Meet the top local linksmen.
By Ann Wycoff
Park City and the surrounding environs host a wonderland of magnificent mountain golf. Emerald fairways and undulating greens are tucked into
the sprawling landscape, surrounded by natural hazards like gurgling creeks and meadows of wildflowers. When teeing up, it’s difficult not to be distracted by the panoramic views of craggy peaks and verdant valleys or the red rock canyons and glistening reservoirs. With courses designed by top names in the industry and superlative instruction provided by local pros with impressive pedigrees, what’s not to love about this golfer’s paradise?
Course Description: The private Jack Nicklaus designed golf course is set in a majestic red rock Western landscape with some
of the most awe-inspiring natural scenery in the nation. It is also home to one of the exclusive Jim McLean Golf Schools.
In His Bag: “A new Titleist® 915 D3 Driver. Because of its lighter club head, my club head speed went up 3-5 mph and my ball speed
increased 6-10 mph over my old driver. That was all I needed to make the switch and I have enjoyed the extra distance off the tee ever since.”
High-Tech Device: “The new Game Golf automatic shot tracking system. This device gives me the data and statistics that I need to
assess my own game, but becomes invaluable when I can analyze what happened in a student’s round of golf when I am not able to be with them.”
Favorite PGA Player: “The face of the PGA Tour player is rapidly changing; therefore I really enjoy watching the young guns like Jordan
Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and Daniel Berger. It truly amazes how good these players are at such a young age.”
Tip: “Open the clubface in the bunker. I see too many amateurs who hit bunker shots with a square clubface that causes the leading edge of
the club to dig in to the sand and lose all club head speed. Grip the club with the clubface open and try several practice swings to “throw” the sand out of the bunker and onto the green. You will notice how easy the club slides through the sand and how important it is to keep that clubface open.”
Course Description: “Promontory has two top-ranked golf courses. The Pete Dye Canyon course has earned accolades for its
design, playability and fun as it runs through open meadows, valleys and canyons, offering spectacular views of the local ski resorts. The Jack Nicklaus Painted Valley course is set amongst glacial moraines, carved eons ago, and like The Dye, it provides both avid and newer golfers a stern test of their skills. In combination, Promontory’s two courses offer as fine a golf experience as can be found in all the West!”
In His Bag: “The new Titleist® 915 driver, fairway woods and hybrids perform as promised and then some, while the new
Vokey SM5 wedges are absolutely the best wedges on the market. I especially love the 58° K Grind.”
High-Tech Device: “Flightscope gets my nod for the best new piece of technology. It’s an invaluable tool as it
relates to expert club-fitting and teaching, as it helps both the student and instructor expertly analyze the needs of the student.”
Favorite PGA Player: “Tiger has been my favorite player for many years now, as I have always admired his unparalleled
skills, and I hope he gets his game back on track. It’s also great to see the younger players stepping up such as McElroy and Spieth. I especially love following our Utah boys such as Zac Blair, Tony Finau, Daniel Summerhays and Mike Weir.”
Tip: “Having taught the game for over 40 years, the one tip that stands out is to have all players learn and discipline themselves
to finish in a consistent, balanced, target-facing finish position. A consistent finish position will always lead to a more consistent impact position.”
Course Description: This 36-hole championship complex
hosts two popular public courses designed by Bill Neff. The Mountain Course carves into the Wasatch foothills with good elevation changes and dramatic views, while the gentler, pastoral Lakes Course hosts tree-lined fairways and eight lakes and ponds. Both are roaming grounds for wildlife — deer, wild turkeys and moose.
In His Bag: “I play TaylorMade® equipment starting with the new R15 Driver. It’s my favorite new toy as it lets me adjust to achieve optimal launch conditions. I use it to control my launch angle of 14 degrees and have toyed around with different shaft properties that allow me to control my spin rate and keep it in the 2,400 – 2,700 revolutions per second range. It’s all about high launch and low spin these days.”
High-Tech Device: “Game Golf, the shot tracking system. I enjoy recapping my rounds when I am finished. This allows me to see patterns in my game and make plans to work on my weaknesses. My wife wishes there was a gadget like that for my husband skills!”
Favorite PGA Players: “Daniel Summerhays, Zac Blair, and Tony Finau. I love seeing these young kids that grew up in Utah Junior Golf realizing their childhood dreams. Proof positive that anything is possible with talent, belief in oneself, and a little luck! Go get ‘em boys!”
Tip: “Golf is much like life — it’s all about the quality of contact. So with that in mind I try and have my students practice hitting smaller shots with their trail foot on the ground through impact. This forces the body to rotate versus slide through the impact zone. A golf swing that is sliding forward at impact lifts the trail foot, adding one more variable to the swing, and reduces a player’s likelihood of achieving solid impact.”
GREG STEPHENS, PGA
Director of Golf, Victory Ranch
Course Description: This 18-hole, private Rees Jones-designed golf course meanders through the pristine high country with dramatic, commanding views of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the Uinta and Wasatch Mountains.
In His Bag: A Nike Vapor® driver. “It is the longest and most forgiving driver I have ever played.”
High Tech Device: StrackaLine®. “We’ve incorporated this new technology at Victory Ranch, as it helps golfers read greens better. 3D models of our greens have been created for players to use with either a Smartphone app or a printed Green Guide. This helps them understand the breaks of the green based on where their ball is in relation to that day’s pin location. Reading greens on mountain golf courses can be tough and this technology really helps. And it conforms to USGA rules.”
Favorite PGA Player: “Tiger Woods. He is an old friend and the most influential golfer of my generation.”
Tip: “Take control of your downswing. Think of solid contact as opposed to trying to hit the ball hard. Hitting the ball on the sweet spot is one of the greatest keys to combine distance and accuracy. Let your swing gradually accelerate throughout the downswing all the way to the finish; don’t try to swing hard from the top.”
Course Description: Designed by renowned architects Gene Bates and Casey Bates, this 18-hole, par 70 course features spectacular views of the Wasatch and Uinta mountains from almost every hole.
The course encompasses 6,246 total yards and showcases unique elements such as soft path features that act as cart paths with playable terrain and four sets of tees at each hole. Turf includes bluegrass, native grass mix, and bentgrass. Extensive efforts were made to utilize ecologically sustainable practices.
In His Bag: “Callaway Big Bertha® Alpha Driver, Odyssey Works #1 Wide Putter, 1 stale PB&J sandwich, one love note from my wife.”
High Tech Device: “There are much more advanced systems out there. But hey…who has the time or money to work with them? I like the ES14 Launch Monitor. It’s simple to setup and use, and it gives my students the numbers to support the coaching I am providing.”
Tips for Aspiring Pros: “As Arnold Palmer said in the Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial: ‘Swing Your Swing’. Many a great player has been ruined in the pursuit of finding the perfect swing. Own your swing, believe in it, and then go practice the short game.”
Course Description: This lovely Bruce Summerhays-designed course is part of the Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah. Mature trees, ponds, roaming wildlife and sweeping mountain views define this beautiful course that takes its name from the natural hot springs on the resort’s property.
In His Bag: “A Callaway Big Bertha® Alpha 815 Driver. It’s increased my club head speed by 5 mph, resulting in about 8 more yards of distance without sacrificing accuracy.”
High-Tech Device: “GPS Industry’s Central. I know where everyone is on the course and how long they have been there.”
Favorite Tour Player: “Bubba Watson. He’s different and fun to watch.”
Tip: “Look at the hole, not the ball, when you putt. You’ll be amazed!”
Course Description: This premier member-owned golf club features an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature-designed golf course that’s hosted 10 Senior PGA Tour events. Sweeping panoramic mountain views and an upscale country club add to the appeal.
In His Bag: “As a TaylorMade® Staff Professional, I play their clubs from top to bottom. In my opinion, it’s the best product on the market. My favorite new club is my R15 driver. It’s long, straight, and very forgiving.”
High-Tech Device: “Our personalized Park Meadows App. Our members and guests love it as the app features club information, GPS, live scoring, handicap information, access to our tee sheet to book times, and a customized 3D Flyover of each hole.”
Favorite PGA Player: “Dustin Johnson. He’s got a great attitude, hits it a country mile, and is due for a breakout year this year.”
Tip: “Take a lesson or series of lessons from a PGA Professional and practice your short game relentlessly.”