In this blog post we’re going to explore the best public golf courses in Salt Lake City.
Resting on the shores of the glistening Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City is growing in popularity and it is easy to see why.
For starters, the landscape is epic. Not only is there the magnificent lake, but it also has the majestic Wasatch Mountain Range flanking the city on the east side. Littered in ski resorts ensures the city is buzzing with the active type of tourist both during the winter months and the summer.
Downtown is urban and sophisticated. There is a cultural richness to the city center with plenty of bars and restaurants.
Easily accessible via Salt Lake City International Airport and a number of well-connected highways, ensures a golf vacation to Salt Lake City should be firmly on the cards.
Although not renowned as a golf destination, there is a fine selection of courses dotted around the city. There are some relatively good municipal layouts, as well as some top class daily fees courses.
The best public golf courses in Salt Lake City, Utah
|1||Thanksgiving Point Golf Club|
|2||Bonneville Golf Club|
|3||Bountiful Ridge Golf Club|
|4||South Mountain Golf Course|
|5||Mountain Dell (Canyon Course)|
|6||River Oaks Golf Course|
|7||Stonebridge Golf Course|
|8||The Ridge Golf Club|
|9||Mountain Dell (Lake Course)|
|10||Glendale Golf Course|
|Value for money||Bountiful Ridge Golf Club|
|Groups||The Ridge Golf Club|
|Clubhouse||Thanksgiving Point Golf Club|
|Views||South Mountain Golf Club|
1. Thanksgiving Point Golf Club
A half hour’s drive south of the city towards Lehi, is the immensely popular Thanksgiving Point Golf Club.
This course, which was built in 1997, is set against the Jordan River which cuts through the center of the site. It comes into play on a couple of holes, but generally, it is more of a feature on the landscape, rather than a hazard.
As well as the Jordan River, the routing surrounds the stunning and verdant Ashton Gardens. It is also not far from the burgeoning tech hub nicknamed Silicon Slopes.
The designer was the US & British Open winner Johnny Miller. Miller not only enjoyed a successful golf career, but was responsible for designing and renovating some 30+ courses. Thanksgiving Point is surely one of his strongest designs.
So much so, over the years the course has received plenty of acclaim from all the major golf publications. GolfWeek Magazine went as far as calling it one of the ‘Best Golf Courses you can Play in Utah’.
Yet this is no walk in the park. From the back tees the course measures a monstrous 7,714 yards! Make sure you choose your tee box carefully.
2. Bonneville Golf Course
One of the founding golf courses in Salt Lake City, Bonneville opened for play back in 1929. And it was designed by one of the most respected architects of the day, William F. Bell.
You can often tell the golf courses which opened in the first half of the century, as they always seem to occupy plots closer to the city center. As for Bonneville Golf Course, it is just a three mile hop from downtown.
Although not the longest from the backs, reaching just over 6,800 yards, this old-school course has an interesting layout.
Set across undulating terrain, every hole has a different challenge. You can walk, but it is recommended to take a cart.
The plush tree lined fairways will ensure drives that aren’t accurate will be punished. But even if you do hit the fairway, it’s around and on the greens where rounds will be won or lost.
The greens are lightning-fast and one of the real draws to play Bonneville. As are the views, which look out across the city over to the great lake.
Being a municipal layout, the rates are fantastic. Although choose carefully when you play as it can get busy, for obvious reasons.
3. Bountiful Ridge Golf Club
With such a majestic mountain range flanking the east side of the city, it is hardly surprising Salt Lake City has some imperious mountain-style layouts. And Bountiful Ridge Golf Club is up there as one of the best.
The club is located some twenty minutes drive north east of downtown, in the mountain foothills. As you look back down towards urbanization, you’ll enjoy some superb panoramic views. Even as far out over the Great Salt Lake.
Bountiful Ridge opened in 1975 and was designed by William H. Neff. Ever since opening, it continues to receive plaudits. And it is consistently rated as one of the best public golf courses, not just in Salt Lake City, but also in Utah.
Fairways are narrow and tree-lined, featuring constant movement and undulations. If you do hit the fairway, you’ll be approaching large greens which are fast and true.
With so much foliage, fall can be an awe-inspiring time to visit with every hue of green, orange, brown and red on offer. No wonder this is so much loved by the locals.
Yet it’s not just the locals who love it. So does Golf Digest who consistently award it four and a half stars.
Regardless of who you are, this is arguably the best, and most affordable municipal golf course in Salt Lake City.
4. South Mountain Golf Course
What is ultimately a sad story for the developers of South Mountain Golf Course, has clearly benefited the everyday, nomadic golfer. But sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself.
South Mountain Golf Course had initially been built as a high-end private club. The year was 1998 and the developers had hired the substantial experience of David Graham, the former PGA Championship and US Open winner. And the architectural duo of Gary Panks and Gary Stephenson.
But for whatever reason, it is now in the capable hands of the Salt Lake County Parks, who purchased the property a year after its development.
Yet as I alluded to earlier, where one party loses out, another gains. And the public golfers in Salt Lake City are those who have.
South Mountain is a superb course, built in the mountainous foothills and offering a stern test of golf. From central Salt Lake City, expect a twenty-five minute drive.
In truth though, the routing is going to be challenging for higher handicaps. There are very few trees, but there is ample scrub bush and long grass. Finding balls from sprayed shots is a lottery.
And elevation changes and undulations are a constant feature to contend with. And this is exacerbated on the significant number of holes which ask you to play blind shots.
But challenges aside, this is an epic course, with a unique variety of holes. Be it changes in the terrain, be it stunning views or be it first-class architecture, you’re sure to love playing here.
I mentioned the views, and they truly are spectacular. Overlooking the Wasatch Mountains and downtown Salt Lake City, this is a special spot. Not that you’ll be appreciating them much when you’re inevitably looking for your ball in the brush.
5. Mountain Dell (Canyon Course & Lake Course)
Salt Lake City has some truly epic public golf courses, many more which haven’t been added to this list. And the phenomenal public facility of Mountain Dell ranks as one of the greatest of them all.
Located up in Salt Lake Valley at 6,000 feet above sea level, this is well and truly separated from the hustle and bustle of urban life. And yet it takes less than twenty minutes to get here from downtown!
There are two championship courses onsite; the Canyon Course and the Lake Course, and both are sensational.
The original 18-hole layout was designed back in 1962 by William F. Bell. And thirteen of those original eighteen holes are featured on the Canyon Course.
Twenty-nine years later in 1991, the Lake Course followed and was designed by the immensely talented William Howard Neff.
Nestled in Parley’s Canyon, this is a gorgeously isolated site. There are no homes lining fairways and no noise from the city. It is you and nature. So much so, if your tee time is early morning or late in the evening, it is very likely you’ll see elk, moose or deer roaming the fairways.
Both courses have been carved out of the rugged terrain and through the rolling hills. But you’ll find locals prefer the Canyon Course as by and large, it features a slightly better collection of holes.
As it climbs up the eastern mountain before looping back, it also has some of the most spectacular views.
The Lake Course is still well worth playing. With the routing making its way through the native bushes and scrub, accuracy is critical to not lose your ball. There are many uphill and downhill shots again, placing a premium of the right club choice.
All in all, Mountain Dell is a top class municipal facility. And when Salt Lake City gets hot in the summer, you’ll find many golfers escaping to cooler climes and playing Mountain Dell.
6. River Oaks Golf Course
Yet another outstanding municipal layout within a short drive from the city center. River Oaks Golf Course is another popular daily green fee option run by the city.
The club is located a twenty minute drive south of downtown in Sandy, easily accessible from everywhere. It opened in 1999 and was designed by William H. Neff.
Neff took full advantage of the fact the Jordan River runs straight through the site. So inevitably, a lot of the holes are characterized by marshlands and copious amounts of water.
And depending upon which tees you are playing from, there are a number of forced carries over the wet stuff.
In fact, River Oaks is far more popular with the lower handicap golfers, due to the fact it presents a stern challenge. The number of lost balls running into double figures clearly stops repeat visits by higher handicap golfers!
But joking aside, there is a decent variety of holes whilst the conditioning is more often than not in great shape. And of course, being managed by the city means it is hugely affordable.
7. Stonebridge Golf Course
South of the Glendale neighborhood and just over a ten minute drive from the heart of the city, is this gem of a course.
Stonebridge Golf Course is one of the most popular pay and play courses in Salt Lake and it’s easy to see why.
The club has 27 holes of golf, the three nines called Creekside, Sunrise and Sagebrush. All three were designed by that man again, Johnny Miller,, alongside Gene Bates golf design.
Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter which nine holes you play, each is a solid choice. If anything, I would choose based on the average handicap of the group. For example, the Sunrise nine holes is quite challenging, with a number of forced carries.
That said, there is so much water on the course, 20 of the 27 featuring water, this isn’t somewhere for higher handicaps. Yes, there are multiple tee boxes on each hole. But it will be a long day for anyone who isn’t a confident golfer.
Alongside all the water and forced carries, are 93 bunkers dotted around the course. One of those is a 200 yard long waste bunker!
But it is great fun. The style of the course is Scottish links (what else would you expect from Miller?!), which is amplified when strong winds blow through the site. The course is more often than not in great condition, with greens rolling true.
8. The Ridge Golf Club
The Ridge Golf Club is yet another spectacular city owned and managed golf course.
Located in the West Valley, the club is nestled in the foothills of the Oquirrh mountains. From pretty much every point on the course, golfers get to enjoy scenic views across Salt Lake City and even further out towards the Wasatch Front.
The original course, called Westridge Golf Club, was built in 1991 by William H. Neff, that man again. Yet due to a major infrastructure project, a completely new 18-hole course was built in 2012. This time by Gene Bates Golf Design.
Their outstanding creation is what you play today. And measuring 6,753 yards from the back tees, is approachable to golfers of all levels.
But this is not a course to take lightly.
There is a distinct lack of trees, giving the course an inland links-style. Many fairways are flanked by native grasses whilst having been routed across rolling hills, you’ll rarely enjoy a flat lie.
And when the wind blows, which it inevitably does, it really lives up to its links-like feel. There is a reason the regulars called this ‘Windy Ridge’!
That said, if you’re hitting it consistently, you could score well here. From the tee, the course is very forgiving. The greens are large although they do feature a lot of movement.
I feel like I’m repeating myself, but once again, this is incredible value and well worth traveling out west to play.
9. Glendale Golf Course
To further showcase the quality of public golf around the city, we round off this list with Glendale Golf Course.
This great fun course opened in 1973 and is yet another located a stone’s throw from the center of Salt Lake City.
It was designed by William F. Bell, a man who played a key role in the growth of golf in the area. Glendale may not be his greatest creation, but it is a much loved layout nonetheless.
It occupies a relatively compact plot to the south of the city heading towards the Chesterfield neighborhood. And from here, it enjoys some spectacular views, not only of the surrounding mountains, but also the Salt Lake City skyline.
From the tee box, the layout is driver friendly with not too many trees coming into play. It is the litany of sand traps and various water hazards you’ll want to avoid.
One of the main features which splits the course in two, is the Jordan River. Sadly there are no holes which cross the river. But there are a handful of fairways and greens which get ominously close.
Incredibly playable for all levels of golfer, yet with enough bite to challenge the lower handicaps, Glendale is a great option for a public golf course in Salt Lake City.
What is the best public golf course in Salt Lake City?
The best public golf course in Salt Lake City is Thanksgiving Point Golf Club, which is located in Lehi, a half hour from downtown. The course opened in 1997 and is the work of the US & British Open winner Johnny Miller.