Last fall I wrote about some vandalism to one of my home courses, Hidden Valley Country Club here in Sandy, Utah. Some jerk (who I hope gets a lifetime case of the yips and the shanks) actually poisoned several trees on the course. Those trees played heavy roles in the strategy of the holes. Case in point was the Mountain nine’s 8th hole. The hole is a short par-5 which had a large tree on the right side at about 200 out. That tree was a great defense to bombers going for it in two. The tree died and was removed. Following its removal the club did some work on the hole, replacing the tree with a bunker. They also did some reshaping of the area about 100 yards short of the green. That spot previously was rough which blocked a view of the green and had an unsightly cartpath. The new shaping added more fairway and gave a nice look at the green, and removed the cartpath.
In the photo below, captured with my aerial photo/video quadcopter, the bunker to the right is the new one where the tree used to be. The two smaller bunkers short of the pond are on each side of the new fairway shaping. I’m sad to see the tree go, but I think the new shaping and work they did on this hole is excellent. I do however think the scoring average of this hole will go down.
Hidden Valley Country Club Mountain 8th Hole – Sandy, Utah
Below is a video flyover showing the approach with the new shaping and bunker tweaks.
Before Sunday’s morning round at Salt Lake City’s Bonneville Golf Course the skies were blue and there was very little wind. That meant an opportunity to get the drone out and do a quick flight before hitting the first tee.
It was a quick seven minute flight without much setup or analysis of lighting etc. I caught a couple of cool aerial photos (click photo below to see them) along with a decent video flyover of the 18th green (above). I’m building a big rig which will carry a much bigger and higher quality camera, so the videos and photos will soon be even better.
Bonneville Golf Course – Left to right: driving range, hole #1, hole #18, hole #10
The Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour was rolling this past few days in northern Arizona and southern Utah, with stops at Bryce Canyon National Park, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Kanab, Utah.
Coral Cliffs Golf Course – Kanab, Utah
Home base this week was at a pal’s place in Kanab, Utah. Kanab is just on the Arizona/Utah border, about 1.5 hours north of the north rim of the Grand Canyon, This small town of about 5,000 is in a fantastic location with the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park all from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours away.
Kanab has a small and relatively unknown 9-hole golf course called Coral Cliffs. Of course, the name comes from the red rock cliffs which serve as a beautiful backdrop. The fine managment at Coral Cliffs allowed me to ride the course on a cart and bring my photo gear, including my aerial imagery rig (toy helicopter). Here’s one shot of the 5th, 6th and 7th holes from above. I’m still working on processing the rest of my images, but for now enjoy this one.
For more on Coral Cliffs, visit the Kahab page at Utah Golf Guru, a Hooked On Golf Blog sister site. Utah Golf Guru provides a list of every course in the state of Utah with photos, course details and even playing tips from yours truly!
The club has been considering a course redesign by Rees Jones and the membership voted last week. 60% of the votes were in favor of NOT doing the redesign.
I’d have to say this is once more a case of “sometimes the best decision is to do nothing.” I don’t feel the course needs a major overhaul. It could use some tweaking, sure. Fixes in drainage and irrigation and a few other maintenance things would be appropriate. Perhaps a few new strategically placed tee boxes. Not $5+ million worth of work and certainly not work which would close down ⅓ of the course for three consecutive years.
Some of the membership seems to think the course will lose its playability and stature as time goes on. “We have a great club at the present time, but we have to look to the future and make sure we can say this ten years from now.” I’m not sure where this line of thinking comes from. Members make a great club first, then the course. 10 years from now the course will still be a gem and a joy to play and its only about 1300 years younger than the Old Course at St. Andrews. Do the members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club worry so much about upgrading the course so that it would still be great 10 years down the road?
Hidden Valley Country Club – Poisoned Tree – Mountain Course 8th Hole – click to zoom
Vandalism Reward Bumped Up To $10,000
In the same article last week I mentioned that the club had offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the vandal (or vandals) who poisoned the trees on the Mountain nine, holes #6 and #8. Those were two of the three most strategic and crucial trees on the 27-hole course.
Add a 3rd tree now, and bump up the reward to $10,000.
The Valley Course hole #5 tree, a classic tree in the middle of the fairway which eats drives and forces players to execute great shots to either side, is now dying.
For someone to stoop so low as to poison trees on their golf course is beyond my comprehension. The golf gods will certainly curse these assholes with a lifetime case of the yips. This person (or persons) deserves some maffia style justice, the kind which involves a pair of pliers and a 9-iron. For good measure, add a Joe Pesci skull vice procedure like in the movie Casino.
I’ve played golf in some amazing places, from Scotland to Mexico to all over north America. But some of the most amazing golf courses, like Coral Canyon Golf Course, are right here in my back yard, Utah. I’ve had the pleasure of playing “Coral” many times and I never pass up a chance to experience it.
Golf island on Mars? Coral Canyon’s signature 6th hole. Click for more.
Coral Canyon is located a few minutes north of the St. George golf mecca in southwestern Utah. Nearby attractions other than golf include Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks. This area of the state is what some call “red rock country” or “color country.” Desert red rock plateaus, red sandstone, desert vegetation and red sand cover the landscape contrasting beautifully with the green grass of Coral’s fairways.
Given the location in southern Utah, Coral is open all year, but temperatures in the summer can reach well over 100 degrees. The last time I played the course was June 21, 2011 and the temperature was 108 when I teed off at 6:00pm.
Coral Canyon’s design is aesthetically breathtaking. Bring your camera. There are massive elevation changes from tee to fairway and from fairway to green, with forced carries over red desert areas and washes. Course architect Keith Foster did a fantastic job utilizing the complex terrain and routing the course through it.
Many of the tee shots at Coral are what I call “wow” spots.
Coral starts out with a wow on #1, and doesn’t let up until the 19th hole! Click for larger image.
When I arrive on many tees on this course, like #1 pictured above, I look all around and then say “wow.” The elevated tee shot on #10 (below) is absolutely thrilling and another “wow” spot with a massive elevation drop. Drives from the tips on this hole appear to be in the air for somewhere between 27-34 minutes.
Coral Canyon’s 10th tee. Click to enlarge.
There are many risk-reward scenarios at Coral from the tee. Fairways can run out like on the par-5 2nd hole. You can choose a shorter club than driver or 3-wood off the tee to stay safe and short of the wash, but that turns it into a 3-shot hole. More aggressive players you can try to get as close to the wash as possible and having a chance at reaching the green in two.
Hole #8 is a short par-4 which is drivable at 312 yards from the tips. I’ve hit everything from driver to 7-iron off of this tee. Choosing the aggressive route requires more accuracy. An errant drive could find the hillside right and a tough recovery shot or massive bunkering short left of the green. Great hole.
The fairways at Coral are quite large and wide, though they can sometimes look small and narrow from the tee. Many fairways are reached only after forced carries from the tee.
Though the fairways are wide, I still seem to manage missing my share at Coral. There’s not much “rough” here, just a few feet and it historically hasn’t been very deep or penal. But missing a fairway beyond the rough brings into play serious trouble, lost balls, unplayable lies and lots of first hand encounters with the thousands of rabbits which inhabit the course.
Coral has challenging but fair greens.
The greens at Coral Canyon are fun and challenging. Many have subtle breaks with one or two larger tiers or quadrants. Finding the proper level in those cases is crucial to scoring, like on the par-3 3rd hole which has a massive tier dissecting the green into two distinct surfaces. Balls which hit the green in regulation but don’t find the proper level on greens like #1, #3, #18, suddenly become very challenging two-putts.
Coral Canyon’s amenities are all top notch. Everything a golfer needs is there from a great driving range, practice green to great food. The pro shop offers great golf equipment, rental clubs, club fitting and sells some great threads which sport the Coral Canyon logo.
In addition to the pro-shop and restaurant, the clubhouse is also features a men’s and women’s locker room as well as wedding/banquet facilities.
Sets of tees: 5
Length from tips: 7,029 yards
Course rating: 73.0
I’ve played nearly every course in this beautiful state, and Coral Canyon is ranked right up at the top with a few very special courses. If you are planning a golf trip to Southern Utah, Mesquite Nevada or even Las Vegas (two hour drive), you should make it a point to play Coral Canyon.