Sand Hollow Resort a stunner on One of the 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.
Welcome to St. George, Utah and the Red Rock Golf Trail, 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.
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. Sunscreen is a must as 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. It may be the ultimate combination of affordability and playability. Starting at $429 for a 4 night/4 round package, you’ll be hard pressed to find another trail that offers 5 days of fun for slightly more 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 yards 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).
The Red Rock Golf Trail is a stunning compilation of 10 golf courses in the St. George Utah area. The St. George Tourism Office has developed a comprehensive golf getaway trip planner that includes everything from green fees to hotel reservations.
Information on other courses and more can be found on www.redrockgolftrail.com.