By: Joel Zuckerman
Courtesy of Cybergolf
It’s a common enough feeling around Park City, Utah. Poised at a precipice, your heart’s a drumbeat as you contemplate the steeply twisting corridor falling away beneath your feet. You take a deep, steadying breath, and prepare to negotiate the plunging terrain safely.
But it isn’t winter, it’s summertime. You’re wearing a polo shirt and Bermuda shorts, not goggles and Gore-Tex. You were transported by golf cart, not chairlift. You’re at the first tee of one of the nation’s most breathtaking new golf experiences – Red Ledges, in Heber, Utah.
This is the 200th U.S. course designed by the preeminent Jack Nicklaus. And this milestone course, with its expansive views, up-and-down sensibility, gorgeous sandstone outcroppings and grip-and-throat-tightening uphill approach shots, continues the decade-long trend of Park City’s steady metamorphosis into a high-end golf destination.
Owing to its longtime position as one of the world’s great ski towns, a reputation further cemented by its star turn in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games of Salt Lake City, Park City will always be more closely associated with snowflakes than fairways. But in recent years, golf gear has assumed greater importance in area toy-boxes, taking its rightful place next to the skis, snowboards, mountain bikes and hiking boots. Red Ledges is just the latest reason as to why.
His most recent honor was being named official starter at the 2010 Masters, alongside longtime friend and rival Arnold Palmer. But Nicklaus has been collecting awards about as steadily as he collected his 18 major championships, and among others, was named for the fifth time by the editors of Golf Inc. Magazine as “The Most Powerful Person in Golf.” Apparently, when it came time for the owners-developers of Red Ledges to pick an architect, they espoused the philosophy, “It takes one to know one.”
Anthony Burns is the former CEO of Ryder Systems, they of the ubiquitous yellow trucks. His partner at Red Ledges is Nolan Archibald, who still occupies a similar throne at Black & Decker. Besides heading multi-billion-dollar conglomerates known the world over, both men have deep Utah roots. Archibald was born in nearby Ogden, while Burns married into a family that has extensive land holdings in the Heber Valley.
“I am amazed that in just two years since the ground-breaking, Red Ledges will open what we believe will be the finest course in the West,” said Tony Burns, whose master plan eventually will include 1,200 homes on 2,000 acres, tennis and equestrian facilities, and spa. “We are thankful to Jack Nicklaus, who has helped make our long-held vision come to life.”
The architect himself is also pleased with the end result, and his ability to assimilate some significant elevation changes into a seamless whole. “Since the topography of this area is so stunning and diverse, we were challenged to stay true to the Red Ledges vision by planning each hole around its natural surroundings,” said golf’s “Golden Bear.”
“We were able to nestle some holes around the famous sandstone ledges and situate other holes in juniper groves. I am delighted with how the course has turned out.”