Midway in Utah is known as one of the 2002 Winter Olympic venues but it’s also home to a 36-hole facility at Soldier Hollow Golf Course. Occupying a beautiful part of the Wasatch Mountain State Park, the longer and hillier Gold layout is rated the tougher of the two tracks.
Soldier Hollow is part of the Wasatch Mountain State Park, really becoming famous with being chosen for the Nordic Skiing events of the 2002 Olympics. 2 Years later, it saw the creation of the State Park’s second 36-hole complex. Keeping with the Olympic theme, they were named the Silver and Gold courses. Quickly gaining notoriety as one of Utah’s premier public courses, the Gold Course is a mountain/links hybrid course that delivers what should be expected from this combination: dramatic rises and drops, rolling hills, and plenty of bunkers for an exciting round. It also has 5 tee boxes that from the back will prove a stern challenge for even the best. There’s a reason why it was chosen to host a USGA US Amateur Public Links Championship (discontinued in 2014). This is an impressive track record for a course less than 2 decades old, and I will attest that it’s earned its accolades.
The front 9 is one of the best publicly playable 9s in Utah. It starts out with a great warmup and only gets more interesting from there. Elevated greens, massive rises and falls, and shots across ravines, there are few dull moments when playing these holes. It delivers fully on the promise of mountain links, and your accuracy will be put to the test here, especially from the back tees.
The back 9 starts more like the Gold’s sister Silver course, with downhill links type holes that aren’t nearly as dramatic as the front 9. It fortunately does pick back up with the final 4 holes, returning to the challenging and demanding mountain/links hybrid holes.
If the order of the 9s seems like a bizarrely backwards design choice, that’s because it wasn’t. The current order was an unfortunate response to an unintended consequence of the original order. Since the Silver and Gold courses started out right next to each other, many players would come to “play” the Silver, and then sneak onto the Gold instead. This was obviously a problem for the course that I can only imagine led to horrendously long wait times during peak business, so the course cracked down by swapping the order to make sneaking onto the Gold course impossible. Still, don’t let this get in the way of enjoying a still rock-solid course, as it doesn’t make the course’s best holes any less great.
1: A great introductory hole that does what any good intro should do, demonstrate what to expect without being too brutal. Pick your second shot wisely to reach the elevated green.
3: A hillside uphill par 5, long hitters will need a good drive to reach green in two. Just beware of the bunkers guarding the green.
5: A moderately long green demanding a carry across the ravine, has a generous drop zone in front for failures.
6: The most demanding tee-box from the back tees, it requires a good drive across the ravine to reach the fairway. It’s fortunately downhill from there.
7: Wouldn’t be a mountain course without some dramatically downhill par 3s, would it? Don’t hook it left or else.
9: Long par 4 with a big drop to the green. Pick your second shot with that in mind.
11: A supposedly long par 5, long hitters can cut off the dog leg and get an easy 2 shot to the green. Amusingly, this led to the amateur event using the Silver’s hole 17 in its place.
15: A very uphill par 4, it has two fairway branches to approach the green from, with tons of bunkers on the left side.
17: Another downhill par 3, the big left-side bunker will ensure misses to the left are extra painful.
18: An appropriate final test hole, it’s a long par 4 with a downhill drive and river to cross to reach the green. Ensures that a great score must be earned on this course.
It’s unfortunate that the order had to be changed, but it still remains one of Northern Utah’s best public courses. It’s equal parts great price and great layout, and if you have the Utah PGA book there’s very little reason not to check it out for its insanely good $14 round promotion. There may be better courses in some of Northern Utah’s illustrious private courses. But to those without such connections and even for those that do, Soldier Hollow’s Gold course is worth checking out for Utah visitors.
Correction: I said that the US Amateur Public Links swapped for Silver hole 17, when I meant to say Silver hole 11. I apologize for this error.
If you ask most people who play Solider Hollow the common talking point starts with the modest fees to play. The architecture is sound but far from riveting. Yes, the facility did host the USGA's now defunct Public Links Championship. But even with a yardage that tops out at over 7,700 yards it's important to point out the impact of the elevation and how golf balls can fly obscene distances when struck solidly.
Gene Bates is a quality architect but his better work in the Beehive State is found at places such as Thanksgiving Point in Lehi. Although one is led to believe it's the sole handiwork of Johnny Miller.
The layout of the Gold features ample width fairways but it's more of a grip and rip experience.
Yes, there's no question the beauty of the surroundings makes for an enjoyable day.
No question, the Gold is worth checking out for the affordable fees to play. And, if Solider Hollow were located in either Aspen or Vale the costs woud easily be double or triple during peak playing months. However, with that said, for architectural bloodhounds you'll quickly lose the scent and wish to seek more thought provoking designs elsewhere.
M. James Ward
Soldier Hollow is a wonderful public recreation facility. Two golf courses, skiing, biking, a tremendous community asset.
The Gold course is the mountain course and is riding only. I do disagree with this position. It would be a tough walk, but the hilliest part is the front side. The first hole is a welcoming par 4. Take an extra club on this uphill approach. The 2nd is a long downhill par 4. I would favor the left off the tee. Big hitters can reach the par 5 3rd in two. For the rest of us, favor the left off the tee and the right for your second shot to set up a flip wedge. Not sure why this has the number one handicap moniker. The 4th is a good birdie oppty, dogleg left. You can cut the corner to set up an attack approach. The first par 3 is mid-length and while you do have to carry a ravine, it really shouldn’t come in to play. Well, unless you chunk it like I did. The 6th is a big boy hole, 511 yard par four from the tips. The 7th is a long downhill par 3, take one less club than you think. The 8th is a reachable par five for even normal golfers. Favor the left off the tee. If you go for it, I would also suggest starting your second shot left as it lists right and the front bunker eats lots of golf balls up. The 9th is a slight dogleg left. Favor the right off the tee.
The back starts with four scoring holes. The 1oth bends a wee bit right, favor the left side off the tee and you may be rewarded by hitting a speed slot on your drive. The 11th is a reachable downhill par 5. Favor the left off the tee. This is a well guarded green. The 12th is a forgettable mid-yardage par 3. Favor the left on the 13th to set up the best approach angle. The 14th and 15th are long par fours and to add to the difficulty we are starting back up hill. The 16th is a 3 shot par 5. Favor the right side off the tee and you definitely need to be right on the second shot. The hole falls off to the left. The 17th is a long down-hill par 3. If you do not hit the green, par will be difficult. The 18th is a good finishing hole. Long with a water hazard right and a stream in front of the green.
A good course and a great value.
Brought a group of 8 So Cal golfers on a buddies trip to Utah and everyone raved about Soldier Hollow Gold. No one could believe it was only 50 bucks.
Hosted a US Pub Links a few years ago which tells you it’s big boy golf at its best. It’s at top of my must play list every time I come to Utah