Perfect storm of fantastic golf on the horizon at Aspen Lakes

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Already in excellent condition, fall rates are now on the horizon

Within each Aspen Lakes golf season comes a sweet spot. A time when peak golf conditions, smaller crowds, fantastically mild weather, and budget-friendly fall rates come together to create a perfect storm of great golf.

By the fall, Aspen Lakes’ peak conditions have been around for months. But now the summer tourist season is a memory. And sunny, pleasant weather is the norm. Beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 12, fall rates kick in, too, creating a narrow window that lasts until the weather turns.

“There really is no better time of the year to come out and play than right now,” said Rob Malone, director of golf for Aspen Lakes. “This is the time of year when we see a lot of local players, because they know well just how good this part of the season can be for golf.”

One of the values of fall golf comes with the adjustment of what constitutes prime time. In the summer, the mornings are the most desirable tee times, obviously as a way to beat the summer heat.

The fall is different though. With cooler overnight temperatures, the afternoons become more prized with highs that average in the high 60s this time of year.

That syncs well with our rates, which drop by $10 at 1 p.m. and another $16 after 3 p.m.

“I love playing in the afternoons in fall,” Malone said. “The weather is typically great, and the course is at its most beautiful as evening begins to approach. It is a really peaceful time to be out here.”

Aerification, a process that is critical to the long-term health of the turf, of Aspen Lakes greens begins on Oct. 17. Despite its importance to the golf course, the term “aerification” can send chills up the spine of a fall golfer.

But golfers can rest assured that the aerification process at Aspen Lakes is far less obtrusive than it once was.

The Aspen Lakes maintenance staff punches much smaller holes, making the holes less noticeable and more playable when the greens reopen. Plus, the staff now uses a drag brush, which allows the maintenance crew to use less sand to top dress the greens and apply it more evenly than a more conventional metal drag.

Finally, the staff will roll the greens and irrigate well to get the sand into the punched holes and smooth the surfaces.

“Our aerification process is about as nonintrusive as you can get,” said Josh Knapp, superintendent at Aspen Lakes Golf Course. “We always try hard to balance the needs of the turf with the playability of the golf course.”

Aspen Lakes will remain on summer rates through Oct. 11. Beginning Oct. 12, primetime green fees will drop to $48 per round, which is a $30 discount off of Aspen Lakes’ prime summer rates. Nine holes can be played for $28. (Prices do not include cart or GolfBoard rentals.)

To book a tee time, call 541-549-GOLF or book online at www.aspenlakes.com.

 

Short putts make easy path to fewer strokes

Howie Pruitt suggests simple drill to improve your accuracy inside 8 feet

Every golfer, from beginner to grizzled PGA Tour veteran, asks the same question: “How can I save strokes on the golf course?” The question is the very essence of golf.

Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is actually quite simple.

“You gain strokes with your putter,” Howie Pruitt, Aspen Lakes director of player development, says flatly.

The path to better putting is nearly as simple. In fact, success can often be found by improving your performance on the easiest shots in a given round: putts inside 8 feet.

Yet, short putts are a skill few amateur golfers pay much mind to. They should. Working on these putts is not particularly complicated and it can pay huge dividends on the scorecard.

A time-tested drill begins on a flat piece of practice putting green. Set up four balls around a hole, each set about 4 feet away. Then work your way around each ball, trying to make each putt.

If you make all four putts, then set up four more balls, this time 8 feet away from the hole. If at any point you miss, you must start over with four new balls set 4 feet away.

The drill might sound overly simplistic, but it actually helps golfers improve in two ways.

“What it does is build confidence for you,” Pruitt says. “It also helps you deal with some of the stress on the golf course. I assure you that when you get to putt No. 4, and you’ve made three, you won’t want to start over again. So there is a pressure to make that fourth putt.”

The drill is nothing new. In fact, some of the best in the game have made the drill a cornerstone of their work on the greens.

“Phil Mickelson is an example. He will come out here and keep doing it until he makes 100 in a row,” Pruitt says. “I’ve never made more than 15 or 20 in a row, so I can only imagine what it’s like to come out here and make 100 4-footers.”

Give it a try and see how many you can make.

Private, group lessons, classes and clinics with Pruitt are all available through the Aspen Lakes PGA Learning Center. Call the Aspen Lakes pro shop at 541-549-4653 for more information. To book a tee time call the golf shop or book online.