Looking back toward the tee, the picturesque downhill 423-yard 17th plays much shorter, but defines the style of beautiful desert target golf that you will encounter at Conestoga. Accuracy is paramount. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
There is a lot of good, no make that great golf in the Mesquite-St. George area, but it was the Conestoga Golf Club that really took me by surprise. Opening in January, 2010 this is an engaging layout with unmistakable beauty and also some personality that may quietly be my favorite of the Mesquite portion of the menu.
Golfers putt out on the par-five 9th hole with the par-three 10th hole in the background. These are about the only holes where a pond or housing has much of a presence. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
Golf course architect Gary Panks is one of the really more unsung ones who has designed some excellent golf courses in the Southwest, and I’ll put Conestoga right up there with his best. The layout occupies a special site in that part of it enjoys expansive vistas from its elevated back nine while the front nine delves into a pristine canyon area that should largely be left undisturbed by housing. It all makes for a wonderfully engaging canvas and Panks does not disappoint.
Though the fairways are ample, you dare not leave them and hope to score. Here is the tee shot at the par-five 6th. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
What’s so great about Conestoga? Well, the aesthetics are spectacular with the routing weaving between desert canyons into higher elevations. While there are not quite the elevations changes of The Oasis, Wolf Creek, or Falcon Ridge, the views are nearly as impressive. The layout is also quirky with blind tee shots at the third and fourth holes quickly coming to mind – a feature you may or may not like though I count them as two of the most memorable holes in the region. There is variety in the size of the fairway landing areas that ranges from encouraging a full-out Driver attack to sage accuracy and lay-ups. The bunkering is superb and fits the terrain and the shot at hand. From the tips, Conestoga’s 7,232 yards and slope/rating of 142/74.9 offer a substantial challenge though the forward tees are a more modest 5,017 yards offering fair versatility.
There is water, deep bunkering, undulating fast true greens, but it is the unforced attractive manner in which the course is shaped that really impressed me. My camera and attention were ready on every hole!
Get your camera out early at Conestoga. This is the 188-yard second hole that drops 100 feet from tee to green. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
After a solid opening par-four, you are greeted by no less than seven “Wow!” holes in a row! I will also offer that Conestoga has easily the best set of par-threes in the region if not beyond – simply spectacular! The par-fives provide the relief in the challenge, but the 536-yard 6th is a dazzler.
The back nine sits on higher property with more expansive views much in the manner of several of the other area courses. The 148-yard “Postage Stamp” hole at the 14th sits out in the desert all by its lonesome self. Similar to the 15th at Sand Hollow or the 6th at Coral Canyon in nearby St. George, it is one of those solitary all-or-nothing green islands that require a pretty fair shot. From there, you head back down the hill with three striking two-shotters in particular.
As mentioned, the 148-yard 14th is literally an island “green” in the middle of the desert. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)
As I reflect back on my experience playing Conestoga, I can’t help but be impressed with everything about the layout. The service, clubhouse and practice facilities, and of course, the golf course make for a place I could enjoy everyday!
Below, a long, accurate drive sets up this approach shot into the 418-yard 3rd hole on what is probably the most demanding tee shot at Conestoga. (Photo by Robert S. Fagan)