Park City Golf Club in Park City, UT
Tee Time: October 25, 2014, 1:30, 71 F, Windy (gusts of 44mph)
Designer: William H. Neff, 1963
Playing Partners: CJ Phelan, Ashley, Josh
Tees: Middle, Par 72 (69.7 rating/129 slope/6,277 yards)
Course Handicap: 9 (7.8 index)
Stats: 83 (40-43); 36 putts; 6/14 fairways; 6/18 greens; 2 penalty strokes
Fun fact is that if you go back through the last four years, basically since I started trying to golf nationwide, Park City Golf Club is the course I’ve played the most. It’s been three years since I moved down to Arizona, but that still holds true. When I got to make a quick work trip to Salt Lake City in late October, I had originally tried to get on one of the top flight private courses in the area, such as Glenwild, Promontory or Red Ledges. Having no luck, I booked a tee time at a respected course in the Salt Lake region. But as soon as I landed and all those memories of being outside in the fresh mountain air of Park City came back to me, I called a quick audible for an afternoon tee time. By the end of the round, it was 6pm with temps in the 40s and gale-force winds. That’s a big drop from the 90s I had just flown in from, but I loved every second of it. CJ and I paired up with a couple around our age. Since she was actually better than him, he took every advantage he could to have a chance and we ended up playing the middle tees. At 6,700 feet, the altitude made the 6,277-yard par 72 play like the junior’s tees.
I was actually surprised at how little I remember the front nine here. I guess it’s because I lived within walking distance of the 17th tee box, so when playing after work I would just head in from there. The par-5 486-yard 1st is wide open and plays short. There is a lake guarding the front-left of the green, and it’s hard to see from the fairway. With the multi-tiered green and big bunkers, this hole has birdies and doubles written all over it. The 145-yard second is straight-forward and to a massive, circular green. A bigger pond guards the front-left here than at the first. The third is a dogleg-right par 4 of 403 yards. It takes a sharp bend to the right and it’s easy to run through the fairway from the tee. A dogleg-right of 507 yards plays long for the par-5 4th. The fairway slopes away to the left, so even good tee shots might roll farther away from the green. The 375-yard 5th is the hole I didn’t remember at all. It’s one of the more remote holes on the course, running against the stables at the bottom of one of the ski hills. I’m surprised I didn’t remember it, because it’s pretty. The second shot is over crystal-clear water to a sharp-breaking green.
I did remember the short, downhill 6th. Some homeowner has an OB sign hanging on his fence like a target off the tee. Given how easily balls run through the fairway, it’s easy to see why he warns people off his property. This hole turns sharply to the left for the approach. There’s a small window to hit from the tee because anything short and the trees cut off the angle, anything long is in that guy’s yard. The 395-yard 7th is a fun, wide open hole where you have permission to swing hard and see what happens. On a windy day like today, which probably blew off every last leaf still hanging on for dear life, the 191-yard par-3 8th plays like a beast. The green is flat and the only danger is a sand trap far to the left with no lip. The 9th is a tough par 4, but I did make a par from underneath a blue spruce.
The back nine is the side I remember, and even a first-timer would have a hard time forgetting this memorable stretch. It all plays close to the ski resort, so you get nice views of the mountain and a relatively quiet atmosphere. Except for the 44-mph winds blasting your face. The dogleg-left 10th is short and harmless. A tall pine tree guards cutting the corner on the left. The 11th is one of the most fun holes I have played. It’s short, at 323 yards, downhill, and today, downwind. You can’t see the whole green from the tee, and there is a berm right at the front of the green to conquer. But if you’re willing to risk going into jail with all the trees on the right, it’s fun to have a go at it. The 12th is like a toughened-up version of the 10th. A little longer at 322 yards and a little straighter, you tee off with a view of the fancy condos with big windows. What you don’t have a view of until it’s too late are the ponds on the right and the little creek in front of the green. The 147-yard 13th is the most fun par-3 at Park City Golf Club. Short and with a great view of more of that amazingly clean mountain water in the large lake, it’s a tricky green to putt.
The most intimidating tee shot is that of the 395-yard 14th. A pretty long carry is required to get past the water and get far enough past the trees to give a good angle at the green, which is way uphill but fortunately a pretty flat green. Standing at the most elevated tee on the course at 15, you could really launch a ball a long way. It’s probably better to be in the fairway on this par 4, especially with the trees lining the fairway so closely bunched together. The par-5 16th plays longer than it looks. At 512 yards and bending left, it looks like you can get past the corner from the tee, but you’ll most likely be short. It’s reachable, you just have to be creative. You also putt next to the parking lot of the resort, which, if I’m lucky, I’ll be sitting in later this winter to strap on my ski boots. The 188-yard 17th is the longest par 3, but also downhill do a nice-sized green.
I’ve always said Park City is way more fun in the summer than in the winter. The weather is always perfect. Either sunny and 75 or a stunning thunderstorm. Plenty of mountain biking, hiking, drinking and relaxing to do on those long days. Plenty of great golf, too. I wouldn’t mind being back living within walking distance of this top-class muni. The atmosphere is laid back, the course is always in great condition (even in the last days of the season) and it provides a fun round for all skill levels. Winter here isn’t bad either, don’t get me wrong. Maybe I just remember less of it because I was laid up from an ankle shredded playing ice hockey for the one winter I spent here. I also am happy to say I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have to scrape ice off my car every morning. If I do come back in the summer again, I definitely want to try to get out on one of these acclaimed private courses. You should too, but if you don’t and your round of golf is at Park City Golf Club instead, you won’t feel cheated one bit. And you’re that much closer to Main Street and the great bars afterward, like the No Name Saloon.
#18, Par 5, 495 yards, 4-handicap, My Score: 7
The closing hole is definitely also the prettiest. Hardest, too. Off the tee, staying on the left side of the fairway is best because that give a shot at the green from a reasonable distance. But a big lake cuts in front of the entire green, which looks 150 feet wide. You have to carry at least 3 or 4 yards over the water, because the green is raised and the front drops sharply into the hazard. It’s easy to go over, too. There’s not much stopping your ball from ending up in a vacation rental. As a three-shot par 5, it’s definitely a good chance to get on and make a go at birdie. But here on this blog I go for eagles. And made 7…
Layout: B; lots of sharp doglegs and some memorable holes on the back nine.
Amenities: C+; I’ve never been to the restaurant, but the snack bar is always stocked with cold beer. The range isn’t the greatest.
Staff: A; everyone here is laid back and happy to help out.
Difficulty: C+; the course is only really hard if you try to do too much. Take what the course gives you. There are some very tough breaks on the green
Scenery: B; I could play beneath the beautiful mountains of downtown Park City every day. I know this because I did at one point in my life.
Value: A; an affordable $41 for 18 and a cart is an easy price to pay, especially given how everything else in Park City is sold at a premium.
Overall GPA: 3.1 (B); a great and affordable alternative to a lot of summer entertainment out here.