by Mikaela Ruland
As the snow melts away and the days grow longer, Copper Mountain doesn’t go into hibernation. The grounds crew spends the late spring months transforming the winter wonderland we all know and love into a different kind of wonderland.
Familiar catwalks become fairways, lift lines become tees. The only reminder of winter, the chairlifts above.
Welcome to Copper Creek Golf Course.
Golf Pro Zach Dobrota lifts a hand in greeting as our golf cart passes the beverage cart. We brake to a stop as someone takes a shot and then continue down the cart path towards Dobrota’s favorite hole, #17. Here, the fairway and the towering pines form a picture frame, the nearby peaks standing proudly.
It’s the atmosphere of this golf course that Dobrota loves the most. Having spent the early part of his career moving from golf club to golf club each season, Dobrota is a good judge of character. Copper Creek isn’t a country club style golf course. Here, it’s not about the status, not about coming to the course to be seen. Everybody at Copper Creek is there to play golf and enjoy doing so. At Copper Creek, there aren’t any frills. Nobody takes anything too seriously. Sometimes, there’s even music on the golf course.
Dobrota grew up in Ohio playing golf with his uncle, who was always up for a game, and fell in love with the sport. In Summit County, he found a place where he could stay year round. June through September, he works at the golf course doing a little bit of everything. He keeps the retail shop squared away, he teaches clinics and private lessons and on Wednesdays, he does scoring and running for the leagues. In the winter, he works at Racer’s Edge, a ski shop in the neighboring town of Breckenridge.
“The less I sit still, the more time I’m outside, the happier I am,” he admits.
Besides the obvious - golf - Dobrota does whatever he can to get outside and Copper Mountain is the perfect place to do it. He loves to bike and hike in the summer and ski in the winter. You’ll find him playing the course at his favorite time of day, late afternoon. In the Rockies, there’s always a chance of afternoon thunderstorms in the summer, but he loves the less crowded course and temperatures the early evenings offer.
In his years at Copper Creek, Dobrota’s seen it all. Bears, deer, moose, foxes and goats on the course, but the bachelor parties always take the cake for the craziest things he’s seen on the fairway.
Dobrota’s advice for making the most of your summer vacation at Copper?
“Well, besides golf, try not to get in the car if you don’t have to.”
Trails at Copper are extremely accessible. Bring a bike or hiking gear and ride the lifts up the mountain. Be prepared with a jacket and an umbrella, because summer storms can come in at any minute, but don’t let them scare you away. Often the best sunsets, and wildlife sightings, happen after a storm. Make sure to finish off the day at Dobrota’s favorite restaurant on the mountain, JJ’s which he loves for it’s barbeque.
Want to learn from Zach Dobrota himself? Join a Ladies Clinic on Tuesday or Thursday nights, which includes instruction, wine and appetizers, book a private lesson, or play a round with Zach by booking a playing lesson.