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Dixie Red Hills Rated 24th Best in Nation

The Dixie Red Hills Golf Course in St. George received a significant national recognition early this month when it was rated the 24th best nine hole golf course in the nation by the prestigious Golf World Magazine.

“To be ranked 24th in the nation is big, especially when you realize there are about 15,000 nine-hole courses in the country,” said Thomas Pagel, UGA Executive Director.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” said Ronnie Newren, UGA Tournament Director. “Most of our guys love Dixie Red Hills and flock to it for the annual Dixie Red Hills Amateur. It is very popular.”

Al Simkins, past president of the UGA and frequent player at Red Hills, said, “I like Dixie Red Hills as much as any course in Dixie. It’s fun to play. It’s short, but challenging. The greens are fast and sloping, and they require your attention.”

Simkins also pointed out that Jay Don Blake, the only native Utahn to play regularly on the PGA Tour, grew up with Dixie Red Hills as his play ground. There were no other courses in the St. George area while he was a youngster, and it served him well. He developed a silky smooth putting stroke on the Red Hills greens.

The city, under Mayor Marion Bowler, hired Ernie Schneiter, Sr. as the architect and it first opened in 1965. It was the first golf course in the Dixie area and was popular from the very first day and through all these years has remained Utah’s best nine-hole course.

Dixie Red Hills has a spectacular red rock setting and meanders around sandstone cliffs. It features hundreds of mature Cottonwoods, Mondale Pines, Mesquite, and other trees that provide ample shade during St. George's warmer months. Each hole is quite distinct and leaves a lasting memory.

Three holes that stand out are #1, #3, and #6.

The first hole is a short, up-hill par four and is driveable, but a huge red rock sentry located adjacent to the green needs to be avoided. The first green features three tiers separated by three-foot slopes just waiting to frustrate even the best of players. Any shot hit over the green leaves a very difficult chip back.

The third hole is the only par-five at Red Hills. It forms a semi-circle around imposing sand stone cliffs. If you could tee off directly toward the green the hole would be no more than a par three.  This hole finishes with a huge two-tiered green bordered on each side by bunkers.

Hole number six is the last of three par-three holes. It requires a simple 150 yard carry over a beautiful crystal-blue lake. This is one of the most picturesque holes in the region.

 The original pro at the course was Gene Schneiter, but he preferred being a superintendent and took the superintendent’s position at Bloomington Country Club in 1968. John Lagant became the head pro in 1968 and remained until 1975.

Jay Don Blake, Robert McArthur, and Reed McArthur all worked in the pro shop during those years.  Brent Orchard took over the head position in 1975 and held it until his retirement in 2003, a stint of 28 years.

Brent passed the baton to his son Allen, who is the current head professional. Allen was previously the head professional at St. George Golf Club from 1990 to 2003, and was his dad's assistant at Dixie Red Hills from 1983 to 1900. Allen has been a professional for 28 years. 

The course is short and very walkable. About half the golfers choose to walk, which is a very high walking ratio compared to other courses.  The elevation is about 2500 feet.  The course measures 2,733 yards and is a par 34. It is rated at 66.1 and 119 from the blue tees for twice around the layout, at 65.9 and 119 from the whites, and 64.0 and 107 for the ladies from the red tees.

The driving range was adequate when it was built, but is now irons only. There are two practice putting greens near the first tee.

In the winter season, October through May, the fee is $20.50 for walking and an additional $7 for a cart.

In the summer months, June through September the fee is $12.50 for walking and $7 for a cart.

The superintendent is Jerome Jones and the assistant superintendent is Gary Flowers.

Allen’s dad and brother Paul help staff the pro shop along with Jared Brader and Rob Knowlton.

Food services are very limited, only snacks and bottled drinks and coffee are served.

Norma Swenson is the president of the women’s club, but there is no men’s club at the course.

The major competitive tournament is the Dixie Amateur in the spring and the Red Hills Amateur in the fall. They both attract the best amateurs in the state.