Hidden Valley Country Club
I’ve been lucky to have played one Utah’s best golf courses with my dad many 100’s, of not 1000’s of times over the last few decades. Hidden Valley Country Club in Sandy, Utah is without a doubt my favorite course in northern Utah. HVCC is a fantastic mountainside 27 hole facility with tree-lined holes, great elevation changes and many fantastic views of the valley below and mountains above. Somehow they manage to produce the softest, yet smoothest and fastest greens around. My personal best score was a satisfying 68 (-4) there last year. I love HVCC and know practically every square inch.
Hidden Valley Country Club – Mountain Nine – 3rd Hole
A few years ago the club considered a course redesign by Matt Dye and wisely opted not to do it. During a redesign presentation one of the lady members pointed out to Dye and those considering the project that the course was wonderful as it was, saying, “why would anyone want to change this?”
Rees Jones Proposed Redesign – click to zoom
The members at HVCC, which I am not, are once again considering a redesign. This time by Rees Jones. The focus would be the greens and tees, with some modifications to bunkers and trees. Some of the reasons behind the redesign: The course was built a long time ago. Two architects contributed to the current greens design. The course is too short. The putting surfaces are not consistent. The drainage systems need to be updated.
Much effort is put into stressing that the goal is not to make the course more difficult.
While I (sort of ) understand these reasons, I once again question redesigning such a great course. I just mentioned how great the greens are, yet some think they need to be redone? Perhaps I don’t know that much about golf architecture, but I’m trying to think of which greens are so out of place on the course. I suppose I’ve always thought of them as they are, and not how they could or should be. Maybe the members should go play some of the muni courses in town with bad greens to remind themselves how great their greens really are. I don’t find the surfaces to be inconsistent. I find them to be consistently good and the speeds perfect.
I do understand the need for drainage work. The course can often be very soggy and spongy in places, yet very dry in others. Some of the tee boxes can be way too soft.
I can definitely imagine some tee box redesign and repositioning. Some good variation could be added to the course by putting boxes in different locations, providing different angles off the tee as well as different elevations. Right now some of the tee boxes can be a bit boring, with all the tee sets in the same strip, just a few yards apart.
Having grown up playing “mountain golf” I do love the way these types of courses frame up when lined with large mature pines like Hidden Valley is. That being said, I’m also as big a fan of links style golf as anyone. There aren’t any “tree lined” holes on the Old Course in St. Andrews. While part of me wants to see the trees and hole shapes stay, I’d be curious to see what a more modern design might bring in the way of playability and aesthetics. If I had any input at all, I would have suggested the club talk with Gil Hanse, Tom Doak or Baxter Spann about the redesign. I’d recommend getting a 2nd, 3rd or 4th opinion/bid on something as big and important as what the club calls their “biggest asset,” their course. I know if I was looking at spending over $5 million on a project, I’d want want to be sure I was making the right choice.
Hidden Valley Country Club – Poisoned Tree – Mountain Course 8th Hole – click to zoom
Recently the club was the victim of some bad vandalism. Gloves and poison were found in a garbage can on the course. Shortly after those items were found, two large trees on the 6th and 8th holes of the Mountain nine started to die (pictured right). These trees play a very strong role in the strategy of the holes. Without them, the holes become much easier and less challenging, as well as less attractive aesthetically.
Seeing these great trees dying makes me ill. I’m very saddened that someone would stoop that low. Certainly doing something like this is not in the spirit of golf and the golf gods will make these vandals pay.
Some theorize that the “flat bellies” of the club may be the source of the sabotage. If those trees weren’t there, the young and long hitters would be able to drive the short par-4 6th or reach the par-5 8th in two shots easily.
I suspect it is also possible the vandalism may have been performed by a disgruntled member or former member. Perhaps someone has an axe to grind and this is their way of getting back at the club?
A third theory I have is one I really hope isn’t the case. I do find it interesting timing that the course is considering a redesign at the same time this sabotage takes place. If I read the design notes correctly, these two trees would be eliminated in the new design. Coincidence? Was the vandalism done by someone who really wants the redesign to happen or worse yet, has a financial interest in the redesign taking place? As I said, I certainly hope this theory is not the case.
A reward is now offered by the club. $2,500 cash to whoever provides the club information leading to the positive identification of the person responsible for the damage.
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