Fossil Trace: Superb historic municipal golf in Golden, Colorado

GOLDEN, Colo. -- Fossil Trace Golf Club, located just outside of Denver adjacent to the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front Range, opened in 2003, about 64 million years after the first dinosaurs walked there where holes 11 through 15 now sit.

Triceratops footprints, as well as other prehistoric creatures' fossils can be viewed adjacent to the 12th green. Located just inside the main doors is an exhibit that details the rich history of the property and shares information about the dinosaur tracks and other important fossils uncovered on the site.

For golfers, however, just as important is that this Jim Engh design is one of the best public golf courses in Colorado. From the back tees at 6,831 yards, it's all the golf course you want, despite the altitude. There's a very short hole, the 96-yard fifth and a very long hole, the 659-yard ninth and all sorts of varieties in between.

Aside from the dinosaurs, the site has more historical significance. The entire area was a working farm with cows, hay fields and fruit orchards. In the early days, a boys school also housed a blacksmith, laundry and tailor, plumbing and vocational shops which were used by area townspeople. And on the back nine are the remains of the Rockwell Mine which was mined by George W. Parfet (downtown Golden park is named after him) beginning in 1877. His heirs continued to mine clay, used for brick making, until 2001. After removing the clay, all that remained was the sandstone column which exposed the triceratops footprints near the 12th green and hadrosaurs' footprints just west along the crusher fine walk path. The path and split rail fence were put in place as part of a Boy Scout Eagle Badge project, which allows for paths to access the area without stepping onto the golf course.

Aug 14, 2015

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Mike Bailey

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trio to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.