The Allure of South Fork’s Rio Grande Club & Resort.
The South Fork Visitor Center sign advertises the small southwest Colorado town as “Your Basecamp for Adventure.” With skiing at nearby Wolf Creek, fly-fishing along the Rio Grande and South Fork River, hiking the Weminuche Wilderness, and dozens of other year-round pursuits (including visiting the historic mining town of Creede), this unspoiled corner of the San Juan Mountains is more than lives up to its motto. And since your adventure checklist includes golf, there’s no better place to set up camp in South Fork than the Rio Grande Club & Resort.
A Grande Tour
The semi-private club, which opened in 2002, welcomes public play on its 7,155-yard course designed by Ric Buckton and Jay Benson of Redstone Golf. Pre-Memorial Day, tee times run between $79 and $109; during the summer, they jump to $99-$159. Framed by ponderosa pines, scrub oak, and aspen, Rio Grande’s front nine flows along and across the club’s trout-filled namesake on holes three through eight. “There are a couple of ‘angler beware’ holes,” superintendent Bill Tanner jokes, singling out the par-3 sixth, which requires a long-iron\ iron to carry over the rushing Rio. The layout shifts from riparian to alpine as it climbs a verdant ridgeline on the back nine. Plunging tee shots await on the par-4 11th, par-3 12th, and drivable par-4 17th. It foreshadows the 200-foot drop from tee to the fairway on the long, par-5 18th that curls sinisterly around the lake fronting the clubhouse. The 25,000-square-foot clubhouse fitness center, spa, sauna, and locker rooms fill the space. The club also boasts a pool, tennis and pickleball courts, and a fishing lodge. gives diners in the Big River Grille and Timbers Restaurant big views of the San Juan Mountains and Rio Grande National Forest. Conference rooms, a fitness center, spa, sauna, and locker rooms fill the space. The club also boasts a pool, tennis and pickleball courts, and a fishing lodge.
If you drive four hours from the Front Range to play golf, you’ll want to partake in those other amenities—and many of them are available only to golf members and their guests. However, some members have purchased one of the 24 townhomes along the club’s par-5 third hole, which sits mere steps from the fishing lodge and its mile of private fly-fishing access. The club manages and rents out half of these well-appointed units for their member-owners (the other half are bookable through Vacasa and AirBnB). Depending on the townhome owner’s membership level (Golf, Angling, and Sport, Social), access to golf, fishing, and club amenities will either be included (the “Stay & Play” package) or additional (the “Rio Grande Club Experience”). Rio Grande’s membership spiked by 30 percent in 2021. Initiation runs $7,000, and dues run $440 per month. Only about half of the 200 total members are “full golf.” Still, they’re passionate and enjoy the technology that new PGA Head Professional Adam Perko has introduced to a tournament and tee-time management. “This might be their second home, but their golf season is here,” he says. “They’ve asked me about fittings and equipment and lessons, so we’re going to do it all.” It’s an adventure on which he’s more than happy to guide them.