Where the 12th requires a precise tee shot threaded between red-rock mountains to the right and a colossal drop-off to the left, most other holes at Sand Hollow provide ample room to land a drive.
The 12th is typical in one respect, however. Like the rest of the course, it is carved out of red rock and sand in a style that uses the natural beauty of the setting to perfection.
Location: Part of the Golf Mesquite Nevada consortium, Sand Hollow is adjacent to Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, Utah, just northeast of St. George, and less than an hour’s drive from Mesquite, Nev. We used the Eureka Hotel & Casino in Mesquite as home base for our early December 2012 trip to the Mesquite area.
When staying in Mesquite and traveling to Utah, don’t forget that you lose an hour when you cross the state line into Utah. Accordingly, an 11 a.m. tee time at Sand Hollow (Mountain Time) translates to 10 a.m. in Mesquite (Pacific Time). For the 11 a.m. tee time at Sand Hollow, for instance, it’s advisable to leave Mesquite no later than 8:30 a.m.
The Course: The aesthetics of the golf course are phenomenal, but so are the routing and the playing characteristics. Because Sand Hollow is built at 3,000 feet, the 7,315 yardage from the back tees isn’t really as daunting as it appears on the card, and the blue-tee yardage of 6,893 is really quite comfortable. Typically, the ball will fly about five percent farther than it does at sea level, because of the thinner air.
Shortly after it opened in 2008, Golf Digest ranked the Sand Hollow’s Championship Course the No. 1 course in the state. The web site, www.sandhollowresort.com, provides access to tee times, real estate and vacation rentals.
Favorite Holes: The aforementioned 12th, which plays to 443 yards from the tips, 432 from the blue tees. After the most demanding tee shot of the round, from markers high above and at an angle to the fairway, the golfer faces a challenging uphill shot with a mid-iron to a green guarded by deep bunkers.
The 320-yard, par-4 13th. Short and drivable with the wind behind you, the 13th features a bunker in the center of the fairway at sand-wedge distance from the green. At all costs, you must avoid that bunker off the tee to set up a short shot to a difficult, windswept green. Too far left on the approach, and you’re at the bottom of the gorge. Bail to the right, and you’ll have difficulty keeping your downhill chip on the green, particularly to the back pin locations.
The 230-yard, par-3 15th. A daunting hole (191 yards from blue tees) that plays downhill from tees that were built among jagged red rocks. It’s a drop-shot hole, and wind can play havoc with your shot, which will stay in the air an inordinately long time. The good news is that the green is a much bigger target than the view from the tee would suggest.
Weather: When we played at Sand Hollow on Dec. 2, the conditions were perfect—65 degrees and sunny. A simple turtleneck was all I needed. Contrast that to December 2011, when we teed off at nearby Coral Canyon in 30-degree weather, wearing thermal underwear, heavy gloves and ski masks. The bottom line is that it pays to monitor the forecasts before arriving at the tee. Late-morning tee times are best in the winter, because, even in chilly temperatures, the clear sky and high sun make it seem warmer than it really is.
Accommodations: The Eureka was a perfect choice for a golf trip. The hotel is completely separate from the hubbub of the casino, so there are no issues with cigarette smoke or noise. The casino, however, is only steps away, and the dining options are diverse—from an ample buffet to upscale Gregory’s Mesquite Grill, where we had a quiet dinner with excellent food and attentive service.