Utah’s Best Golf Courses to Play in the Fall

Regardless of your disability, these lessons will help you enjoy your journey.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Golfers take in the tapestry of fall colors at Wasatch Mountain Golf Course near Midway, Ut., Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2019.

Springville • Of all the fall landscape vantage points in Utah, the best might be the Sand Trap.

The clubhouse cafe at Hobble Creek Golf Course overlooks No. 10, a par-3 hole that plays downhill to a green surrounded by barely emerging variegated trees.

The Utah High School Activities Association made this discovery nearly 50 years ago, moving the golf season from spring to fall, when courses were less crowded and the weather was more predictable. The bonus, as golfers of all ages have learned, is the views from the hillside and canyon courses. They become especially spectacular in the calendar window when the leaves change.

The way the yellow, orange and red leaves frame the green fairways of Wasatch Mountain GC at Midway “will almost take your breath away,” said assistant pro Bret Weston.

(Hobble Creek) Located in Springville, Hobble Creek Golf Course is a local favorite for its scenery and fall colors.

Salt Lake City’s Hobble Creek, Wasatch Mountain, and Mountain Dell are the traditional answers when public golfers in Utah are asked to rank the best fall scenery. In an informal Salt Lake Tribune survey this month, Gladstan at Payson and Mt. Ogden rounded out the top five, amid stiff competition.

A closer look at these five, as well as others worth considering:

Hobble Creek

The logic seemed solid. A golf venue 12 miles from the BYU campus was likely to be wide open on a Saturday in mid-September when the Cougars played in a televised Top 25 football team game. The afternoon’s packed start sheet challenged that theory. “It never stops,” head pro Craig Norman marveled, and that was before the leaves really started to turn.

The natural setting of Hobble Creek Canyon distinguishes the Norman course, where the hillside forms a southern boundary. Thus, the maples are visible on almost all the shots, starting with the first ride of the day. The par 3 holes have their own striking scenery, with trees framing the greens.

Wasatch Mountain

(Bret Weston) The sun sets on the Wasatch Mountain Lake Course.

Another Utah golf phenom is the 36-hole Wasatch Mountain State Park facility, a popular destination course all season long. The fall makes the Mountain Course particularly attractive. The elevated tee of par-5 #12 offers “magnificent views of the course, park, Midway and the Heber Valley,” Weston said.

The lake course is more of a park layout, but it is also lined with a variety of trees.

mountain dell

(Mountain Dell Golf Course) Looking out from the par-13 tee box #17 on the Lake Course, every fall offers a special view.

Salt Lake City’s 36-hole facility may offer the best golf course scenery in the country visible from an interstate highway. The drive west from I-80 is particularly rewarding, starting with the view of par-3 #13 on the Canyon course at the east end of the property.

When it comes to playing Mountain Dell, each 18-hole layout has its own distinctions, while overlapping just enough to keep any golfer from feeling cheated. A good example is Lake Course’s No. 17, a downhill par-3 that plays into a bowl of trees.

Gladstan

Located near Payson Canyon in the Elk Ridge region, Gladstan bills itself as a “hidden gem”. The faithful patrons of the municipal course are torn between promoting the course and the desire to keep it secret; they certainly responded favorably to The Tribune’s investigation.

The layout winds through canyons and valleys, with several nine-hole courses nestled into the mountainside. Every tee shot on numbers 10 through 15 offers a remarkable view. The elevated 12th green gives an overview of the entire course and the valley below, while the back tee of par-5 #14 offers 360 degree views of the landscape.

Mount Ogden

The same elements that make Mount Ogden such a challenging course create a whole new dimension in the fall on Ogden’s East Bank. Trees encroaching on the fairways on both sides become both an attraction and a hazard.

Asked to identify his favorite views on the course this time of year, Mt. Ogden pro Todd Brenkman said, “All the holes are great.”

Honorable Mention

Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Deer roams the empty Bountiful Ridge golf course, Sunday, October 12, 2014

Generous crest: Hillside topography and tree-lined design similar to Mount Ogden, although fairway widths are generally more accommodating.

City of the park: The higher elevation naturally causes colors to change earlier in the season than at valley sites.

Soldier Hollow: It might seem odd to include a course where the trees don’t come into play, but the hillside – especially looking towards Mount Timpanogos on Gold Course numbers 15 and 16 – creates a picturesque backdrop at Midway.

Wolf Creek Resort: The canyon setting at Eden near Pineview Reservoir is always scenic. This is even more true in the fall, with the back nine winding through the trees.

Sand hollow: Much like Soldier Hollow, the lack of trees isn’t necessarily a downside in southern Utah. Late afternoon sunlight in the fall adds to the contrast between red rocks and green fairways.

Michael C. Ford