HURRICANE, Utah – Four national travel golf journalists stood on the lofted No. 17 tee at the brand-new Copper Rock Golf Course in southwest Utah beneath a rugged panorama of the Wasatch Mountain range’s southern tip, the Vermillion Cliffs, Pine Mountain and sand dunes to the west.
The four, first to play here, had this 146-yard shot, drop-kicked it and four strikes gathered on the pristine putting surface. It was a painting of rugged beauty.
Golf-course architect Dale Beddo painted it, but at Copper Rock it’s up to you to figure out the puzzle that takes you through a journey of pushed up bunkers, fescue-covered moguls, verdant fairways and smooth rolling greens. Jeff Brauer also gave Beddo help on the design.
Too bad you have to wait until the course opens in the spring of 2020. And, oh yeah, discussions for a third nine west of the original layout are slated for the first of the year.
From first sight, Beddo, who has roots in Texas and Oklahoma, said he enjoyed the peripheral views from the high point where the future clubhouse will be built.
“I’m a naturalist and this land lends itself to a combination of prairie, desert, a little of what you see in Ireland and is perfect to let the bunkers rise out of the terrain,” Beddo said. “I saw a nice grassy valley for the front nine, and then hillier land on the back nine with the awesome views. The land allows gentle movement and in the rugged, higher areas I was able to place greens on hillsides and use ridge points for tee locations.”
This 960-acre golf course community also will have the luxury of being in ideal condition when it finally opens in the spring of 2020. Heck, it is already in better condition than some courses where I attended grand openings.
Copper Rock doesn’t pound on you. “It will play 6,865 from the back tees, has wide fairways with marginal forced carries, playable greens, no blind hazards and bunkers that you have a good chance of recovering from,” Beddo said. “Still, it will be strong enough for really good players.”
A double green highlights the 9th and 18th with a bunker menacing the middle of the massive putting surface. Both holes climb in elevation past an irrigation lake that separates the two fairways. Your approach will be to elevated putting surface and there are plenty of fairway bunkers to dodge. My favorite, the short par-4 third hole, is only 305 yards, but moguls covered with fescue dot the fairway and could result in a lost ball.
On the resort and golf-course community angle, Copper Rock plans to have an upscale clubhouse with guest rooms and a luxury hotel adjacent, multiple restaurants and a spa. It’s about 20 minutes from highly-regarded Sand Hollow Resort and close to Sky Mountain Golf Course, a municipal operated by the City of Hurricane.
More Beddo work set for Coral Canyon Golf Course
Beddo is not finished in the Hurricane and St. George area. Coral Canyon Golf Course, designed in 2000 by Keith Foster, has had recent flooding issues, is next on his docket.
“We are going to give Coral Canyon a complete redesign,” Beddo said. “We will relocate seven holes and have eight new green locations. I also want to bring in lakes features that the desert has pretty much taken over.”
Greater Zion Golf includes much more
My visit also included golf at Sand Hollow Resort, The Ledges and Green Spring Golf Course.
The Ledges has remarkable, rugged views to the rim of Snow Canyon State Park. Architect Matt Dye designed this 7,145-yard, par 72, that sits 900 feet above the St. George valley.
The Ledges features an acclaimed Golf Academy, a teaching facility that includes a championship short game area, three-climate controlled teaching bays, precision video cameras and swing-putting analysis software.
Also, don’t miss the Fish Rock Grille for an excellent dining experience and snacks for the golf day. The Ledges also has great Stay and Play units on the golf course.
Green Spring is a top-rated, municipal golf course owned by Washington, Utah, and could be the toughest test of golf in the entire area.
Designed by award-winning golf course designer Gene Bates, Green Spring opened in 1989 and was ranked in the Top 5 Best New Public Golf Courses in America by Golf Digest in its debut year. It continues to receive awards from Golf Digest and Golfweek as one of the top course in the state.
The signature holes 5 and 6 have you shooting across lava rock ravines that make you re-think going for it or laying up. Pine Mountain is a stunning backdrop with views to Red Cliffs State Park Recreation Area. Hole No. 6 was ranked as “The Hardest Hole in Utah” for many years by the Salt Lake Tribune.
Sand Hollow Resort’s back nine is like play on a red-rock ledge – signs warn you of the steep dive to your left – that’s the Virgin River far below. It was designed by John Fought, a U.S. Amateur champion. Gaze off the side and you will see where early Morman settlers farmed the river valley far below.
Utah’s No. 1-rated course also has stay and play options and 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.
From Red Rock Golf Trail to Greater Zion Golf
Long known as the Red Rock Golf Trail the name could be changed in the near future to Greater Zion Golf. It is just 90 minutes northeast of Las Vegas on I-15, and has 10 golf courses in a 20-mile radius. Also, the outstanding St. George airport has daily non-stop flights from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Great Zion could be your next outstanding recreational vacation
Don’t dare miss spending a few days at Zion National Park, just 30 minutes away, and a outdoor’s adventure is even closer.
The short hike we took in Snow Canyon State Park will make your iPhone camera fill up quick. And just consider the area’s explosion of Extreme Sports opportunities. Mountain bikers come for its over-the-top trails and the Red Bull Rampage. The destination just announced it will host the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship triathlon.
Greater Zion is for golf, for outdoorsmen and just unbelievable mountain beauty.
Story by David R. Holland