The next day, we drove up to St. George, Utah, one of my favorite places for scenery. After playing Wolf Creek, I was really looking forward to the beauty a course in St. George called "The Ledges" should afford.
We wanted to get there an hour early for our 8:00 teetime, and we gave ourselves almost an hour to get there from Mesquite. While driving up the road in St. George, we noticed a clock on a bank sign. Instead of saying it was almost 7:00, it read 7:44! Crap! No one mentioned the time change and obviously we didn't think of it. Fortunately, it was a weekday and not too busy, so when we arrived at a few minutes before 8:00, they were able to accommodate our late arrival and allow for a relaxed approach to the first tee.
...and practice green. You can see the chipping area behind it.
The Ledges golf course has only been open for a few months and its condition reflects that. The fairways and the greens haven't seen enough play to even seem touched. They were absolutely gorgeous. And the rough... oh yes, I saw the rough. Maybe most of the courses I'm used to have been beaten into submission by thousands of players over time. I don't know the reason - maybe it's a different type of grass or maybe it's just trying to protect itself being so new. But the rough here is ROUGH. Not that it looks rough; it looks beautiful and green and lush and not actually that long. But it's thick and grabby and difficult. It's like "keep of the grass" grass.
We got lucky with the weather. This area gets extremely hot and extremely windy. The day we played, it was only about 80 degrees with a little cloud protection and the wind didn't pick up until we were on the 17th hole. And boy, did it pick up. I'm glad we didn't have that kind of wind all four hours of the round!
Keeping with the fancy theme, the golf carts are cherry and equipped with state of the art GPS systems, which not only come in handy for yardages, but allow you to order your food for the turn right on the screen. Even the cart paths are fancy - textured squares like a giant concrete parquet floor. And the smallest detail was not lost on me - the pencils are fine and sharp and produce crisp, dark marks. These people sure seemed to have thought of everything. It sure doesn't seem like a public course. But where are the ledges?
The starter came to our cart to send us out to the first tee. The course had only recently been USGA rated, so the scorecards didn't have the ratings on them yet. He gave them to us verbally and said we'd probably find the course pleasant and easy compared to Wolf Creek. We both played from the 6230 yard white tees (the tips are 7145). The front nine was pretty basic, flat and friendly, like many public courses. Nothing too spectacular to look at, nor grand elevation changes like I was expecting. The course was designed by Matt Dye (Pete's grandson), and he did a good job for what he had to work with on the front. In my opinion, The Ledges is all about the back nine. I wonder if Mr. Dye was as disappointed as I was that the whole course couldn't have been built on that side of the road.
After you finish the front nine, you cross the main road (under it) and start the back on the other side. By George, I think we found the ledges!
They're still doing a lot of building back there, so even though the views will have more homes and less nature, they will still be gorgeous. The model home we saw was that same beautiful dark earth tone they used on the clubhouse that blends so nicely with the other colors.
I was glad I didn't have to use the restroom during the round, because there were none out on the course. With all the building going on and all the fancy details, I had some questions. Surely, there must be plans to make this a private club. So after the round, when I couldn't find Shirley, I spoke with the Tournament Coordinator, Paul Holden. First things first. Bathrooms? Should be finished within a month. Homes? 2400 will be built. (And if you're thinking of buying here, buy now, because the first 50 lots will come with a golf membership.) They will also be building another, separate, members-only clubhouse, as if the first one isn't fancy enough. Oh yes, it will be private. They're planning on a $50,000 membership fee plus $400/month in dues. So if you're not thinking of becoming a member, you have about 3 years to get out there and play the course while it's still open to riffraff like us.
I think I got spoiled by playing Wolf Creek the day before. Otherwise, this course would have seemed much more spectacular to me. They are really doing a nice job with it, and based on their plans, I would expect them to maintain it in such pristine condition. So try to keep it in the fairway!