Red Rock Golf Trail in St. George, Utah
One of Nation's Finest Golf Trails
By Glen Turk
In a world built on convenience products like cell phones, microwaves, and laptops, I'm convinced the number one way to save time and money when planning a golf trip is to head to one of the nation's golf trails. The premise is simple - combine multiple courses in a concentrated area, then partner with local lodging options to sweeten the Stay and Play experience. But every once in awhile a golf trail goes above and beyond this tried and true formula and exceeds all expectations. Such is the case with the pride of southwestern Utah, the Red Rock Golf Trail in St. George, an underrated year-round must play extravaganza.
Founded in 2004, The Red Rock Golf Trail features nine courses within a 25 mile radius, including rookie of the year candidate Sand Hollow Resort, a 27 hole John Fought design. If you thought the original eight courses were jaw-droppers, wait until you play this rock-laden masterpiece.
The key to the Red Rock Golf Trail's rousing success is three-fold. First, St. George, Utah is only an hour and a half northeast of Las Vegas and roughly the same time by plane from Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Secondly, it appears a high pressure front has permanently stalled over the area as St. George is known for beautiful sun and little wind over 300 days a year. And last, but never least, the Red Rock Golf Trail is the ultimate combination of affordability and playability. Starting at $465 for a 5 night/5 round package, you'll be hard pressed to find another trail that offers 5 days of fun for less than $100 per day.
Sand Hollow Resort - Hurricane, Utah
As you make the turn down a steeply graded cart path between holes 11 and 12 at Sand Hollow in Hurricane you will have a hallelujah moment. If you don't, please consult your doctor to have your pulse and other vital signs checked. High above from the 12th tee box, the Virgin River bed will be revealed in all its glory set some 500 feet below cavernous cliffs and red rock outcroppings. If you can focus after viewing these omnipresent distractions, you will also see a series of four stunning golf holes that are begging to be conquered. With the edge of the world bordering the entire left side of this quad squad, it's a safe bet you won't find this magnitude of beauty anywhere else sans Pebble Beach.
But with great land came an even greater responsibility for John Fought and his design team to make the holes memorable, yet not contrived. Mark Whetzel, Sand Hollow's Director of Golf believes Fought's done just that and a whole lot more. "It's total shock and awe for patrons the first time they play the back nine. Especially for people who aren't used to the red sand and the red rocks; they can't believe we could fit a golf course into that landscape. Not only does the course look great, but they are great golf holes. The last thing we wanted to do is to create hokey cliff holes on our best stretch of land. So, when John Fought designed it I believe the red rocks create a remarkable backdrop throughout a series of incredible golf holes, and that's what we're so proud of," stated Whetzel.
Sand Hollow has already received almost every "Best New" award in the book since its opening in April of last year and for good reason. The property incorporates numerous 40 mile views, steep ridge lines, and even deeper canyons bordering nearly every hole. The par-3, 188 yard 15th gets my vote as Fought's finest, with 11 tee boxes offering a myriad of angles and lengths to a severely sloping green. I knew I liked Mark Whetzel for a reason as he agrees with me on the power of the 15th. "It's all about the view on 15 - the ledges, the red rocks, and the backdrop. And the best part is it plays differently from all 11 tee boxes we have. You really feel like you're golfing on Mars."
Sand Hollow currently features 27 Championship holes, including an amazing nine hole Links Course that intentionally mimics the origins of the game found on Scottish links layouts. You'll be confronted with six foot high rock ledges that obscure fairways and form cutting edge doglegs throughout in both directions. A back nine to compliment the Links front is part of the master plan as well as a water park, a retail shopping center, and condo-hotels. It's a safe bet these amenities will surely turn Sand Hollow Resort into The Next Big Thing for vacationers that want to play championship golf far away from the hustle bustle and over priced phenomena that Las Vegas has become.
For more information on Sand Hollow or to book a tee time, visit their website at www.sandhollowresort.com or call (435) 656-GOLF (4653).
Coral Canyon -- Hurricane, UT
Moments away from downtown St. George rests Coral Canyon, a Keith Foster design that consistently ranks as one of Utah's finest. This is rugged desert golf at its finest as natural red rock outcroppings form a brilliant color contrast against the green fairways and blue skies. Coral Canyon features 80 acres of turf, 55 bunkers and a bevy of dry washes that must be carried or laid up short of on numerous occasions. But don't feel intimidated at all, as Coral Canyon offers wide landing areas and five sets of tees that allow the course play from 4100 to 7000 yards.
Coral Canyon elicits a country club feel based upon their superior amenities. The pro shop/restaurant is high class, while the driving range and putting green gave me the urge to practice more than my customary 5 minutes before teeing off. The par 72 layout is tucked within the Coral Canyon housing community, so million dollar views of million dollar homes are bountiful. Coral Canyon also is home to some of the most experienced PGA Professionals in the area and they are thrilled to impart their knowledge during a lesson series or on-course tutorial. Gary White, Coral Canyon's Director of Golf, discusses their commitment to teaching. "Teaching golf is a very important part of our operation and equally important to the game itself. Golf loses numerous golf players and rounds simply because many golfers get frustrated not playing to their capability. I always tell my staff that golfers play more golf when they play to their golfing abilities!"
Here's another common theme you'll find on the Red Rock Golf Trail - their courses offer an incredible value. Coral Canyon's highest rate is $98 for 18 with a cart while after 2:00 p.m. golfers can enjoy the course for only $55. For more information, visit their website at www.coralcanyongolf.com or call 1-888-830-5970.
The Ledges -- St. George, UT
Just last year The Ledges played the role of Sand Hollow, a brand new course on the RRGT that was garnering headlines. The Matt Dye design is links style golf at its finest with a twist. Most links style courses aren't afforded the luxury of being set inside a series of rocky cliffs and outcroppings. Sure, the actual holes may be fairly wide open, but there is nothing easy about this 7145 yard masterpiece. The Ledges main defense other than purposeful elevation changes is the wind. The day I was there it blew in excess of 30 m.p.h. and placed a premium on the knockdown shot. When I wasn't trying to control my ball flight, I was taking full advantage of the miraculous setting.
The back nine is ridiculously solid featuring a thrilling collection of short and mid-range par-4's and stunning par-5's. The two best holes on the property according to Director of Golf Colby Cowan are number's 12 and 14. "I enjoy number12 because of the view of the state park. While the hole isn't very long, it is challenging due to the green. It slopes to a bottom tier on the right that can be very challenging. Number 14 is probably my favorite because of, once again, the setting. This short par-4 is challenging to get the ball in the right position off the tee and then your approach is to a narrow green. The views are incredible," stated Cowan.
The Ledges is also home to the Jack Nicklaus Academy of Golf. The academy's free standing building features heated hitting bays so students can see ball flight, yet stay toasty warm if need be. I doubt NASA has this much technology as the academy lead by Doug Roberts is filled with every contraption that's dedicated to improving your game. The TOMI putting system is so state-of-the-art as your alignment, path, and tempo are analyzed and then compared to the top-10 putters on Tour. Sorry Sergio, I'm guessing your profile was not included in this analysis. The Academy offers half day, full-day, two-day, and three-day schools with a strict 2 to 1 student to teacher ratio. For more information, visit www.ledges.com or call 1-435-634-4640.
Sunbrook GC- St. George, UT
I was gypped last year. The day we were supposed to play Sunbrook GC it rained heavily. We still played anyway thanks to the best bad weather golf invention this side of the bucket hat - a covered golf cart complete with a Coleman heater. For an area that only receives about 10 inches of rain per year, they sure were prepared at Sunbrook. Thanks to a boatload of panoramic views throughout all three nines, I was thrilled to get another crack at this fantastic establishment. And trust me, playing 38 holes in 8 hours did not disappoint.
Having three diverse nines is a tremendous advantage according to Reed McArthur, Sunbrook's Head Pro. "I think having 27 holes works in different ways. When you have an 18 hole event, you always have 9 holes for people to play and if timing is right they can start on the open 9 and then re-round once the event is over for their second 9. Also, we have a lot of events that play 27 holes thus creating a longer day of fun," stated McArthur.
Sunbrook was twice rated Utah's #1 course by Golf Digest. Before Sand Hollow, it was the only course in southwestern Utah featuring 27 championship holes. The property is divided by three nines, the Pointe Nine, the Woodbridge Nine, and the Blackrock Nine. The Pointe Nine is defined by elevated tee and epic views, while the Woodbridge Nine is named after the 5th hole that featured a country-style wooden bridge. The Blackrock nine features three holes carved out of lava fields. For more information on Sunbrook, visit their website at www.sunbrook.com or call 1-435-627-4727.
Dixie Red Hills G.C. - St. George, UT
As the oldest course in the St. George area, I can see why so many people became hooked on this great game - it's because they got to experience it first at Dixie Red Hills. Located within the St. George city line, the par 34, 2733 yard course is sporty and fun, all the while being just as challenging as any other on The RRGT. The best holes at Dixie Red Hills include the only par-5, the 516 yard 3rd hole. This one's got character to spare as you open with a semi-blind tee shot to a sweeping dogleg left around gorgeous rock walls. One lone tree conveniently located on the right edge of the fairway blocks out the putting surface for those who don't take enough out of the dogleg.
Another great hole is the 370 yard par-4 7th which requires target golf from an elevated tee box with the city as your backdrop. Rates at Dixie Red Hills are extremely affordable as 9 holes with a cart run residents $20, while out-of-towners pay a reasonable $28. For more information on Dixie Red Hills, call their pro shop at (435) 627-4444.
Other courses on the Red Rock Golf Trail include Sky Mountain, St. George CC, Southgate, and SunRiver. Information on those courses can be found on www.redrockgolftrail.com.
In conclusion, The Red Rock Golf Trail is the perfect trail in times of economic uncertainty. Their stay and play rates are low and the courses are all within 15 minutes of downtown St. George. Plus, you can fly directly into Las Vegas from anywhere in the country making it super convenient. The people are friendly, the food is delicious and, most importantly, the golf is exceptionally memorable. To me that sounds like a winning proposition.
Article Tags: Red Rock Golf Trail, Utah Golf, St George Golf
Revised: 11/08/2010 - Article Viewed 26,971 Times
About: Glen Turk
Glen Turk is a Wisconsin native and is the Senior Writer/Editor of Midwest Golfing Magazine. Midwest Golfing Magazine was formerly known as Pub-Links Golfer's Magazine and is a free publication distributed four times per year throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio.
His duties at MGM include writing course features, facilitating product testing, and overseeing the overall content and look of the magazine. But clearly his most important task is playing as much golf as his wife allows. Fortunately for him, she plays also and loves out-driving him even with a 60 yard head start.
Glen plays to a 6 handicap but once set a record by having his ball retriever regripped 15 times in one calendar year. It was a December trip to Guam that ultimately did him in. Finally, if you haven't caught on by now, the two most worthy weapons in Glen's writing arsenal are self-deprecating humor and pithy one-liners.
My signature line, "Be A Force on The Course" and now more recently, "Hit 'Em Where They Mow!" can be reused at no charge.
Contact Glen Turk:
Midwest Golfing Magazine - Senior Writer Editor