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Top Tips for Fall Golf in Vail

The picturesque town of Vail, Colorado, is known internationally for its fantastic scenery at an elevation of 8,150 feet and the largest ski mountain in the state, Vail Ski Resort.

So, if you thought visiting Vail was about shopping, skiing, and scintillating meals, you were right, but the town is also a wonderful place to experience great golf at multiple courses nearby. Vail prides itself on luxurious accommodations with early-booking discounts, extended-stay deals, and stay-and-play golf packages, including the premier golf courses down-valley with up to 30% off green fees!

As the cooler weather rolls in, it is important to know how your golf game may change depending on the time of year. Golfers will love Vail Valley’s higher-altitude golf, such as hero-like added distance, but everyone should learn the top tips for fall golf in Vail that follows!

1. Choose the Right Tee Time

Couple teeing off in Vail with fall foliage.
Teeing off in Vail with spectacular fall foliage.

You’ll find fewer crowds during the fall season, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon on a chilly day. Your favorite time to play might still dictate the tee time you choose, but other fall activities during your stay may impact your choices.

Mid-day tee times will be warmest, but may cut into your other plans, so instead of your usual 7 a.m. slot, consider sleeping in a little later and starting at 8 or 9. Sometimes you want to skip the crowded course and have an early (and chilly) tee time, but your warmth will thank you later.  Make sure you give your body a chance to get used to the weather before you take off for the first tee.

Cool Weather Preparation

  • Warm up – Cool weather impacts our joints and muscles, so stretch gently before that first round of golf.
  • Range balls – Aligning your swing with a bucket of golf balls is helpful, but you may want to skip the added time before an early tee time in the cold. Hitting a bucket in the warmer sunshine of an afternoon start may make more sense.
  • Abbreviated swing – You may notice a shortened swing in cool weather. This is a natural response of your body to the weather. Instead of fighting it, use the change to improve your clubface impact with the ball for more precision.
  • Time your arrival – Being on time always helps, but having time for a stretch, some practice and a hot drink never hurts. Give yourself a bonus by getting into the clubhouse or pro shop for ten minutes before you tee off to warm up.

It’ll be warmest between 11 am and 4 pm, and most courses offer twilight rates after 3 pm with great twilight discounts and fantastic sunsets.

2. Dress for the Occasion: Fall Weather Golf Attire

Male golfer hitting golf ball on Vail Golf Club course in autumn.
Layer up for fall weather while golfing in Vail this autumn.

Staying warm will make your Vail golf excursion an overall better time, starting with warm shoes and socks. Gloves and hand warmers are also great additions. Make sure you’ve got pockets.

Layering is your friend in cool weather. A heavy jacket won’t work, so start closer to the skin with warm thermal underwear or leggings and pants.

Tucking shirts into your pants will keep cool air from creeping in during your golf swing. Long sleeve shirts or golf pullovers are also great for insulation against the elements.

Don’t let the cool crisp weather confuse you! You’ll still need a sunshade. Sunblock at high altitude is never wrong. A hat and sunglasses are necessary to protect your eyes and keep your body warmth from escaping.

You may not notice that you’re exerting yourself and losing fluid through sweat, but you are! Stay hydrated.

Coffee is great for warming up in cool weather. Sports drinks with electrolytes and energy drinks are fine too, but plain water will likely do the trick.

3. Bring Extra Socks and Hand Warmers

Some players tense up when they grip their clubs because their hands get cold. Keeping the proper grip and using your fingers instead of gripping the club like a baseball bat will keep your swing aligned with your target.

Wearing at least one golf glove helps retain heat, and if you’re prone to cold hands, you can wear over-mittens or slip-on warm winter mittens for a few minutes before your next swing.

Battery-operated or rechargeable warmers work fine, but Heat Pax and HotHands brand one-use warmers are inexpensive and last up to 10 hours. Several brands are also available for keeping your toes warm!

Having an extra pair of socks can keep the piggies warm too. Some players wear two pairs while playing but bulking up your feet may not be perfect for your golf shoes. However, there’s nothing wrong with warming your feet up a little at the turn when you grab some hot tea, coffee, or lunch – and replacing your cold, damp socks with a fresh warm pair.

4. Use a Different Club than Normal

Closeup image of golf clubs in a golf bag.
Your ball flies farther at altitude, so try using a different club while golfing in Vail.

In the cool, elevated, rarified air of fall golf in Vail, your physical efforts translate to greater distance. If you usually drive 250 yards off the tee, you can expect to see soaring golf shots of 275 and even 300 yards – especially when you play a course like Vail Golf Club, where several fairways are flat, and you’ll get the added bounce and roll from the harder ground.

Usually, in colder weather, you want to add a club length, but with the high elevation in Vail, you will end up dropping a club length. On flat fairways and warm days, you may need to consider club selection even more carefully.

Distance and selection may be significant for shots leading to fairway hazards and the occasional decision about wedge shots. You may want to take short, high loft shots with your highest pitch club instead of an intermediate loft club to go pin high and keep your ball from drifting past the green.

Also, remember to keep your beloved golf clubs in your hotel room or inside overnight. Leaving them in the car during severe drops in weather can damage them.

Wide tee boxes and large, contoured smooth greens make the par-71 course a pleasure to play, whether you are riding a golf bike, a cart, or enjoying the fun ride of a golf scooter!

5. Try Walking: Exercise is a Great Way to Warm Up

Golfers walking the Vail Golf Club course in autumn.
Walking the Vail Golf Club course offers great exercise and stunning views.

Words to live by for terrific fall golf in Vail start with “keep moving.” Avoid the temptation to linger at scenic points too long (do take a peek at the beautiful fall leaves) and finish your round quickly, even if you warm up at the turn with a beverage or lunch snack.

Another idea to enhance your golf experience and warmth is to walk the course with a hand cart instead of a riding golf cart. Hand carts allow you to have all your clubs with you for each shot and give you more time to concentrate on club selection and shot direction before you approach your ball.

Recognized by Golf Digest as a “Top 100 Resort Course,” Vail Golf Club is Vail Valley’s most walkable course. The spectacularly scenic 18-hole public course sits uniquely below the Gore Range with holes that follow Gore Creek.

All facilities, including the full-service pro shop, are directed by the 2021 Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year, Alice Plain. The pro shop is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm with free parking at the Vail Golf and Nordic Clubhouse along Sunburst Drive in Vail.

The facilities include a spacious driving range and a practice area to prepare for your round that offers a 4:07 pace of play. The par-71 course features 6766 yards from the black tees with a slope of 152 and a 77.6 rating.

The golf season runs from May 1 to November 1, with rental carts, clubs, and green fees ranging from $35 to $129. Metal spikes are not allowed. Golf bikes are also available. Tee times can be booked 14-days in advance.

And don’t forget the Grill on the Gore Restaurant located in the clubhouse – featuring daily signature soup and chili to keep you nice and warm.

6. Have Realistic Expectations

Fall foliage on Sonnenalp Golf Club course in Vail.
Fall foliage on the Sonnenalp Golf Club course in Edwards. Courtesy of Sonnenalp Golf Club.

No matter how much extra distance you gain from Vail Valley’s high-altitude golf courses, the cool fall weather may steal some of those yards back. So will layered clothes and body stiffness can also impact precision.

So, don’t beat yourself up if your game isn’t at its peak during the fall season. Have realistic expectations, including the occasional higher score, and enjoy the challenges and spectacular scenery Vail, Colorado provides.

Then, work consistently on any weaknesses you find in your golf game while freeing yourself to take more chances on difficult shots and putts. Being open to new experiences releases tension, helping you enjoy your round while also helping your golf swing.

At Red Sky Golf Course near Vail, you’ll find two par-72 courses, designed by Tom Fazio (7.116 yards with spectacularly colorful fall aspen groves) and Greg Norman (7.580 yards with sunflower meadows and sunsets high lighting Castle Peak), ranked in the “Top 20 Golf Courses” by Golf Digest.

Although Red Sky is a membership club, members and guests can access each course and their respective clubhouses on alternate days.

The Sonnenalp Club is a semi-private golf and fitness club featuring an 18-hole championship golf course for members and guests of the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail. The beautifully appointed course runs 7,100 yards to 5,293 yards depending on your choice of four tee positions and offers unlimited play for members seven days a week.

Fall golf in Vail is spectacularly scenic with smaller crowds and better rates. Book your fall tee time today!