More than a dozen city- or county-operated golf courses are sandwiched between a pair of mountain ranges in the Salt Lake Valley, offering an entire summer’s worth of solitude, humility and quiet contemplation while drinking beer on public property.
Golf has a reputation of being for the well-heeled, but this doesn’t mean average folks can’t take part. Don’t let the polished luxury cars in the parking lot, the fact that you don’t own a pair of clubs or even your inability to effectively swing a club keep you away from an afternoon on the tee.
The following are four golfing options, from cheap to pricey, that anyone with a few bucks to spend and some time to burn should consider for a day of sprawling green lawns, a cooler full of beverages and hitting a ball high into the scorching summer sky. See you on the greens!
Jordan River Par-3
This little nine-hole course offers a refuge for both beginning golfers looking to sharpen their game and experienced golfers wary of breaking the budget. At $8 for nine holes, it is the best deal in town. Straddling the Jordan River, the par 3 offers a no-frills experience; minus a cart and water hazards, it’s all about the golf. One more reason to hit this course: In April, the Salt Lake City Council put off permanent closure of the course till this November. The days of cheap golf are numbered—get ‘em while you can. 1200 N. Redwood Road, Salt Lake City, 801-533-4527, SLC-Golf.com
South Mountain Golf Club
Widely regarded as one of the best golf courses in the state, South Mountain, run by Salt Lake County, is worth the trip. At $22 for nine holes and $42 for 18 holes Monday through Thursday, and $24 and $47 on weekends, it’s not exactly financially inclusive. Still, with that tax return burning a hole in your pocket, maybe it’s time to see what the grass feels like in Draper. Take a cigar and some fancy scotch to round out your day of leisure and luxury. 1247 E. Mike Weir Drive, Draper, 385-468-1480, SLCO.org/SLCountyGolf
Old Mill Golf Course
In the shoulder seasons, it’s possible to ski knee-deep powder in the Cottonwood canyons and catch nine holes on the Old Mill Golf Course in a single day. Located on Salt Lake Valley’s east bench, the course is minutes by car from the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon. But until the snow starts flying again, summer is a fine time to while away the afternoon smacking golf balls. Salt Lake County, which runs the course, has tagged Old Mill as the “pinnacle” of public golfing experiences. And because it’s public, the course can be accessed by the average Joe or Josephine golfer for $16 on weekdays for nine holes. So, for now, put the skis away, dust off the 9-iron and see what Old Mill has to offer. 6080 S. Wasatch Blvd., Salt Lake City, 801-468-1440, SLCo.org/SLCountyGolf/cOldMill/
Mountain Dell Canyon/Mountain Dell Lake
When the heat in the valley becomes too much to take, the Mountain Dell Canyon and Lake courses offer an oasis of golf in higher climes. The two 18-hole courses are managed by Salt Lake City, and run $18.50 for nine holes and $35 for 18. String the two together for an entire day of golf, and they’ll waive the $14 cart fee on the second round. At Mountain Dell, which sits 6,000 feet above sea level roughly halfway between Salt Lake and Park City, wildlife sightings are common, and the farther you stray from the clubhouse, the more solitary the surroundings become. Parley’s Canyon, Interstate 80, Exit 134, 801-582-3812, SLC-Golf.com
Bonneville Golf Course
With its close proximity to downtown and the University of Utah, it’s no surprise that Bonneville bills itself as among the busiest in the state. One of the finest distinctions of this course is the way it has managed to hold on to a bit of solitude as the urban framework has grown around its borders. There are holes that offer wide-angle views of the valley to the west, and there are a number of scrub-oak choked ravines that gobble up errant balls—all off of busy Foothill Drive and Sunnyside Avenue. And the course, starting at $18.50 for nine holes and $28 for 18, is still accessible for a golfer on a budget. 954 Connor St., Salt Lake City, 801-583-9513, SLC-Golf.com
MORE SUMMER GUIDE 2014
Summer TV 2014
Seize the Day
Elective Summer Reads
Under the Sun
Fair Weather Fun