Review: Sand Hollow Resort (Championship)

Information:

  • Hurricane, Utah
  • Public – Daily Fee
  • John Fought (2008)
  • 7th in State (Golf Digest)

Chances are if you’ve seen a photo of either red/orange rock formations on a golf course or a picture of public golf in Utah, it’s Sand Hollow’s Championship course. In the very Southwestern part of the state, almost directly between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, the course was designed by John Fought in 2008. The front is fairly front, I think its mis-intentioned goal was to mimic links style golf (one of the biggest marketing gimmicks in North America), while the back nine plays along the desert cliffs.

The course is a meaty 7315 yards, but the 447 yard opener is pretty generous off the tee. Thanks to my ignorance from seeing the course for the first time, I hit driver, but if you hit 3 wood the fairway is massive thanks to the double fairway with hole 9. The approach gives you a teaser of what’s to come; red rock formations and beautifully creative orange bunkering.

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I liked the second hole, as well. A par 5 playing upwards of 580 yards, the hole ever-so-slightly moves to the right. There’s 7, maybe 8 bunkers, and I’m no expert but avoiding those is likely ideal. One is dead centre of the fairway, but it’s carry-able, and then the green and layup area is a little tougher to navigate:

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The third is a pretty boring par 3. 208 yards, this really is a throwaway hole.

The fourth is a longer par 4 at 463 yards. We start to see some of the issues with sagebrush in front of tee boxes, making it very difficult to tell where to hit it as it’s tough to see the fairway. It’s a fairly easy fix. I’m not sure why they don’t just cut the sagebrush in front of the tees to open up visibility, but I’m not expert. It really turned me off from the front nine, but you can have a look for yourself below.

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It’s tough to tell where to hit it with desert foliage and sagebrush impairing sightlines. 

The 5th is a short par 4, measuring 355 yards. It’s surprisingly deceptive; a bunker about 60 yards short looks greenside, so you hit driver or 3 wood and think you got close to the green when you’re still a half-wedge away. This is another hole with some visual issues so the photos didn’t come out great.

The 6th is a monster par 4, playing 7 yards shy of 500 yards. It doglegs slightly to the left, with bunkering on the inside corner of the dogleg. The green is guarded by a bunker short left and right, as well as one long right.

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A good approach to a long 4 gives you challenge as well as options to play the shot. 

I didn’t really like 7, 8 or 9. I felt like 7, a 577 yard par 5 played pretty boring. It’s a slog uphill with some uninspiring bunkers plotted up the left and up the right in the driving zone, layup area and green-side. The 8th is a shorter par 3 at 162 yards, had some bush in front of the tee that made it tough to see the green. It’s not a bad hole, but rather uninspired. The 9th is a pretty difficult 433 yards because it plays straight up the slope back towards the clubhouse. This was the better hole in the finishing 3 on the front.

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The 10th, however, starts a very good stretch of golf holes. 565 on the, the tee shot plays down, while the hole comes back up.

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Some interesting bunkering and a lovely view of the southwestern desert landscape make for a great start to the bank nine

The layup, if you elect to layup, plays over a few bunkers in the middle of the fairway, whilst the short right area of the green is bunkered as well.

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The 11th is a good mid range par 3 at 190 yards. Bunkering right and sloping to the back right portion makes it play similar to a redan style template. Anything long or right literally falls off the face of the earth, so it makes sense that the left side of the hole kicks in towards the centre of the green.

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From the green, you can see the 12th hole, which is a pretty known hole, and how the green complex sits on an interesting piece of land.

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As previously stated, the 12th is probably the signature hole on the course. Below is a view of the tee shot, with the entire left side of the hole falling into abyss.

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I wasn’t as in love with this hole as other people are. It’s longer at 440, and the uphill nature of the hole makes it feel like a slog. The fairway is generous, too, and lacks overall interest. The green complex here is great, however, which makes up for it. There’s lots of interest, so I won’t spoil it for y’all!

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The 13th is a drivable par 4 at 320. It plays in the same direction as 12, so once again the left falls off pretty hard. This tee shot is a lot better, as you can elect iron, driver, 3 wood, or pretty much any club off the tee.

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I don’t remember the carry yardage, but I think I hit 3 iron off the tee and had wedge in. The approach shot plays slightly uphill too, and the left side of the green falls off again.

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The 14th is a really weird hole. At 525 yards, it plays as a par 4, so it’s a monster. The left side again falls off the same cliff, but there’s more room than the last two holes. This tee shot is utter garbage because of how blind it plays, even from a tee box up. A 525 yard par 4 with a blind tee shot seeing it for the first time with the left side falling off the continent and right side bush is not ideal in my world.

The approach shot is nice at least. Bunkering way short right and left make it visually tough to decide which bunker is actually in play.

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It’s clear the left bunkers are in play, but is the short right bunker in play? 

The 15th is a great par 3 if it played about 30 yards shorter. At 230 yards, all carry to a green fronted by a deep desert ravine short and left feels a tad excessive. Nonetheless, it’s still a fairly solid hole and enjoyable for the camera. There is a bail out short right, so at least it gives you some wiggle room.

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The 16th works back inland and towards the clubhouse on the home stretch. It’s short at 370 yards, and slightly doglegs to the right. A big bunker is short right, so a fade into the green is the play.

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The 17th is a really good par 4 1/2. At 523 yards, it’s a pretty short par 5 and a definite birdie hole. The hole moves to the left, and occupies the same land as the front nine. It’s better off the tee, though, which makes me think the front could be improved a lot by some weed wackers.

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Two bunkers on the inside corner are the main defence to this generous tee shot

After turning the corner, four bunkers and a desert wash await to gobble your ball up.

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The 18th is a good par 4, 434 finishing hole. It plays back up the slope, with a bunker in the middle of the fairway as the main defence on the tee shot.

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The approach isn’t special or anything, just requires a good solid finishing mid iron.

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I like Sand Hollow, but I don’t love it. I felt like there was opportunity here to create a really special course, and came up with a good product. Is it a beautiful golf course? No doubt, and it’s a wonderful place to spend a day. I’m actually surprised it’s not Digest Top 100 Public, as I feel like it could be on the lower end of it. I would recommend going to Sand Hollow to say you’ve been, but I’m not so sure I’d return myself. Maybe to play the other 9 and might as well play the Championship course, but nonetheless Sand Hollow is a special place in a state that golf is one of the last things one thinks about. Utah has got a gem with this course!

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