Golfers are constantly searching for the next great destination. With so many to choose from – from Hawaii to South Florida just in the U.S – that “new” destination is hard to find.
One such destination, however, is the Greater Zion area near St. George in the southwest corner of Utah. Granted, the area already is known for such outstanding courses as Sand Hollow Resort in Hurricane, but now Greater Zion is upping its game with a, well, greater emphasis on golf through “Golf Plus,’ ’as well as the opening next Spring of Copper Rock Golf Course in Hurricane.
Designed by Dale Beddo (bet you’ve never heard of him), Copper Rock Golf Course is the centerpiece of a 943-acre golf course community. . At 6,800 yards from the back tees, Copper Rock’s wide fairways wind up and down through the rugged red rock terrain and offers up some stunning long-range views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
If you didn’t know Copper Rock was designed by a local professional, you’d swear it carried the design name of Nicklaus, Fazio, Jones or Hanse. Yes, it’s that good. It deserves to be on the short list of “best new’’ courses for 2020.
Aside from the homes, some of which will carry multi-million price tags, there are plans to build a boutique hotel and offer stay and play packages. But that’s looking at least three years down the road, according to Cameron Knudson, Copper Rock’s development manager. In the meantime, for those who want to be among the first to play Copper Rock next Spring, the best accommodations will be at Sand Hollow Resort or at The Ledges in St. George.
You can’t go wrong with either of those properties. Sand Hollow, about a 20-minute drive from the water and off-road activities of Sand Hallow State Park, has guest rooms and suits, condominiums and vacation homes to go along with its outstanding John Fought-designed golf course.
Fought’s design of the 7,300-yard Championship Course (the resort also has a nine-hole Links Course) starts out with a calm front nine layout, then soars high on top of the bluffs on the back nine. The 11th through 15th holes might be as picturesque stretch of golf as you’ll find anywhere in the West.
Be prepared, however, for a round that tops out at well more than four hours, as the back nine takes some navigating and the group ahead of you always seems to be stopped to take pictures.
The Ledges is a golf course community that offers single-family home rentals and vacation villas. Each are popular for golf “buddy’’ trips and for families looking to play the property’s Matt Dye-designed, golf course, hike nearby Snow Canyon State Park or explore Zion National Park, about one hour away.
Dye’s 7,200-yard desert-style layout plays against a red rock backdrops with expansive views of Snow Canyon State Park, particularly on the par-five, seventh hole. Overall, it’s a solid, straight forward course with no tricks – most of the trouble is easily seen from each of the four sets of tees.
And be sure to make time for a lesson or two with Paul Holden. The Ledges’ director of golf is one of the top instructors on the West.
Greater Zion’s temperate winter makes for good golf conditions on each the 12 (soon to be 13 with Copper Rock) courses within 20 miles of St. George.
For golfers looking for extended visits, a number of hotels and lodging properties in the St. George/Washington County area offer stay-and-play packages. For those seeking a customized package, Greater Zion offers several golf concierge services that can develop curated vacations for individuals and groups – an example of the area’s commitment to golf.
In addition, a plethora of events throughout the Winter season, including Winter 4×4 Jamboree, St. George Half Marathon and the Hurricane Mountain Bike Festival provide opportunities to explore beyond the golf courses. That’s the “Golf Plus” equation.
Then there is Zion National Park. One of the country’s more popular parks, Zion is best known for its steep canyons and hiking trails that run the gamut from easy to dangerous. Shuttle buses take park visitors to the various hiking trail stops throughout Zion Canyon.
For golfers looking for extended visit specials, a number of hotels and lodging properties in the area offer stay-and-play packages. For those seeking a customized package, Greater Zion offers several golf concierge services that can develop curated vacations for individuals and groups. St. George is only 100 miles from Las Vegas and its airport brings in direct flights from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Salt Lake City and Denver.
“The courses themselves are great,’’ Greater Zion Convention & Tourism Office Director
Kevin Lewis said. “They just have a little bit of a different flavor – and we’re going to celebrate that. One turn of the eye you see another impression of something that will last forever.’’
Feature Photo: Copper Rock Golf Course