Under the St. George Sun

Before my recent trip to St. George, I had 11 potential courses on my checklist that I hadn’t yet played. Before noon on the second day, I only had three left! Uncrowded courses, affordable rates and quick rounds made it easy to keep playing.

Yet, the heat seemed to crank up an extra notch by Friday afternoon, so I was starting to get worn out. However, I just kept going…

Bloomington Country Club • St. George, UT • 8/3/18

Of all the courses on my list, this was the one I really wasn’t really expecting to play. I didn’t think I’d have enough time or energy to squeeze it in. Plus, it’s a private club and I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to access it. Prior to my trip, I did my research online. I didn’t find any helpful info on Bloomington’s website that might imply it was anything other than members-only.

However, all my rounds were going quickly and I knew pretty early on that time would not be a hindrance if I was able to get on out here. In talking with some pro shop guys at other courses, they made it sound like I probably wouldn’t have any problem getting on Bloomington this time of year—especially in the afternoons when hardly anyone is playing.

After finishing up at Southgate, I went ahead and called over to Bloomington. After a brief discussion, the guy in the pro shop offered a “member for a day” rate of $50. He also mentioned it was pretty wide open out there at the moment as most of the morning member groups were just finishing up. I got over there and teed off around 12:30 by myself. I played most of the course without anyone in front of me and didn’t catch anyone until the last few holes. Another quick round in the books!

I really didn’t know much about this course beforehand. It’s not one you ever hear much about, largely because it is private and kept well off the radar. The course was built in 1969, so it is one of the older courses in the St. George area. Beyond that, I have to say it’s probably the least interesting layout in town. It’s not as scenic as most other Southern Utah courses, the terrain is pretty flat and the holes aren’t terribly interesting. It has its moments, but there wasn’t much I’ll remember about it over time compared to every other course I played (including the low-end local munis).

Even the conditions were pretty comparable to the muni courses, though I will say the bunkers were good and the greens were nice. These were the firmest greens I encountered all trip, and they were rolling smooth at medium/fast speeds.

There is some construction going on around here, and I heard somewhere along the way that they may be building a resort here. If that’s the case, I imagine them offering stay and play access like Entrada does. However, this is far from Entrada in every way. Beyond that, I don’t know any further details and I don’t really care enough to research it further. When I played, they had what is usually the par-5 18th hole moved up and playing as a temporary par-3. They did have temp scorecards printed, so I’m guessing it’s been that way for at least a little while. I didn’t notice any issues with the 18th fairway or tee box areas, so I assume it will go back to normal at some point and it will be a better finish.

There are some water hazards in play throughout the course. The greens are relatively large and have some decent undulations to make the short game interesting. Otherwise, this layout is rather forgiving from tee to green with wide fairways, not too many trees in play and not a whole lot of trouble to get into as long as you avoid any water hazards along the way.

I really don’t have much more to add to my experience at Bloomington. The people there seemed nice and the members didn’t seem too bothered by my presence. The “member for a day” rate was a bit expensive for a weekday afternoon round, but I was glad I got to play the course and not leave it as a mysterious straggler on my checklist. Playing it allowed me to complete a clean sweep of St. George on this trip, and that was worth it to me personally.

Some pictures from Bloomington Country Club (8/3/18):

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

So, now I am already 63 holes in on Friday and it’s only about 2:30 in the afternoon. This is on top of 72 holes the day before. Still, I wasn’t about to stop…

SunRiver Golf Club • St. George, UT • 8/3/18

My original plan was for SunRiver to be my second round on Saturday before heading home. I already had a 6:30 tee time at Sunbrook and I intended on keeping that no matter what happened on Thursday and Friday. That left SunRiver as the only other course left in town I hadn’t played, so I might as well knock it out on Friday afternoon.

I drove over there and the place was pretty empty as expected. This was also the hottest point of the day and I was feeling it with my body starting to get pretty worn out. I paid my $28 and was on my way. I played through a twosome at the turn and otherwise had it to myself for one more quickie. Thankfully, SunRiver (like all the courses in St. George) had many water coolers out and I was able to stay hydrated. Everywhere I played was great about having plenty of ice-cold drinking water available every few holes.

SunRiver St. George is a 55+ “active adult” community with a public golf course. The course was designed by William H. Neff, who coincidentally also designed Bloomington Country Club. It seems most of his courses are located in Utah and I don’t know much else about him or his style.

The SunRiver course doesn’t immediately strike you as a “senior” course, especially when you look at the scorecard and see the back red tees listed at 7,020 yards and the blacks at 6,634. I should also note the total par is 71 with five par-3s in the mix, so that also skews the total yardage some. I ended up playing the blues (only 6,089), but there is a pretty large gap between blacks and blues. It would be nice to see a combo set listed in the 6,300-yard range.

As with so many courses in this area, SunRiver also has a little different personality between the front and back nines. The front nine is a more traditional desert layout with desert pines lining the fairways and open desert areas in between. This side features a fairly gently rolling terrain, moderately open layout and semi-links qualities with no real significant changes in elevation.

The back nine starts to bring in some minor changes in elevation, but still nothing too severe. It plays more out and back in a big loop through some housing and some canyon terrain before circling you back around to finish up alongside the front nine. Holes 7 and 9 play along huge water hazards to the right. Likewise, holes 17 and 18 play on the opposite side of those lakes, so the water runs up the left side on those finishing holes.

SunRiver offers a fairly scenic overall setting with open vistas in every direction. There aren’t any real “wow” moments like you’ll find on some of the other courses around here and the layout is solid, but nothing too spectacular. I definitely liked it better than Bloomington and would rank it higher than St. George GC or Southgate in terms of overall quality, but I wouldn’t put in that second tier of  “must play” Southern Utah courses (which would include the likes of The Ledges, Sky Mountain and Sunbrook).

Probably the signature hole here would be considered the par-4 13th, which plays as a dogleg right with an approach shot over a rocky desert ravine. The 16th is perhaps the best of the par-3s, and it can be scary depending on which tees you play and where those tees are playing on any given day. The back tees should traditionally be located to the left (234 yards listed from the reds and 226 from the blacks) and it’s almost a forced carry the whole way over desert. I think the blues (listed at 190) are usually on that side, as well. The rest of the tee boxes are located on the right behind a row of trees and it’s a completely different look at this hole. They had the blues playing on the right and playing up a bit from the listed yardage, so I got a little lucky depending on how you want to look at it. It’s easier, but certainly less memorable from that right side tee area.

The course was in fine late summer condition, though I felt like the front nine was in much better shape than the back. Like everywhere else I played, it was good enough for August, but not great and certainly a bit rough around the edges. The tee boxes and fairways were decent with a lot of thin spots. The rough was a bit spotty. The bunkers were nice. The greens were on the firm side and rolling pretty well at medium speeds.

SunRiver is not a must play, but it’s a solid enough course to add to your list if you are looking for another reasonably affordable round to get in while in St. George.

Some pictures from SunRiver Golf Club (8/3/18):

 

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