Starting the Surge in St. George

I usually end up taking some sort of golf trip around my birthday. I went a few days early this year for a few reasons. I was looking at different destinations that were moderately affordable, reasonably close to drive to and packed with new courses for me to play. I was considering Flagstaff/Sedona, which is a region I really haven’t explored yet. However, the weather there was questionable looking with monsoon thunderstorms forecasted most afternoons. I do know the weather in AZ has been wacky lately and it seems even more unpredictable up in the mountainous areas.

After further consideration, I ended up deciding it was a good time to make my return to St. George, UT. It’s just 40 minutes or so past Mesquite, NV, though you always have to remember it’ll technically take you an hour and 40 minutes to make the drive because of the different time zone in Utah. The good news is that it’s a negative 20-minute drive coming back the other way!

I made a full checklist of every course I hadn’t yet played between St. George and nearby Hurricane. There were 11 total considering I had already played Sand Hollow (Championship), Coral Canyon and Green Spring on previous visits. I had courses on my list that were for sure priorities and then others that would be played if I had time. I turns out time was not an issue with long days, hot weather and no crowds whatsoever. Over the course of just three days, I ended up playing all 11 courses on my checklist along with one bonus round back in Mesquite just for good measure. Rounds were quick and as affordable as they get during Southern Utah’s offseason. Conditions were certainly less than perfect everywhere, but it was still a great time to surge through everything St. George has to offer.

Let’s get started with the first couple reviews…

The Ledges Golf Club • St. George, UT • 8/2/18

This was one of the priority course stops on my list and it was actually the reason I did the trip a little early. I was originally planning for next week, but The Ledges is already shut down for the week for maintenance as I write this post. It ended up working out fine to move the trip up a week, though.

I had a 7:00 tee time on Thursday morning. The summer rate was $55, which actually makes The Ledges one of the most expensive daily fee courses around here this time of year. I drove up most of the way the day before and stayed in Mesquite. There was a little bit of a morning crowd here. The mornings were generally pretty mild before heating up quite a bit by 10:00 or so. The pro shop guy said I was paired with a threesome, but actually asked if I wanted to go off first by myself. Of course, I said “yes” and I was teeing it up just before 7:00. I had to play around some maintenance on the back nine, but it was still the first of many very quick rounds. Seriously, between Thursday and Friday I did not have a single round longer than about two hours and 15 minutes! Most were closer to two hours or less. It was insane how well it all worked out.

The Ledges is well known for being a “tale of two nines.” Honestly, courses with multiple personalities is kind of a St. George thing. It’s a very common trait around here to have wildly different landscapes and design styles integrated on the same course. The Ledges is one of the more prominent examples in town. It was designed by Matt Dye.

The front nine is very tame with more of a linksy style. It is flat and pretty wide open without much trouble to get into. There aren’t many bunkers directly in play, the greens are gigantic and there are some natural undulations throughout the course to provide some contour. It does offer some nice scenery with open vistas in each direction and I had some cool sunrise angles, but it’s a pretty mild design on this side.

Then, not long after you make the turn and go across the street, the course does change dramatically. You go into the canyons for the majority of the back nine. It starts with the steep uphill par-5 11th. After that, you have the signature par-3 12th, which plays along a canyon hillside with the rugged desert and red rock mountains off to the right. The next few holes are pretty fun and definitely scenic, culminating in the short par-4 15th.

I’m not sure this hole is a great design with a forced lay-up for all but the longest of bombers who may be able to carry the green. The elevated tee shot has you hitting over a forced carry to kind of an island fairway before you hit over another big ravine to the green. The ravine continues along the left side and behind the green, so you definitely don’t want to pull or overhit your approach. Behind the green is a canyon wall that frames the hole nicely. This is definitely the standout hole at The Ledges.

The course was in pretty good overall shape for late summer, and this will be a pretty common theme for the whole trip. It looked a little better from afar than close-up. Everything was green and looked good in pix, but the turf was a little spotty throughout. Some dead spots, some thin spots and some great spots. More than adequate for summer. The rough mostly pretty good with some clumpy sections here and there. The tee boxes were good, but a few of the whites could use some leveling out. I was in one bunker. It was nicely raked/dragged, but the sand was quite thin and firm underneath. The greens were very good. They were receptive and rolling well at medium speeds with some minor blemishes here and there. After their upcoming maintenance, I presume they will be even nicer once the aeration punches are fully healed.

The back nine was definitely more to my liking than the front, but it actually didn’t “wow” me as much as I expected it to. It’s a cool flip of the switch on the back nine, though, and overall the The Ledges is a distinctive enough layout that it should on your list to consider when planning a golf trip to Southern Utah. I should also say that if you have never been to St. George before and you happen to play this course first, you will probably be blown away by it. This area sets the bar pretty high in terms of beautiful scenery as you’ll see in the pictures.

Some pictures from The Ledges Golf Club (8/2/18):

(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)

My next actual tee time was not until 1:00, so I had plenty of time in between rounds after finishing so quickly at The Ledges. My original plan was to try and squeeze in the 9-hole Dixie Red Hills course. However, when I called over they told me they had the women’s club out on the course that morning. Either way, I actually had enough time for another full 18, so I called around and the next course said to come on out because it was pretty wide open…

St. George Golf Club • St. George, UT • 8/2/18

This was one of a couple “if I have enough time” course options on my checklist. Turns out, I had the time on the first day of the trip. It’s kind of on the opposite side of town compared to The Ledges, but it was still a pretty easy 20-minute drive. There was some major construction along Bluff Street, which came into play several times for me going back and forth to different courses. Otherwise, it is very quick and easy to get around St. George. The freeway onramps, offramps and overpasses here look a bit wacky, but actually seem to be pretty efficient.

I arrived at St. George Golf around 9:45 and was teeing off a few minutes later. The price was $33 with a cart. I could see some people scattered throughout the course, but spread out enough that I wouldn’t have a problem playing through or jumping around if needed. I did play through a few groups along the way and then played behind a slower twosome for the latter half of the back nine, but I was still making great time and didn’t need to force the issue at that point.

St. George is one of four municipal courses run by the city. The others include Sunbrook, Dixie Red Hills and Southgate, and it’s actually a pretty nice collection of munis that are very affordable and seem to be well-managed.

St. George Golf Club isn’t going to give you the super-dramatic views or design elements of the local resort courses, but I will say it was more interesting than I expected it to be. You do have a few nice background scenes (all the mountains and canyons around this area is so distinctive and pretty) and the layout has some character. There are a few quirky holes on the front nine as you work your way out and back. The back nine opens up a bit, but brings more water hazards into play.

My favorite hole was probably the 9th, which is a solid par-5 that brings water into play up by the green and offers a nice approach view with the mountains in the distance.

I’m not sure which of the back nine par-3s they would consider the “signature” hole, but both 12 and 16 are similarly good requiring forced carries over water hazards. Neither has much room short of the green, so be sure and use enough club.

Conditions were just okay. Everything here was pretty dried out, though there were some muddy spots too. The turf is kind of a dry, crusty desert bermuda that is somehow both thin and fluffy at the same time. You know what I mean if you’ve ever played it, and I encountered it quite a bit on this trip. Overall, it was adequate enough for a course of this caliber. I was in one bunker and it was decent. The greens were pretty good, though, and that’s what’s most important this time of year.

They did have the par-4 14th hole playing as a temporary par-3 as they put new sod down in the fairway. Likewise, they were working on the tee boxes of the par-5 15th hole, so everything was moved up to the forward tees.

St. George Golf Club is certainly not a “must play” for this area and traveling golfers will not need to pay too much attention to it—unless they want to play everything or just want an affordable round without much fanfare. Otherwise, this is just a local muni that isn’t aiming to be anything else.

Some pictures of St. George Golf Club (8/2/18):

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