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.
Date: July 07, 2021