Ranch at Roaring Fork pro irons out others’ games
Post Independent Staff
It was one of those dazzling spring mornings so beautiful you’d swear robins were calling in reinforcements.
A steady flow of cheerful golfers made brief stops at The Ranch at Roaring Fork’s tidy clubhouse before marching to the first tee and smacking their first balls of the season.
Inside his office, course pro Brian Fuller sat at his corner desk, looked out the picture windows, and watched a solo golfer launch a ball straight down the first hole’s 132-yard fairway, where it bounced twice and rolled to a stop on the flat green.
“That’s a pretty good shot,” Fuller said. “He put it a little to the right.”
Between now and mid-October, Fuller will teach, coax and help thousands of golfers of all abilities at the par 3 Ranch at Roaring Fork golf course north of Carbondale.
His favorite part of the job? “The teaching part,” Fuller said, leaning back in his chair. “I like dealing with people, and the homeowners are great. We like to shoot the bull.”
Fuller, 45, has closely cropped hair, a broad face, friendly smile and sturdy build. He was raised in Glenwood Springs, but didn’t spend much time on the links in high school. He first started to play golf seriously while working at a course in California in the late 1970s. Later, at a Winter Park golf course, he took his first steps toward turning a sport into a career.
“Ken Andrews was the pro there, and I told him `I’m not a very good golfer, but I enjoy the game.” Andrews said he could teach Fuller how to play the game, and run a golf course. “It’s worked out pretty well,” Fuller said.
At Winter Park, Fuller met his future wife, Val Loomis. Over the next 12 years, Fuller worked at golf courses in Tucson, Ariz., then at Sonnenalp in Vail, before landing his job as the Ranch at Roaring Fork last year. He learned of the opening at a local hardware store, when Ranch at Roaring Fork superintendent Tom Vail told him former pro Tex Turner had passed away earlier in the year.
“I was trying to work closer to home. It takes a lot of my life to travel all the time,” Fuller said.
Working at a golf course only 12 miles from home is also a perk for Fuller’s 6-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, and 2-year-old son Eli. “As they get older, they can learn to play the game,” he said.
The golf course sits between Highway 82 and the Ranch at Roaring Fork subdivision, and plays 1,108 yards. The first tee is about 10 yards outside Fuller’s office window. The first four holes run 497 yards along the highway. The fifth hole is an 83-yarder that runs north and south. The final four holes cover 432 yards back to the clubhouse.
The sixth hole is one of Fuller’s favorites. “It’s 165 yards, and you have to carry over the water off the tee. It’s pretty tight, with houses and a tree line to the left, and another tree line on the right. I use a six or seven iron, depending on the wind,” he said.
Fuller works six days a week, and 20 to 30 of his weekly hours are spent giving group lessons to junior golfers, and private lessons to others. He also operates the one-room clubhouse, where golfers pay their greens fees, chat, check in on any televised golf tournament that might be under way, and snag Gatorade or soft drinks from a stand-up cooler.
“We’re hoping to add ice cream bars and pre-made sandwiches,” Fuller said as he stood behind the clubhouse cash register, waiting for a twosome who had just pulled their clubs from their car trunk. “We’re also getting a barbecue grill for corporate events, for companies that want to rent the facility for an afternoon.”
After Fuller rang up the twosome, he followed them outside into the bright, morning sun, where Dick Howard and Dick Hunt had wrapped up their nine holes.
“Who won all the money?” Fuller asked them, as Howard sat down at a picnic table and tallied up the score.
“He did,” Hunt growled. “Don’t bring it up. He’s been saving up all winter to kill me.”
Hunt and Howard are both retired, and had just finished their first round of the new golf season. Both appreciate the way Fuller runs the Ranch at Roaring Fork.
“He does a nice job here,” Hunt said. “The course is in good shape. It really is.”
Fuller is in pretty good shape, himself. His face is tan after a season as a ski instructor at Snowmass, and his arms are catching up.
“It took me a few years to get this program figured out, playing golf and skiing,” Fuller said as yet another golfer stepped up to the first tee. “My wife still doesn’t think I’m working.”
Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534
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