Once upon a time on the Utah Greens

REPORTING – In a Wild West setting worthy of John Ford’s movies, the town of Saint George, northeast of Las Vegas, holds golfing treasures.

Special Envoy for Saint George

The road from Las Vegas to Saint George sets the tone. It meanders between huge jagged rock formations whose colors range from orange-yellow to deep red. It feels like Mars. Less than 200 kilometers from the “City of Sin”, its excesses and its casinos, you will definitely change planets when you land in Saint George. This peaceful small Mormon town of 80,000 has grown into a golfing hotspot, with thirteen golf courses within a 20 mile radius, all constructed within the last quarter century. Largely built around huge granite boulders, in steep terrain amid rocky gorges, these year-round courses guarantee a total change of scenery. The icing on the cake: These verdant, manicured paradises amidst lofty desert landscapes aren’t overrun with real estate. The sun shines nearly all the time (330 days a year) and the summer heat is less oppressive than neighboring states of Nevada or Arizona. Finally, the prices are much lower than those of the golf courses around Phoenix or Las Vegas.

Our journey begins in Coral Canyon, about ten kilometers east of Saint George. As soon as we arrive, the friendly staff will collect the bag and place it on a trolley. First class reception at this typical desert golf course, which was built in 2000. Chunks of red rock is his signature. The crooked greens, which often nestle against the slope, are usually surrounded by numerous bunkers. Caution is required to stay on the fairway, because the narrow fairways mean that the balls can quickly get lost in the middle of the desert pebbles. And if you go off track, avoid looking for your ball in the thickets, poisonous snakes seem to be legion there. This is probably the most complicated course to negotiate in the region. But you can console yourself with the decoration and admire in the background the mountains of the Pine Valley Mountains, which are snow-capped for most of the year… All this while you are rocking in an open-air pet shop. Here the squirrels are not shy and will not hesitate to climb on your cart to steal some food!

You won’t find anything like this anywhere else

Regular at Sand Hollow Resort

A little further southeast of Saint George, at Hurricane, is Utah’s finest public golf course. At the base of Zion National Park – the third most visited in America – the Sand Hollow Resort plays 27 holes (an 18 hole and a 9 hole that will soon be expanded to 18). The 6,675-meter back tee course, designed in 2008 by former American amateur champion and two-time PGA Tour winner John Fought, is quite simply one of the most spectacular in the world. “You won’t find anything like it anywhere else”, says a regular of the place. Sand Hollow is indeed unforgettable and definitely needs a few photos before you leave.

The first nine holes of the championship are played flat with a lot of bumps on the fairways and even more on the greens. On the nine return holes from 11 (par 3) you gain height. The dizzying fairways of holes 11 and 14 unfold on a rocky plateau about a hundred feet above the gorge of the Virgin River, a tributary of the Colorado. If the fairways remain relatively wide, every mistake will be expensive. On the left your ball falls into the ravine; he meets the high red cliffs on the right and then it takes a lot of luck to get him back on the fairway. Particularly impressive are the short par 4 of 13, set at the top of a ledge, and the par 4 of 14, which runs downhill. Number 15, a par 3 called “Devil’s Throat”, is surrounded by red rocks and the long ravine protecting the double plateau green can swallow balls. But not the memories of the golf trot that will remain engraved forever.

Exceptional viewpoints

Twenty minutes from Sand Hollow is Copper Rock Golf Course, the jewel of Hurricane Valley. Designed by a local architect, the plaza opened its doors in February 2020 and already hosts a Symetra Tour event (second division of American women’s circus) organized in April. In the desert, the air is very dry and the bullets fly farther. Which is not useless given the resulting length of the track (6238 meters from the intermediate runs). The latter is reminiscent of those of Scottsdale or Palm Springs. Less palm trees. Its specialty: the 9e and 18e Holes with a double green that rises above a lake that separates the two fairways. A first-class clubhouse with guest rooms and a luxury hotel with several restaurants and a spa will soon see the light of day. Even if the green fees are a bit more expensive than at its neighbors (about 125 euros), the quality is on the other side at the meeting point. The goal is to make it a must-attend course in Utah, even in the United States.

Back in Saint George we climb 900 meters higher to The Ledges at the gates of Snow Canyon State Park. It’s a true test of golf where you can putt with more confidence on its bumpy, fast and almost entirely elevated greens. If the outward journey, flat, with generous fairways and little rough, is rather unspectacular, the scenery changes radically from the seventh hole – a long par 5 of 508 meters – where we face Snow Canyon State Park. Holes 11 to 17 are then hillier and surrounded by rocks and desert sand. A true Wild West landscape and a pure “Target Golf”. The views are exceptional, especially on the 14th and 15th holes with the backdrop of the Fish Rock Grill, which gives the clubhouse restaurant its name. In this dry region, the two water hazards at holes 9 and 18 bring a bit of freshness into play.

travelogue

• WALK

Air France has direct flights to Las Vegas from Paris, Saint George is two hours away.

• TO PLAY

Coral Canyon Golf Course1925 N Canyon Greens Dr, Washington, UT 84 780. Tel: +1 435 688 1 700. From €66 to €105 green fee, coralcanyongolf.com

Sand Hollow Resort5662 W Clubhouse Dr, Hurricane, UT 84 737. Tel: +1 435 656 4 653. From €85 to €160 green fee, sandhollowresorts.com

The Ledges Golf Club, 1585 Ledges Parkway, Saint George, UT 84 770. Tel: +1 435 634 4 600. From €67 to €130 green fee. leds.com

Copper Rock Golf Course, 1567 W Copper Rock Parkway, Hurricane, UT 84 737. Tel: +1 435 215 4 845. From €90 to €125 green fee. kupferrockdev.com

• RESIDE

The Advenire Hotel, Marriott Autograph Collection. theadvenirehotel.com

• TO VISIT

Snow Canyon State Park
A park just outside the city with spectacular petrified sand dunes. stateparks.utah.gov

Zion National Park
A centuries-old park stretches over 595 km2 around the gorge of the same name, whose cliffs are impressive. nps.gov

Bryce Canyon
Between 2020 and 2748 meters above sea level, its spectacular pinnacles planted in the sky cause a stir. nps.gov

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