Review: Sand Hollow Resort (Championship Course)

Course Name: Sand Hollow Resort (Championship Course)

Designer: John Fought/Andy Staples (2008)

Location: Hurricane, Utah

History: Southern Utah’s Sand Hollow Resort opened in 2008 with 27 holes from John Fought and Andy Staples. While the 9-hole Links Course is supposedly very good, the Championship Course is the main attraction and soon vaulted its way into the national spotlight. Accolades for the course include:

  • #158 Best Modern Course in America – Golfweek (2022)
  • #33 Best Public Course in North America – Golf Magazine (2021)
  • #55 Best Public Course in America – Golfweek (2022)
  • #41 Best Resort Course in America – Golfweek (2022)
  • #1 Best Course in Utah – Golf Magazine (2023)
  • #6 Best Course in Utah – Golf Digest (2021)
  • #1 Best Course in Utah – (2020)
  • #1 Best Public Course in Utah – Golfweek (2022)

Conditions: 8/10, I played Sand Hollow a bit early in the season before it had fully grown in, but the course was overall in very good condition. My only critique is that the greens were a bit slow and there were a lot of unrepaired divots on the fairways and teeboxes.

Value: 7/10, With rates ranging between $75 and $248 depending on the season, Sand Hollow provides very fair value and is much cheaper than its nearby Vegas competitors.


Tee                           Par         Yardage         Rating          Slope

Black                       72           7315              73.7             131

Blue                         72           6893             71.8              126

White                       72           6462             69.7              121

Red                          72           5306             69.5              121

Hole Descriptions: Set in the red rocky outcroppings of southwestern Utah, Sand Hollow Resort is a wildly unique and photogenic course that’s moved up the rankings in recent years and become an Instagram darling. As a golf photographer, I was very excited to check out the course for myself, especially after hearing from many that the architecture matches the picturesque setting. After playing Sand Hollow, my initial impression was a positive one. The routing is certainly a tale of two nines as the front nine plays flat over the eastern edge of the property while the much discussed back nine plays along the edge of cliffs and features a very memorable stretch from 11-15. I found the front nine solid but a bit forgettable besides a few holes. The back is extremely unique and features some great holes that are pure fun. Although the architecture is somewhat gimmicky here and there, Sand Hollow is overall a more cohesive and standard design than nearby Wolf Creek. If I had to rank Sand Hollow, I’d say it is no doubt one of the most aesthetically pleasing public courses in America and overall a borderline top 100 public course. Travelers to the area should definitely play here and I’d even consider it an option from Las Vegas two hours away.

Sand Hollow’s opening hole is a good one as a 432 yard straightaway par 4. Playing from an elevated teebox, this gorgeous hole features an extremely generous fairway partially shared with the 9th and lined by desert right. This green is large and runs primarily right-to-left with bunkers left and short right.

The wide-open 1st provides golfers some room on their first swing
The approach at 1 with the hotel in the background

Sand Hollow features a very strong set of par fives beginning with the 556 yard 2nd hole. Although generous off the tee, this fairway slopes steadily right-to-left the entire way and is defended by a pesky midline bunker at 240 yards and OB wide on either side. From an uneven stance, the golfer is given options on their second shot, as this green is tucked to the right with excellent bunkering 75 yards short left and 110 yards short right before the turn. Do you go for it in two or try to avoid these bunkers on the lay-up? The green itself is a good one with a back right plateau and false front defended by a left collection area, two bunkers long, and a bunker right. There are many ways to play this clever design.

The par 5 2nd
The approach at 2

The 3rd hole is innocent enough, but is in my opinion the weakest hole at Sand Hollow. This 195 yard par 3 is flat and featureless with a circular, back-to-front sloped green surrounded by rough. The two bunkers seen below are well-short of the green and not in play. Make your par and move on.

The par 3 3rd

The 4th hole is a solid dogleg left par 4 at 439 yards lined by desert on both sides and bunkers down the right at 200 and 275 yards. The unique thing about this hole is the dogleg doesn’t occur until about 310 yards so this approach will be partially obscured or at an awkward angle for many. This green is one of the flattest on the course and is defended by a tiny bunker right.

The par 4 4th
The approach at 4, note the late dogleg

The shortest and easiest par 4 on the front, the 347 yard 5th is a straightaway hole featuring another generous fairway lined by a bunker right at 260 yards. The most notable feature of this rather mundane hole is a well-designed green containing multiple plateaus and defended by a large bunker right.

The par 4 5th

At a lengthy 468 yards, the number 1 handicap 6th hole is a fantastic par 4 and one that I find underrated given all the attention to the holes on the back nine. This monster is a sleek dogleg left featuring a right-to-left sloped fairway and speed slot past the dogleg around 260 yards. A beautiful, large bunker runs down the left between 150 and 200 yards and a hidden pot bunker awaits the first-time player at 275 yards in the fairway. This green offers another surprise – running front-to-back and difficult to hold for the golfer with wood or long iron in his hand. A giant bunker short right of the green is probably a popular destination.

The par 4 6th
The approach at 6

The 7th hole is the longest hole at Sand Hollow as a straightaway 563 yard par 5 running along the hotel. While somewhat intimidating off the tee with its 150 yard forced carry and desert down both sides, this hole features plenty of fairway just beyond a left crossbunker at 200 yards. An even more devastating left crossbunker awaits about 165 yards short of the green but shouldn’t be in play unless the wind is severely into you, as it was for me. This green is quite shallow and also runs front-to-back defended by two bunkers short left and a dangerous bunker well-short right.

The par 5 7th

At 158 yards, the 8th hole is the shortest hole on the course as a beautiful all-or-nothing par 3. Playing slightly uphill to a narrow, perched, severely back-to-front sloped green, this hole is well-defended by deep bunkers on either side.

The par 3 8th

The front side closes with another good hole in the 404 yard 9th. A dogleg left that plays uphill toward the clubhouse, this is another visually attractive hole featuring a shared fairway and large bunker down the left at 250 yards. This approach plays at least one club extra towards a green that slopes both back-to-front and left-to-right defended by bunkers short and right.

The par 4 9th
The approach at 9

Sand Hollow’s back nine is famous for its unique stretch from 11-15 but often forgotten is the fact that there are other tremendous holes on this side. I consider the 10th one of these holes as a 534 yard par 5. From an elevated teebox, this gorgeous dogleg left seems to raise out of the desert with a mild forced carry and excellent bunkering down the left between 120 and 265 yards and the right at 280 yards. Some further bunkers occupy the middle of the fairway for much of the lay-up area but this green is reachable in two for longer players. A bunker short right and middle ridge through the green await at the end.

The par 5 10th

The par 3 11th hole brings you out to the edge of the cliff and is an objectively fantastic hole as a downhill reverse redan. At 164 yards, cavernous bunkers defend right and long of a green that will carom balls left-to-right.

The 11th is a great combination of architecture and beauty
The 11th green with the Pine Valley Mountains and famous 12th in the backdrop

Arguably the most well-known hole at Sand Hollow, the 432 yard 12th is a wild straightaway par 4 with rock wall down the right and a steep cliff just left of the fairway. From an elevated teebox, there aren’t many more gorgeous teeshots in golf. OB runs down the left side the entire way and this approach plays back uphill towards a perched, back-to-front sloped green defended by a false front and two bunkers right. Unfortunately, this hole is devoid of much strategic value and was a bit of a letdown for me despite its exhilarating optics.

It’s hard to take a bad photo of the 12th hole at Sand Hollow

At 304 yards, the 13th hole continues along this steep ledge as the shortest par 4 at Sand Hollow. In my opinion a better hole than its famous predecessor, this hole provides the golfer numerous options with longer hitters having the chance to hit this green in one despite significant danger involved. The safest shot here is a long iron or wood to the wide part of this fairway short of a midline bunker at 230 yards but well-past the narrow beginning and left bunker at 180 yards. This small, narrow green features a back swale and sits perilously between rocks and the cliff.

The par 4 13th
Pictures don’t do the beauty here justice

The 14th hole continues along the ledge and is a more traditional but excellent hole as a 433 yard par 4. Playing downhill with a semi-blind teeshot, this hole runs straightaway and shorter than its yardage. A large bunker down the left at 300 yards will catch the unlucky golfer. This undulating green is among the most tricky on the course and is defended by a bunker left.

The par 4 14th
The approach at 14

The 15th hole concludes the epic stretch as a wild 191 yard par 3 playing over a chasm to a narrow sliver of green defended by bunkers short and long and OB left. The natural tendency is to bail out right, but steep rock walls and a devilish bunker on top make for a near impossible up-and-down from here. Hitting the green is an achievement at Utah’s rendition of Cypress Point’s 16th!

The intimidating and awe-inspiring 15th
The old teebox at 15 is now banned because too many people hit the rock walls!

It would always be tough for Sand Hollow to finish strong after that stretch and unfortunately the 16th hole is a letdown as a 355 yard dogleg right par 4. The prudent play is a lay-up here, as a crossbunker down the left at 210 yards and large bunker complex beginning at 230 yards on the right constrict this fairway. This green juts out behind the right bunker and features multiple plateaus.

The 16th hole isn’t a bad one, it’s just a forgettable one. This is amplified because it follows the cliff holes.

Fortunately, the 17th hole is much better as a 493 yard par 5. Like the 10th, this awesome hole is surrounded by desert and features an 180 yard carry to a slab of fairway that ends around 300 yards. At this point, a desert waste area runs for about 50 yards and the hole turns left. Longer hitters can carry this hazard in two and reach the green, but shorter hitters might have difficulty clearing it and will be left a very difficult third shot. This green sits on a mound and is surrounded by tight lies and drop-offs on all sides.

The par 5 17th provides one more chance to get a shot back
From just short of the Great Hazard at 17

Sand Hollow closes with another solid hole in the 425 yard par 4 18th. Playing uphill and longer, this is a good finisher with a generous fairway divided by a midline bunker at 260 yards and a right bunker at 295 yards. For some, it will be tough to reach this elevated, undulating green with bunkers on either side in regulation.

Pars are well-earned on the 18th

General Comments: Sand Hollow’s Resort features modern, apartment-style hotel rooms that are very nice and more than adequate for a golf trip. While I didn’t partake, there are many other activities at the Resort such as sand biking, beach volleyball, and water skiing for nongolfers. There’s also an argument to be had that the Resort is a good option for visitors to Zion National Park, which is about 30 minutes away and well-worth your time.

Sand Hollow’s practice facilities are excellent and feature a full grass driving range, short game facilities, and even a “Wee Course” with several short par threes. The Championship Course is carts-only and would likely be a tough walk given how expansive and hilly it is.

Sand Hollow’s driving range

Verdict: Full of wildly unique holes and gorgeous views, Utah’s Sand Hollow Resort is an epic public course and one I highly recommend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s