Val Russell 2017-09-11 06:32:28
When you golf here, you’ll realize you’re a long, long way from the Midwest JUST TO BE clear upfront, I’m a bit biased toward Utah because I grew up there. My hometown, however, is in far northern Utah, hundreds of miles from the St. George area, so I was as anxious to learn about a part of the state that I didn’t really know. The Red Rock Golf Trail (RedRockGolfTrail.com) is located in and around St. George. There is a small airport in St. George that services Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. If you decide instead to drive to St. George from either of those locations, Las Vegas is about 120 miles away and Salt Lake City is about 300 miles. I spent five days in St. George this past spring. If you recall, our winter here seemed to hold on forever, so a trip to the sunny and warm desert was sweet relief. The area is billed as a year-round location for golf, but be watchful of the weather. This is high desert, and it can be cold and get some snow in the winter months. Nevertheless, there are plenty of warm days in winter. Spring and fall are typically the best times to visit. Summer can be very hot—not Phoenix-hot but toasty nonetheless. There are ample motel/hotel options in St. George, which, at 80,000 people, is by far the largest city in the region. I stayed at a Courtyard Marriott that was modern and had a great pool and hot tub. Many restaurants can be found with a little planning. One that provided some particularly tasty food, as well as gorgeous views, was the Cliff side Restaurant, which is, as you might guess, is located on a cliff . The Gun Barrel Steak and Game House is another fun spot. As for the golf, it was excellent. But with moderate prices (which vary by season) and a fair number of golfers (it’s a retirement area), we recommend that you book tee times well in advance. Redrockgolftrail.com and Zionnationalpark.com both can help you plan your trip. My favorite course was Sand Hollow, which features several unique holes. The conditioning is excellent, and the greens are challenging. Be prepared to lose some golf balls if you decide to do battle with the cliffs in a few areas. I played only nine holes of the 27 that are available at Sunbrook, but it was memorable because I shot an even-par 36 on what is a fairly tight course with a fair number of trees. Sunbrook has twice been rated by Golf Digest as the best course in Utah. It has less desert and more familiar tree- and home-lined fairways, and the Island Green hole (No. 4) is really something special. If you have only a short time to visit, make sure to play the oldest course in St. George, Dixie Red Hills. It’s a cute, relatively short nine-hole course that isn’t as easy as it might appear. Dixie Red Hills isn’t quite as well manicured as others, but it’s reasonably priced and easy to get to within the city limits. Since this is a local favorite, be sure to make a reservation. The Ledges is another local favorite, with majestic views of the surrounding cliffs and mountains. This course, which is in excellent shape, has that desert feel, meaning fewer trees in the areas of play. You’ll see a few homes, but the surrounding views aren’t obscured. Have lunch at the Fish Rock Grill—you won’t be disappointed. I didn’t get a chance to play Sky Mountain Golf Club, but I was able to hit balls at its driving range and peruse some of its marvelous-looking holes. It’s another gem in this valley of gems. The views at Sky Mountain alone make it worthwhile. Overall, this is a trip most golfers would love. I’ve played courses in Arizona and Southern California, and for the most part, I like desert golf. Water is at premium in the desert, and golf courses need water. Thus, many of the courses in that part of the country are on the expensive side. But those in the St. George area are relatively inexpensive, and the playing conditions are great. Additionally, you won’t go broke paying for meals or overnight accommodations. Lastly, make sure you leave some time for a couple outdoor hikes or adventures. This area has phenomenal land formations that you won’t see anywhere else.
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