Pillars of the Twelfth

Located just twenty minutes from Denver, Fossil Trace Golf Club is a course that challenges the mental game of every player.  With plenty of risk/reward (go for it on 2, aim for the back left pin on 6, try to drive number 10…) it behooves a golfer to know what they want to accomplish before every shot.  With elevation changes, undulating  greens that don’t have a prevalent break, beautiful scenery stimulating the senses, elk, deer, coyotes, and hawks all roaming the course (occasionally pausing for a perfect photo op), Fossil Trace has the feel of a mountain course.  All these pleasant distractions can take a golfer’s focus away, or, with the right mindset, help rejuvenate a round.  When you’re out playing the course, take a moment to look around.  Breathe in the atmosphere and enjoy your surroundings.   Relish in the fact that you’re in the metro area, but away from it all.

Once you’ve acclimated yourself to the unique experience of Fossil Trace, the next step is to actually golf.  As mentioned, the course puts a premium on the mental aspect of the game, and this can clearly be seen when standing on the tee box of number twelve.  There is trouble down the entire right side of the hole, and a giant cliff wall that goes down the left.  Located in a tiny opening between the rocks the green is guarded in the front by a deep bunker, falls off into native on the backside and has a large ridge dividing it into two distinct sections.  All of these factors would make number 12 extremely intimidating, but there’s more; three giant pillars in the fairway can induce frustration and fear, but should be a catalyst for creativity.  After hitting the drive to the middle of the fairway, there are many options for how to play the rest of the hole.  Take the safe route, figuring out the distance over the first pillar leaving 140 yards or so in.  Risk it a bit, hitting as much as you can to the end of the fairway, or the greenside bunker, leaving a short wedge shot.  You could try smashing a three wood over the fossils and try to bounce it off the awning and onto the green, which isn’t recommended as you’ll likely lose your ball in the native.  If you do get stymied behind one of the pillars, laugh first, and then maybe try one of my favorite summer shots by banking it off the cliff wall.

Winter is coming and brings with it a stark contrast in how to play the course.  The ground firms up allowing for more distance off the tee, but it might be best to try a bump and run into the greens as they aren’t quite as receptive as summer time.  Fossil Trace stays open year round allowing golfers to play unique shots and test the mental aspect of their game.  A personal favorite is when the lake on number ten freezes over.  Try hitting a six iron at the flag and the ball will bounce all the way across the lake.  This does tend to leave one of the more interesting shots encountered at Fossil Trace, a lob wedge off the lake.  Wherever your round here takes you, stay sharp, stay focused and remember that the best way to do both is to have fun!

Nicholas J Borgeson, Assistant Professional