Ballyneal Golf Club

Ballyneal Golf Club – Played June 2017

  • Rankings: Golf Digest #78, Golf Magazine #40
  • Location: 1 Ballyneal Lane, Holyoke, Colorado
  • Year: 2006
  • Architect: Tom Doak
  • Course Access: Private
  • Walking Rules: Walking Only, Caddies Available

Score Card Information:

  • Various: 5,210 – 7,147 yards, Par 71 , Not Rated

After the fun was over in Nebraska, I hopped in the car and made my way into Colorado.  I was on my way to Ballyneal!  You can tell from the scorecard information above that this place is a little different.  No set tees and and situated in the middle of nowhere.  The experience is set to be memorable.  

About 5 miles out the road goes to dirt and I had flashbacks to my Forest Dunes experience.  The GPS was spot on though and I arrived at the entrance sign below.

Once you get up a pretty large hill you get a view of the complex.

Plenty has been written about Ballyneal and its founding by the O’Neal brothers so I won’t rehash all of that here, but the general story is simple.  The course needed to be awesome based on its location.  The surrounding town wouldn’t have enough people to fill the membership so the course needed to draw in folks from all over.  Well with a Tom Doak course on a great piece of land the mission has been accomplished.

I got to experience the membership and staff firsthand and I was blown away.  I came in on the day of The Hundred Hole Hike so the course was busy.  People couldn’t have been more gracious.  Truly spectacular.

Anyway, I was getting to stay in the guest accommodations seen below.  Mine was the one on the top right.  This is The Meadowlark and I just saw it featured in Golf Digest as one of the best places to stay in golf.  I certainly enjoyed it.

My room afforded a nice view of the understated driving range.

The putting green here is probably the most undulating I have ever seen.  The contours here will get you ready for the course.

Hole 1 – 320-382 yards – Par 4

So you will notice the range in yardages.  At Ballyneal you pick where you want to play basically.  Due to that, I won’t have any exact yardage numbers for you.  The first is wide open.  I chose to hit long iron off this tee.

You start to see the wonderful ground movement on in the first fairway.  Get used to that.  The fairway blends into the green so much that it is sometimes difficult to see the change from a long way out.

Most of the greens are quite large and undulating.  Your lag putting will be tested.

Hole 2 – 360-490 yards – Par 4

The tee shot here is to a blind landing area.  I don’t remember the exact line off the tee, but there is much more room out there than it seems.

Below is the view of the rumpled fairway.

As you move towards the green you get a view of the great bunkering and how the fairway melds into the green.

Hole 3 – 90-145 yards – Par 3

I got to see a buddy on the way to the third hole.

Every good architect should be able to incorporate the short par three into their arsenal.  This one is a great one that plays downhill.

Hole 4 – 360-573 yards – Par 5

This is the million dollar view at Ballyneal!  The super elevated tee provides for some hang time on your tee shots.  The fairway is very wide as you can see.

The landing area has massive sloping that adds to the character of the hole.

As you get closer in for your third shot you see the elevated green with bunkers to the right.  Anything short of the surface or with a lot of spin will most likely suck back down the fairway and leave you an awkward pitch shot.

I was lucky enough to stick one close and get a birdie.  No shutout on this day!

Hole 5 – 110-165 yards – Par 3

A relatively flat one-shotter is presented here.  The front bunker is no place to be if you want a par.

This is one of the tamer greens of the 18.

Hole 6 – 370-480 yards – Par 4

The hole bends slightly to the left with sand on both sides.  A draw fits best here.

The approach is uphill to the green guarded by a massive bunker on the left.

The green features a rumpled surface.  If you get in the wrong spot a two putt is difficult.

Hole 7 – 285-352 yards – Par 4

This hole really depends on the yardage.  It can certainly be driveable and the slope accentuates that fact.  You have so many options on club choice here.  Great hole.

The fairway slopes down and acts as a funnel toward the green.  Birdies can be had here.

Hole 8 – 340-515 yards – Par 5

This uphill par five has one of the tougher tee shots.  If you are committed to three shots you can lay back with a more comfortable club,

The view once in the fairway.

The crazy contouring of the green begins to come into focus the closer you get.  Like the rest of the course this piece of land is quite unique.

The very narrow green will test your putting ability.  Say a prayer if you are in that back bunker.

Hole 9 – 315-362 yards – Par 4

The land plays some visual tricks with the slope and makes judging distance difficult.  The fairway narrows when you get to the top of the hill so an accurate drive is needed here.

As you crest the hill.

The green sits in a bowl, but the surface itself is not that shape.  The slope from right to left is visible below.

Hole 10 – 380-509 yards – Par 4

The back starts with a slightly elevated tee.  A good line here is just to the left of the bunker on the right.

The fairway opens up after the tee shot providing a good look at the green.  The shot requires a little more club due to the elevated green.

Here is a look back down the hole.

Hole 11 – 125-200 yards – Par 3

Choose your tee and anything from wedge to long iron for this one.  It is slightly uphill with more rough that we’ve seen so far on the course.

Like many holes the green is large.  Your lag putting needs to be on here.

Hole 12 – 240-375 yards – Par 4

Lots of trusting on this hole as you can’t see the entire landing area or the green.  Trust your caddie on the line.

The green is hidden by the fairway mounding.  Thankfully you can see a bit of the flag.

Another crazy, awesome green.  Just look at the contour.  If you have a more interesting day putting somewhere else I want to hear about it.

Hole 13 – 330-510 yards – Par 4

You get some serious fairway mounds here and the large bunkers you’ve by now grown accustomed to.  The green here is massive, but pretty flat compared to the others.

Hole 14 – 300-362 yards – Par 4

it may look like it bends to the right, but the green is actually tucked back to the left.

The approach is to a small green that can get testy if you miss.  The tightly mown turf can send misses back down the hill.

Hole 15 – 135-237 yards – Par 3

Great atmosphere on this hole as it feels a bit like a stadium.  A big ridge is about 40 yard short of the green and if you barely carry it the down slope can give you a kick forward.

This look at the green shows the obvious contours.

Hole 16 – 410-546 yards – Par 5

This hole really depends on the tee you’re playing.  The bend is to the left and is usually a three shot hole from the tips.

The view on the second shot can appear very narrow.  Did I mention trusting the caddies?

The fairway makes its way back up the hill towards the green fronted by a nasty bunker.

I had the good fortune to get a try at this bunker.

This is a nasty little pin as you can see all the slope on this green.  You definitely want to have a good angle here.

Hole 17 – 365-481 yards – Par 4

It looks like the fairway is just floating out there.  This is a long, tough hole that bends slightly to the right.  A good drive is objective number one!

The view below as you make your way around the corner.

The photos below show the large scale of the green.  Getting your approach to the front, left corner is the best option.

Hole 18 – 375-463 yards – Par 4

This one can be a brute, especially if you are playing in the summer heat.  Drives slightly to the right will trail off that way leaving longer approach shots.  The bunkers on the left are partially able to be carried, but it gets more difficult the farther left you go.

The approach is up the hill to a very steep back to front green.  Take an extra club.

It’s funny because on some of these greens you can barely get them into the frame.

What a special experience Ballyneal was.  I got it on a very warm day and was a bit beat up from the walk, but I enjoyed it all the same.  It is such a unique track and makes you think from start to finish.  I’d love to get it in the fall with some cooler temps.  From the welcoming staff, friendly members, and beautiful scenery I highly recommend visiting!  I’ve included some extra pics from me walking around the property.  Enjoy!

And as always, check out the slideshow below.

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2 thoughts on “Ballyneal Golf Club

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