Golf Course Review: Sand Hollow Resort, Hurricane, Utah

 The cliff immediately left of Sand Hollow’s 12th fairway drops off more than 300 feet! Below is the view looking back from beyond the putting surface.

 

The Sand Hollow Resort boasts an 18-hole layout that is rightfully ranked among the best golf courses in Utah along with a newer Links Nine (a second links-style nine is projected to join it ). All were designed by the skilled hand of former touring professional John Fought.

 

In an age when many golf course architects bulldoze a piece of property into submission to fit their own style (think Tom Fazio or Jack Nicklaus), Sand Hollow is a fresh example of minimalist golf. Unlike some of his own previous work in which he built the canvas, Fought took the rural high plains that gaze down upon nearby St. George to the southeast and has left the landscape intact and crafted an outstanding golf experience. He was greeted with naturally sandy soil that drains well and subsequently simply cleared desert brush to create massive fairways that complement the expansive vista offered on the property. Of course, he did much more than that with the routing, shaping, drainage, irrigation, etc., but the look and feel suggest he merely took what was provided him.

 

 There is a naturalness and simplicity to Sand Hollow’s beauty that is truly refreshing and therapeutic!

As you enter this early stage resort community, your heartbeat quickens as you approach the rock outcroppings and hilltop clubhouse setting. This is going to be fun, you think – and you are right! Sand Hollow is a treeless property with head-twisting 360 degree vistas exposed entirely to the elements – with two different looks between the two courses. Both work.

 

If you have heard raves about Sand Hollow original course, you may be questioning them as you complete the front nine, which some may term underwhelming. Though Fought throws some deep, large, imposing bunkering at you, the look is fairly benign and the adjoining housing on a couple of holes hardly qualifies as a unique look. Deception bunkers, false fronts, and tumbling putting surfaces make the challenge more interesting than first meets the eye. The golf gets a bit more glamorous as you finish the last few holes on the opening mind, but if you only played this nine you might still leave wondering what all the fuss is about.

 

Actually, this front nine build-up is all part of the pacing as Fought is developing a flow of anticipation toward the spectacular vistas from holes 10 through 15th that will indelibly burn in your golfing memory forever. As you head out on the par-five 10th, your anticipation heightens until an audible “Wow!” emerges from both your gut and vocal chords as you approach the par-three 11th and s glance on the stunning vistas beyond.

 

 The par-three 15th shown above and below. It is the final of four holes that play along the cliff and the views are breathtaking. Looking back below is the view from the green back toward some of the tees.

 

 

 

 

The 9th green on the Links Nine like the other putting surfaces possesses all kinds of intricacies and completes a nine that is expansive and beautiful in its simplicity.

Words do not begin to describe the rocks to the right and the sheer canyon drop-offs to the left as you play the stretch from 12 through 15. This is SPECTACULAR GOLF!  The routing returns to inward to the clubhouse for a thoughtful and challenging decompression finish to your round, but the impression has been made. Sand Hollow is quite an experience!

 

For all the “eye candy” that surrounds you, your score may have suffered due to the speedy quick and undulating greens that architect Fought has deployed. They spill off onto the sides and have some severity as well as sweeps that will require all your creativity to score well. At 7,315 yards, the length of Sand Hollow is not really the challenge, the putting surfaces are.

 

There is not a single routine or mundane putting surface in the 27 at Sand Hollow. Shown above is the par-four 14th that is perched aside the cliff in an infinity theme and tumbles away from the fairway approach. Below is the par-four “Road Hole” on the Links Nine as defined by the rock wall.

 

Then there is the par-36 3,687-yard Links Nine. If the original layout is a natural piece of untouched property, this is even more so. Scruffy edged bunkering and lay-of-the-land putting surfaces hide no attempt or transform the piece of property. Tee-to-green the challenge appears simple enough if you can avoid the bunkers. That is not too difficult as the fairways are very broad. The catch again is that Fought has again crafted some diabolical undulating putting surfaces that when speeded up, nicely defend par. There are a few holes that are intended to resemble more famous ones such as the 468-yard “Road Hole.” While the back nine of the original layout will no doubt dazzle you, this is a fun nine that I can’t wait to see how the yet-to-be built second “Links Nine” will come to complete this.

Architect John Fought provides scruffy edged natural bunkering and lay-of-the-land shaped features for the Links Nine that looks as if it has always been there.

 

Sand Hollow’s attractive modern clubhouse features views you never tire of and a similar attraction awaits at the expansive practice facilities. There is a lot of versatility built into the golf here. Position the holes at challenging spots and the layouts have championship ilk to them while there are no extended forced carries allowing the casual golfer to roll their ball around the layout.

 

From the clubhouse above to the practice range below, the looks are clean, expansive, and natural – a joy to behold!

Sand Hollow features two distinctive looks and styles, both variations on the minimalist theme, and all spectacular. Here is a treat that golfers must fit into their itinerary!

 

The short par-four 13th is drivable, but the putting surface sticks out by the cliff like an infinity green with little margin for error and that cliff to the left drops off hundreds of feet.

Below Sand Hollow designer John Fought (right) and author Bob Fagan (left) together before playing.

 

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