HURRICANE, Utah – When Tony Finau stepped on the first tee at Sand Hollow Resort and saw a fairway as wide as Nos. 1 and 18 at St. Andrews he must have known what was about to happen.
Yep, the personable PGA Tour pro and Utah native nailed a drive on the gradual downhill 447-yard, par 4 that rolled close to the green.
Little did he know the best was lurking on a scenic ridgeline on the back nine. Holes 11-15 are about as picturesque and fun as you will ever see. Golfweek’s No. 56 on its Top 100 list measures 7,315 yards at par 72.
The Devil’s Throat tee shot at No. 15, a 230-yard par three is a flashback to Denver’s Arrowhead Golf Club with tee box flanked on both sides by pillars of red rock formations.
This amazing hole actually has its forward tees on higher ground, a bluff shot that’s a completely different look than the lower “Throat”.
These holes are beyond scenic like Utah itself – Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the USA’s fourth most visited national park, Zion, is just a short drive away.
The ridge line that dominates these back nine special holes is best seen from a drone flyover and photographer Brian Oar has done just that.
But few realize when you gaze off this ridge the Virgin River Valley that you see was instrumental in settling Hurricane. It was there Mormons grew cotton and dug by pick axe and shovel the Hurricane Canal that was the lifeblood of this settlement for 80 years.
Small farmers also had peach and apricot orchards for the LDS Church, and pecans and pistachio nuts followed.
No duck hooks and have that camera ready
“Each hole is a difficult birdie and easy bogey so all levels of players will enjoy playing again and again. Once you finish your first round on the Championship Course, you can’t wait to come back,” said John Fought, the designer along with Andy Staples, who was project manager.
Fought was a talented college golfer at Brigham Young University, is a U.S. Amateur champion and two-time winner on the PGA Tour.
Once you finish No. 10, a beauty of a par 5, the cart path makes a curve to open the ridge-line holes — you have officially entered golf nirvana. Golf writer Glen Turk called this stretch of cart path a “hallelujah moment”. Amen, brother.
No. 11 is a 190-yard, par 3 that has a large mound left of the green that will give you a friendly kick. Avoid a deep bunker complex that defends a drop to the valley.
As far as no duck hooks, my cousin Jim Holland, pulled a shot that bounced off boulders left of the 12th (443-yard, par 4) then bounded on to the green.
Check the photos – this beauty dives downward from the tee then climbs to the putting surface in a natural bowl created by the surrounding rock.
Have you put Sand Hollow on your bucket list yet? What makes this course one of the best in the west is the fun factor and the beauty that is 360 degrees.
The red dirt blends with the green and even spills into the awesome bunkers. The day we played that bunker red was compacted. After one swing you know that you are not splashing out of Augusta white sand – you have to swing hard – very hard to be successful.
Why visit Sand Hollow?
For one there’s more golf. Inspired by the “Links Land” courses of the British Isles, Sand Hollow Resort’s Links Course is a 3,600-yard par-36 layout. The Wee Course, is Southern Utah’s only, par-3 course.
Lodging is also abundant. I stayed in one of its brand-new condos that you can see from the first fairway.
Red Rock Golf Trail
Sand Hollow Resort is part of the www.redrockgolftrail.com that encases 10 courses in St. George, Hurricane and Washington located in the southwestern corner of Utah. It is only an hour and a half from Las Vegas and one can play year around.
This is my favorite “golf trail” in the USA – better than the famous one in Alabama by a country mile.
And Copper Rock Golf Course in Hurricane is a new addition scheduled to open this fall. Log on to www.redrockgolftrail.com
and schedule your visit.
St. George is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.
Zion National Park is spectacular and only a short drive from Sand Hollow.
Mountain bikers come for its over-the-top trails and the Red Bull Rampage.
Tuacahn Amphitheatre is set in a red rock canyon and has Broadway shows, concerts and comedic performances.
The destination just announced it will host the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship triathlon.
The desert southwest, for my time, is the most beautiful part of the USA. Well, maybe the Rocky Mountains (my home) are its equal. Give me a trip to the west or a trip to Florida? The west is best.
And that name?
Hurricane was first settled in 1896, and received its name after a whirlwind blew the top off a buggy in which Erastus Snow was riding. Snow exclaimed, “Well, that was a Hurricane. We’ll name this ‘Hurricane Hill’.”
Story by David R. Holland