Nicklaus has his name on more than a few of Colorado's most prestigious High Country courses — the Summit Course at Cordillera in Edwards is another prime example of his alpine expertise — but ask head PGA pro Erroll Miller and he'll tell you Breckenridge is special, particularly the Beaver Course.
Built in 1987, the Beaver is one of the club's two original nines, finished just two years after the Bear Course. The Beaver is easily the narrowest course at Breckenridge, filled with tight, straight fairways lined on both sides by marshy wetlands. Add plenty of bunkers, relatively small greens and, of course, beaver ponds, and it can be an unforgiving nine for golfers without pinpoint accuracy.
But once the mechanics are dialed in, Miller says the course is a hidden gem. And one of the finest examples comes at the very end with Hole 9, itself a hidden gem.
BEAVER HOLE 9
PAR 3 | 195 YARDS (MEN), 120 YARDS (WOMEN)
Why does Erroll love the often-overlooked Hole 9? Two words: bragging rights.
"On any par 3, there's always the opportunity for the hole-in-one," says Erroll, who's been club pro since Bear opened in 1985. "That's one thing I like about it. If you have the pin hunted and the shot in your bag, go for it. Then you have something to brag about for the rest of your life."
Beaver Hole 9 is made for glory shots, or at least glory attempts. The green is large and slightly downhill from the tee box, with hardly any blind spots on the approach.
But an otherwise simple approach is complicated by hazards, including a beaver pond in the front and two bunkers lining the green. Miller terms it an "island green" in the mountains — lay it short and you're in the water, play it long and you're in the sand, with very little room for error.
And that's not all: Given the hole's location — it sits high over the surrounding valley with gorgeous views of north Tenmile Range — wind is a constant enemy. When playing from the back tees, it can swirl and gust, similar to playing at Augusta National in Georgia.
Yet with the right touch, a hole-in-one is always an option and a birdie is more than manageable. Just be ready to pay up if you can't quite find the middle of the green.
"It's a nine hole that can be a money hole when there are wagers on the line," Miller says. "You don't just want to throw it away. Play smart, and when there are wagers on the line, play to the middle."
Pro tip: Be careful with club selection. Common knowledge says to club down for an elevation drop, but don't forget the unpredictable wind. Miller throws grass in the air three or four times before his shot to gauge the wind direction and speed.