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Homestead Golf Course in the News, article by Fairwarys+Greens

February 28, 2011

State of Swinging Surprise

Utah Golf Deserves a Gold Medal for Soldier Hollow and the Nearby Homestead Resort

Getaways . Darin Bunch . 02/23/11
Soldier Hollow, Midway, Utah

Midway, Utah doesn’t exactly scream golf destination when you hit the Google looking for a place to stay and play in the multi-option world of golf travel. And while there are many words that most people will associate with this quiet town and surrounding area at the foot of Wasatch Mountain State Park southeast of Salt Lake City – skiing being the No. 1 moniker, especially with world-famous Park City just a half hour north – scuba is another that few visitors, if any, expect to hear in association with “Utah golf.”

But this growing golf destination never ceases to surprise. In fact, it often sneaks up on you like an unexpected turn on a cross-country ski trail, especially since this stretch of Utah is known for that, too – Soldier Hollow was a 2002 Olympics venue for cross country and biathlon, plus it’s home to such events as the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships. And for family fun during the snowy season, Soldier Hollow also offers the ultimate tubing experience with lengthy 1,200-foot sliding lanes and lift service up the hill during the day and under the lights at night.

But Soldier Hollow also shines during the summer. And as more golf options enter the arena – Wasatch Mountain State Park has a total of four courses, with 36 holes at Soldier Hollow plus the park’s Mountain and Lake courses; the nearby private-community Red Ledges has just opened; and the Homestead Resort features a friendly 18-holer as well – this diverse collection of courses is not only beginning to gain recognition among golf travelers, it’s outright winning the accolades it deserves. After all, you don’t get chosen to host a United States Golf Association championship every day, especially not in Utah.

But the Gene Bates-designed Gold Course (at least 17 holes of it, with one of the Silver Course holes subbed in to fill out a special tournament routing) will do just that when it hosts the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, bringing some much-appreciated USGA love to the state of Utah, which has never hosted a championship in the association’s 117-year tournament history.

The Gold is clearly the favorite son of the complex, big and burly with a back-nine stretch that runs up into the hills with sweeping views of Heber Valley and brutish holes that require big drives and fearless approach shots. When you play the Gold, it’s easy to see why this course is a USGA dream.

But Bates’ true genius lies in the other course – the Silver, which in this case should not necessarily signify second place. Similar to another of his under-appreciated redesigns, Black Horse at the Bayonet Black Horse 36-hole complex on California’s Monterey Peninsula, Bates uses his creativity on the Silver to work a little golfer-friendly magic that tricks players into thinking shorter is easier. Even the Utah State Parks website proclaims the Silver Course “the tamer of the two.”

But we translate tame to mean more imaginative. With equal parts 3-pars, 4-pars and 5-pars (six of each), the Silver puts Bates’ greenside talents and shot-provoking skills on full display, creating a track that’s fun and challenging while still willing to surrender a memorable score for players of all levels who embrace the designer’s method and occasional madness. The Silver is a technician’s course, the Gold more of a pounder’s course – and it’s that yin and yang that energizes Solider Hollow all the more.

Another course that requires a bit of shotmaking resides at the Homestead Resort in Midway. In stark contrast to Soldier Hollow’s rugged hillside experience, The Homestead is a softer, gentler, friendlier, more resort-and-residential round of golf. And even though it may taste like a warm cup of hot chocolate to Soldier Hollow’s strong cup o’ Joe, there’s still enough spice to make this course worth a sip or two on any vacation.

But golf is only a small aspect of the Homestead life.

At this family-friendly getaway, you get the full resort treatment, complete with comfortable rooms for groups of all sizes; a variety of dining options including the relaxing Fanny’s Grill adjacent to the clubhouse where outside seating overlooks both the golf course and an entertaining pond teeming with colorful fish; an Aveda signature spa facility; and an Adventure Center featuring pocket billiards, table tennis, board and video games and a guest library.

But the Homestead’s true signature is the Crater.

It simply has to be seen to be believed.

In fact, when Director of Golf Chris Briscoe mentioned scuba diving as one of the things you can do at this ultimate golf-in-the-summer, ski-in-the-winter resort, I initially thought he was pulling my leg. But the Crater is no joke. Instead, it’s a beehive-shaped monolith of limestone that nature has sculpted for what is believed to be more than 10,000 years.

Today, the 55-foot-tall Crater – which can be accessed by a tunnel blasted through the side wall rather than the volcano-like hole at the top – is filled with clear water of high mineral content warmed by geothermal energy to a temperature of approximately 96 degrees, making it perfect for a variety of activities from diving certification (it’s the only warm-water scuba destination in the continental United States) to simply relaxing during a warm soak using the floating decks that have been built to assist visitors.

Mix in some of the additional rustic charms provided by the Homestead – guided fly-fishing lessons and excursions; horseback, buggy, wagon and sleigh rides – and the proximity to more than 100 holes of sublime golf (which Briscoe’s staff will help you cater to your twosome, foursome or larger group’s golf-specific needs), and there’s no doubt the Homestead is exactly that – your home away from home for your next trip to Utah. And if it’s your first, we promise it won’t be your last.

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