Fossil Trace is a golf enigma. It’s a city course, but with country club conditions. It has a restaurant, but it’s really a gourmet restaurant with an incredible menu and view. Not what you would expect at a municipal facility. And, it’s only 19 minutes from downtown Denver.
Start with the fact that Fossil Trace is precisely that, a golf course laid out amid dinosaur and fossil beds. In fact, the main hallway has fossils from the property, many of which are better than many museums. The second factor is the land meanders up, down, around and all over the hogback hills so that no two holes are alike. You need all the shots in the bag while you get visually exciting and pleasing views. Many of the holes have a natural backdrop of the mesas or the hogback hills. You might even hear a T-Rex on that birdie put. Well, almost.
The first hole is typical of Fossil Trace. A par five, where the first shot is a placement shot. The reason: they kept an old incinerator chimney in the middle of the fairway. So you have to meander and calculate your next chance. The par four holes really get Einstein thinking as the elevation changes and direction changes require a little strategy. Then you get to the famous par-five 12th, which runs through the hogback formations. Right at the green is a short walkway where you can see the fossils, which can also be seen from the 13th tee box. And the last hole, the par five, 18th is a classic with risk and reward and of course, a lake.
The on-site restaurant is just as exemplary as Schnepf’s is not typical of a food outlet at a public golf course. The restaurant has always been a separate operation, and this last operator may be the best one yet. This is best described as after-golf sports bar meets creative gourmet cuisine.
You can get something simple, but elegant for the course like the pork belly Rueben with red cabbage. Cocktails after golf really get a creative jolt. Take the Art of the Storm – a potent combination of dark rum, molasses, ginger beer, and lime. Something a little sweeter is the Fresca Forte with tequila, strawberry, lime and smoked salt. Yes, you can get a beer, but why when you have these exotic choices?
For a seated lunch or dinner, the food choices are more significant than you would expect at a golf course, both in number and culinary inspiration. When was the last time you got Black Mussels in a curry/coconut cream sauce with scallion slaw and cashews? Probably not. Handmade ravioli with almonds and peas? You bet. Most of the time the restaurants at golf courses are not a separate draw in the community, but Schnepf’s is that different.