golf, with easy hikes between green and tee. I suppose it would look like a “heathland” course to a Scot. There are several places on the course where the experienced player can save roughly a quarter mile of toting his or her bag by leaving it at the edge of the next fairway while taking a few clubs to the green and next tee. There are two short, but steep, climbs between green and tee, from the 14th green to the 15th tee (however, this is one of the places where you can place your bag in the upcoming fairway) and from the 16th green to the 17th tee. I would rate it a 4.0 for walking, but the altitude can be intimidating. Incidentally, it is easier to carry your bag than it is to take a push cart because of the rolling nature of the course.
As far as aesthetics, one man’s beauty is another’s “Whazzat?”, but Battlement Mesa has a contingent of golden eagles living on the bluffs below the course, a significant population of wild turkeys (one of the bunkers adjoining the 14th green is a notorious wild turkey mating ground), and a herd of elk which sometimes cross the course on its way from the cedar break in which it lives to the river. On a clear day you can see 50 miles down river and somewhat less upriver. I would give it a 4.0 on the aesthetics, but then I really like the place.
As to playability and strategy there are four tees on each hole and the course can play from roughly 5,500 to 7,400 yards, which is about 5,150 to 6,900 in sea level yardage. There is only one forced carry, which is only from the back tees on the 11th hole. The greens are large and have multiple hole locations. The superintendant seems to find a couple of new ones per hole every year. There are plenty of risk reward tee shots on the four-pars. The three-pars are all different lengths. The longest can be anything from a driver to a six iron from the tips for a 10-12 handcapper, depending on the wind.
The wind contributes greatly to strategy and playability at Battlement Mesa. It is a completely different course in the morning than it is in the afternoon. The wind usually starts the day blowing down the river, roughly northeast to southwest. Around noon, it will turn and blow in precisely the opposite direction. On occassion, there are the days when it just swirls unpredictably. The strength of the wind varies depending on time of day and time of year, with late afternoon gusts in the summer getting up around 35 miles an hour. All things considered, a 2.0 for strategy and playability in my opinion.
It is the consensus that Battlement Mesa is the best course in Western Colorado, an area which is replete with highly honored, excellent, though damned near unwalkable golf courses, many Jim Engh designs.
Battlement opened in 1987 and was an “Honorable Mention” on Golf Digest’s best new public course list that year. Since they only picked a “best course” and gave out 2 “honorable mentions” that was high praise at the time.
Based on The Walking Golfer Course Rating criteria, I would give Battlement Mesa a 9.5 out of 10.
Review by Stuart Jones (March, 2009)
The Walking Golfer Course Rating System
Total is out of 10 Points
0 – 4 points – Walkability
0 – 4 points – Architecture and Aesthetics
0 – 2 points – Playability and Strategy