Having played the original links course earlier this year, The Old Course at St. Andrews, along with about 7 other links courses in the town of St. Andrews, I feel like I know my links golf now. So I feel it is a good time to post my review of the nine hole Links Course at Sand Hollow Resort, about 300 miles south of HOG World Headquarters in the town of Hurricane. Hurricane is a few minutes drive from the golf mecca of St. George in southwestern Utah. Nearby attractions other than golf include Zion National Park and the beautiful Snow Canyon State Park.
The nine hole Links Course at Sand Hollow compliments the unbelievably amazing and #1 rated public course in the state of Utah, Sand Hollow Resort’s 18 hole Championship Course, which I reviewed back on March 8, 2010. Even mentioning the Championship Course makes me ache to get back there. I must go back… now.
Links Course Design/Concept
The Links Course at Sand Hollow is inspired by true links golf from Scotland, Ireland etc. Though it doesn’t “link” the land with the sea like a true links does, the course attempts to capture the essence of links golf by blending in with the natural dunes and rock formations. Not a lot of earth moving here.
In links fashion, the fairways are wide and the greens are huge. In fact, the course boasts the largest fairways and greens in the entire state of Utah. The greens are big, but still not as big as many of the greens at the Old Course in St. Andrews, some of which stretch over 400 feet across. The big greens and fairways make playing for beginning golfers enjoyable.
I dig the efforts the designer John Fought to make the course as authentic as possible. The dunes must have been a great canvas for John to work with.
Speaking of effort–in making the experience even more authentic, a hand made stone “sheep fence” lines some of the holes. As far as I could tell the wall does a fine job. I didn’t see any sheep on the course. Wait a minute. Perhaps the fence was meant to keep the sheep on the course. That’s how they cut the grass on links courses before the invention of the lawn mower!
Tee boxes in St. Andrews and many links courses are very unobtrusive. They can simply be a flat area of ground near the previous green. The tees at Sand Hollow’s Links are authentically and tastefully reserved.
The tees can present some challenges though, especially if one hasn’t played the course before. The dunes can hide the landing areas, making it difficult to decide where to aim and difficult to trust one’s swing.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, I had a few moments of doubt on the tee. On the second hole I was sure I’d knocked my ball into the desert. But I was happy to find that I was actually in a piece of fairway which I couldn’t see from the tee. Saved by the wide fairways!
Lies in the fairway aren’t tough. Most of them are fairly flat and give a straight forward approach to the greens. Miss the fairway though, and look out. There are high scores lurking in the desert sand, sage brush and some very nasty bunkers.
Speaking of bunkers… The bunkering at the Sand Hollow Links does differ greatly from traditional links style bunkers. There aren’t any of the circular pot bunkers with the stepped edges. Rather, there are natural red sand bunkers with rough edges and encroaching native grasses. Sand conditions can range from very soft and fluffy to hard and compacted after rainfall.
The land which the Links Course resides on is all red sand dunes with desert sage and vegetation. Miss green grass with a shot and your ball will find red sand or perhaps a sage brush.
The greens have subtle breaks. Nothing too severe. The challenge of the greens, just like St. Andrews, is the size. Distance control is the key to one or two-putting because it is possible to have some very long putts. The good news with greens this big is that you might have a better regulation percentage!
Most greens have areas which promote low chips and run-up shots. There are some greens like the par-3 6th however, which require carrying the ball all the way to the surface. On that hole I didn’t carry it all the way to the green and ended up plugged in some hard red sand. That was an opportunity for a very satisfying blast out of the sand to par saving 1-putt range.
Photo Opportunities: 4,324,031
It is a blast to throw your bag on your back and play some links style golf in the red sand of southern Utah. The Links Course at Sand Hollow is an easy walk, fun to play, and resides in one of the most beautiful places in the world.