Tee-Off Time Arrives For Another Links Season at Woodland Park’s Shining Mountain

Rick Langenberg

Links’ fever has struck and the Shining Mountain Golf Course and Event Center has officially opened for the 2021 season.

Currently, the challenging 18-hole course in Woodland Park is only open for walking, and is contingent on weather conditions, but that scenario is expected to change shortly.  The course and club management will feature some familiar faces, but will sport definite improvements, with a new head pro and director of golf, new tee markers, vastly superior greens for this time of year, along with additional yardage on the back nine.

“We are really looking forward to the season,” said Amy Fuller, the general manager of Shining Mountain. Fuller is a familiar face, who has worked with Shining Mountain since 2016, and has much experience with area restaurants.

Last year, she served as club’s assistant general manager.

“I really know how this place works.  We made a lot of improvements last year, and want to continue with the improvements we made,” said Fuller.

Golfers will be quite impressed with the quality of the course for this time of year, with new tee markers and well-conditioned greens. In fact, some of the putting services rival those of the recent Masters tournament.

“Our greens’ crew has done a great job.  They really take care of this place,” said Fuller.

The crew is headed by Tom and Dustin Hedwell, who know the course better than most people know their own backyard.

The course, regarded as one of the most challenging small tracks in the state, listed once by Golf Digest as one of the top places to golf on “your bucket list, “will increase slightly in length. It will now sport a par-71 track, instead of a par-70 layout.

The 16th hole has a new tee area and has been reconverted back to a scenic par-5. In the early years of Shining Mountain, the 16th was viewed as  a player favorite.

This change will certainly receive a warm welcome by area linksters, who always struggled, with the awkward par-4 format of the hole, which originally was changed due to a proposed housing development that never became a reality. Alas, the ongoing invasion of lost tee shots on this hole may get abated slightly, (unless  TMJ staff members and related hackers are involved.)

This added change will turn the back nine into a par-37 track; and in this writer’s opinion, ranks as probably one of the best nines in the Pikes Peak area.

Carts are expected to arrive shortly.  Currently, the course is open for tee-times from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weather permitting. Interested players can book a tee-time online, or by calling 719-687-7587.  Arranging tee times is much easier than the courses in Colorado Springs, which have significant coronavirus tee-time setting restrictions at public venues.

The Shining Mountain course also will be led by a new head pro, Ryan Mahlstadt, who sports previous experience at the Breckenridge golf course and at the Deer Creek Golf Club.  “Ryan knows mountain courses really well and has some great ideas,” said Fuller.

This is the first time Shining Mountain has featured a golf pro in some time. Mahlstadt will assume the role too of giving golf lessons and grappling with some ugly swings that need tended to immediately.

The course is also ready to kick off league play for a variety of groups, including a men’s and women’s league and a senior’s group. Plus,  many tournaments and fund-raiser galas that got canceled in 2020  due to the coronavirus epidemic are now back on the schedule.

The course also will play host to a variety of top junior events.  It has reigned as the home course for the Woodland Park High School golf team, which has captured much praise for their amazing level of improvement over the last decade, with a number of WP players competing in the annual state championship.  In addition, the course will cater to a women’s golf school team from Colorado Springs. “We are going to support them any way we can,” said Fuller, in regards to Shining Mountain helping out a women’s high school golf program.

Nationwide, golf has experienced a huge interest among women and young girls. In fact, during the pandemic, golf became one of the real growth sports on a recreational basis across the country.

Besides traditional golf, Shining Mountain offers three, disc golf courses, and has hosted some of the premiere state championships for frisbee linksters. It also prides itself as offering one of the few disc golf tracks in the state that runs along parts of a regular, traditional course.

Shining Mountain Bar and Restaurant

Shining Mountain, though, is much more than about golf. SM is known as one of the best places to hang out in the community, and to enjoy a drink and snack, and embrace the stellar views of Pikes Peak from the deck.

The Shining Mountain bar operation is headed by Jacob Neal, who has worked at SM in the past.  Currently, Shining Mountain offers drinks, snacks and quick food items, such as prepared sandwiches, hot dogs, brats and nachos.

The restaurant is expected to open in the near future. A variety of plans are being mulled for the restaurant. Fuller says the restaurant will serve a golf course-like culinary fare and may offer weekend dinners.

A new kitchen staff has been assembled.

“The quality of the food we offer is something we want to improve,” said the general manager.

But more than anything, Fuller said Shining Mountain will continue its reputation as a key community hub during the golf season.  Last season, the club opened its facilities up more to community groups.  This same tradition will continue this year and will only improve, without the COVID-19 albatross hanging over the poplar links, a mainstay of Woodland Park since 1995.

And with the COVID restrictions easing, Shining Mountain will become a prime spot for weddings and a variety of events.

The Teller County commissioners recently announced plans to do away with the COVID color-dial restrictions, which will allow Shining Mountain to return to a full capacity level.

For more information about Shining Mountain, call 719-687-7587 or visit their web site at www.shiningmountaingolf.com.