Featuring wonderful links-like topography within a spectacular setting, the 27-hole Sand Hollow resort facility – with its fabulous 18-hole Championship course complemented by a delightful 9-hole Links layout – was constructed entirely out of native red sand by architect John Fought.
The Championship layout extends to almost 7,300 yards, with golfers afforded amazing views of the surrounding landscape from the red rock outcrops that proliferate the front nine. Pronounced elevation changes across a dramatic ridge line dominate proceedings on the back nine, prompting immediate repeat play requests from many of the players who tee it up here for the first time.
Visiting golfers should note that the use of a cart is compulsory on the Championship course.
Head Professional Adam Jasperson kindly provided us with the following comments:
“Our scorecard is rated by the USGA and shows that hole 6 is the most difficult but, in my opinion, hole 18 is the toughest for a few reasons. It’s typically the last hole of the day and it can be after a long four-hour grind that you address your final tee shot at this uphill par four. The fairway is spotted with bunkers at 230-260 yards and 250-280 yards, located at the landing areas for an array of players. The green is protected by another four bunkers and the putting surface isn’t visible from the fairway so this hole will test both your physical and mental ability.
Hole 15 is without a doubt our signature hole, known as “Devil’s Throat”. It features no fewer than eleven tee boxes, allowing shots of between 160 yards and 245 yards downhill to the two-tier green. The right side of the green is protected with knee-high grasses and bunkers whilst a cliff skirts the left side and has been known to consume errant tee shots with ease. Coming so late in the round, a big number taken at this dangerous hole will ruin a good medal score or swing a tight match play game in favour of your opponent.”
Sand Hollow first caught my attention about 4 years ago. I had seen a picture in some other forums and the stunning cliffside holes just didn't look real. Truly bringing back memories of the impossible golf hole calendars from the 1980s(?) Remember those holes over the Grand Canyon, or on top of a K2?
The championship course in Hurricane remained a distant day-dream until the summer of 2021. My regular playing partner and I had debated making the two hours and fifteen minutes' drive from Las Vegas for a couple of seasons, but kept telling ourselves that it couldn't possibly be a better choice than Wolf Creek in Mesquite, NV. We play Wolf Creek 4 -10 times a year and love it so much that it's hard to pull ourselves away from that gem to try something else.
With little else to do during the Pandemic, and while neither of us were working, it became easier to pull the trigger during the week when rates were lower, and in the afternoon when it was too hot for most players, and we could have the course to ourselves. So, with no more excuses, we went.
I'm glad we did.
Utah likes to call themselves home of The Mighty 5. Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capital Reef and Zion National Parks. Well, if you're familiar with the incredible landscape and rock formations in this part of the world, then you'll be happy to know that Sand Hollow is a stone's throw from Zion. 33 miles away you'll find some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. People come from all over the globe to visit Zion NP, and it's a good thing they aren't all golfers, otherwise you'd never be able to get a tee-time at Sand Hollow.
If you've been to ZNP, then maybe you'll agree with my assessment; "smaller than I thought it would be." Turns out all the spectacular landscape can't stretch on forever. The same might be said for Sand Hollow. They certainly had an excellent piece of property on which to carve out a golf course, but it's not endless. As a result, the front nine sort of suffers. The driving range is a good introduction to the insane views on offer later in the day, and if you've arrived at Sand Hollow from the south via Highway 7, then you got a sneak peak of the majestic cliffside holes on the second nine. But the novelty of the red sand, and the distant mountains better be enough to whet your appetite on the front nine, because it's not all that remarkable otherwise until you make the turn and get into the goods starting at the 11th.
The day we played, the Par 3 measured 154yds from the white tees. A very intimidating 9 iron. A large deep bunker protects the right side of the green, but also protects you from dropping off the course! Not a terribly bad place for errant tee shots but, a tough crater to get out of that's for sure.
The fun really starts on the Par 4 12th. As you drive through what might be described as a slot canyon, you emerge at the edge of the world. The number two handicap hole measures 372yds from the white tees and your eyes are stunned by all 372 of them. Elevated tee. Fairway lined by a stone wall on the right and a cliff on the left. How the heck did they ever put a hole here!?
The Par 4 13th is much shorter at 261 Yds from white tees, which leads it to being only the 14th handicap hole, but visually it's just as stunning and a great follow up to the 12th. They both play slightly up hill, with the already mentioned cliffs, and some greenside bunkers thrown in for good measure.
There's no let up on the Par 4 14th, the number 4 handicap hole measures 411 yards and while the cliffsides are less intimidating, the heart might still be racing, so you'll have to calm your nerves a bit and catch your breath or risk a big number.
If you think you're out of the woods (rocks!) by the time you get to the Par 3 15th, you're not. If you're up for the challenge step back to the black tees and play through the stone towers from 230 yards. The blues are a healthy 191 and even the more user-friendly whites play from an eye-popping 158, eye popping because of the view, not the distance. The hole owes its #8 handicap rating partially to the wild tee locations and obstacles, and partly the small green. Par is a fabulous score here and bogey isn't too shabby either.
The final 3 holes swing you back towards the well-stocked clubhouse for a post round sunset drink on the patio overlooking the 9th and 18th. The highlight of the last three is probably the 17th, with some fairway-crossing desert wasteland providing a risk reward "layup or not layup" choice for all levels of players.
I haven't played them yet, but I can't imagine any of the other St. George courses being better than this, though there are some rather uninspired holes on the front nine. That said, Sand Hollow is certainly one of the best courses in Southwestern Utah and the resort is nice too, making it a very enjoyable overnighter.
The Rating: 4.5 Eagle Lip Out (Very Good) One of the best courses in the region, warranting an overnight stop.
Players who have seen the other courses in the region may give the nod to Sand Hollow and rate it a 5 and all the other courses as 4.5s, but I'm knocking off half a point because of the inclusion of the less than awesome holes not along the cliff. Are there more consistently awesome courses in the region? I don't think so, but I'll let you know once I've played them too. For now, I have hopes that there are some equally great places without the "misses" of half the holes.
What is there to say about Sand Hollow that hasn't been said already? Being consistently rated as the number 1 public course in Utah, and often the number 1 (such as here) even over the private Park City Courses by world-class architects, that leaves expectations loftier than a 68-degree wedge. Combined with being the most expensive public course in Utah, there's reason to be skeptical if it's worthy of the hype. The answer, in my humble opinion, is yes, it really is that good. It's a consistently amazing course throughout and the back 9 in particular have some of the most spectacular holes that you can play. And, if you don't mind the summer heat, it can be quite affordable too.
The front 9 isn't the famous part of the course, but it's excellent in its own right. It weaves through the landscape between, and even over, the rock formations of the local area. A fun layout in its own right.
Obviously, the back 9 are what makes Sand Hollow a world class golf course. Starts simple enough, and the 11th par 3 gives a first glimpse of what's to come. Then the next 4 holes are some of the most visually stunning holes out there, being built into the cliffside and offering gorgeous views of the valley below. Pictures alone can't do them justice, they really are holes you have to play to believe.
-2nd: The first par 5 of the course, the sandstone formation to the right provides a dramatic backdrop to the hole.
-6th: The longest par 4 of the course, the uphill shot to downhill second and rock in the middle make it feel like you're playing up and down one of the rock formations.
-12th: The first of the cliffside holes, an uphill par 4 that's the longest of the 9 too. Hit a good drive to get on in 2.
-13th: The second of the cliffside holes, it's a potentially driveable par 4, but is heavily guarded. Approach the green carefully.
-15th: The grand finale of the cliffside holes, it's the longest par 3 of the course. Hit it good and straight onto the green, because the room for error is very slim on this one.
Even for a region as stacked with great courses as St. George/Mesquite, Sand Hollow is a standout. With a great front 9 and truly exceptional back 9, it delivers an experience a player won't likely forget for some time. The architects John Fought and Andy Staples should be proud to have constructed such an amazing course and acclaimed. If you have the time and money to visit St. George, not only should Sand Hollow be on your list, it's worthy of saving for last as the finale of the trip, and worth a stop for golfers driving through.
Sand Hollow is one of the "must play" courses of Utah. It definitely can be said that it has 2 very unique 9's. The front nine winds through the "inland" of the property with a very links like feel. The back nine goes onto the mesa cliffs and it is truly like playing on the edge of the earth. Often I feel that the views on the back nine overshadow some of the great architectural features of the course.
I would never pass up an opportunity to play Sand Hollow
Got the chance to play Sand Hollow and have sit in a presentation by John Fought about his experience in laying out Sand Hollow. It's a very fine course which utilizes the topography of the area quite well. The colors of the landforms in the area are unique and add to the visual attraction of the course. There are a number of excellent holes and a feeling of being on the edge which seems impossible given where the course is located. The par 3 which has a tee box in a canyon chute is one of the most unique holes anywhere. Just get there and enjoy this fabulous course.
With so many great tracks in the state of Utah, getting the nod as #1 came w lofty expectations. Sand Hollow crushed those expectations from the very first shot until the last putt fell on 18. Fantastic staff, fantastic routing and perfect conditions. Played it about 5 times over 2 weeks in April and enjoyed every second of it. The back 9 has some incredible views and one great hole after another. I have driven passed SH for 15 years heading for “other” golf courses. That will never happen again as it is worthy of the ranking of top course in Utah
Best course in the area. I love the contrast of the red sand against the red mountains. The front nine is good but nothing to write home about. The back nine on the other hand… Absolutely breathtaking! This course is an absolute must play if you are in the area.
I was very lucky to have the opportunity to play Sand Hollow which is in the Mormon state of a Utah and is just a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas. The unique aspect to this course apart from the stunning desert backdrop is its Mars sand like bunkers which gives it an other-worldly feel.
The opening hole is a generous par 4 with one of the widest fairways you're ever likely to play. You could play the tee shot blindfolded like Chevy Chase in Caddyshack and still find the fairway. How you play the hole entirely depends on your approach shot to the green, but it is a nice way to ease yourself into the round. And that's similar how the course largely plays until you get to the 9th hole which has more elevation than the others with the hole gradually rising all the way to a green quite high up and the superb clubhouse perched behind it.
The 10th is a lovely tee shot looking down on a long generous par 5 fairway and the 11th a good par 3 where you have to aim left of the green so the ball feeds right onto the sloping left to right green. Lovely vistas across the Mars-esque dunescape greet you when you finally arrive at the green.
One of the signature holes is the iconic 12th. A glorious par 4, you tee off from an elevated tee to what looks like a relatively thin strip of lush green fairway sandwiched between desert rock on the right and a cliff on the left. The hole goes pretty straight all the way upwards to the green which is protected by deep bunkers on the right. It is an absolutely stunning hole and is almost worth making the journey here to play it.
The 13th is a driveable par 4 from a raised tee and another visually cracking hole. The 15th is Sand Hollow's actual signature hole being a beautiful par 3. You tee off between some amazing rock formations to a two-tiered green and a mesmerising backdrop that only Utah can provide. Finding this green in one gave me goosebumps.
The par 4 18th is a suitably great finishing hole. The hole plays uphill and a dogleg left towards the clubhouse and a rock formation sitting next to it and is littered with those huge planet Mars sand-filled bunkers.
Sand Hollow was quite a journey to play it but nevertheless a journey I am very glad to have made. The course was in excellent condition, with true greens and I went home with memories that will last for a lifetime.