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Sun River Comes of Age, To Host UGA Winterchamps

After many years of struggling with difficult turf conditions Sun River Golf Course has finally arrived as one of Utah’s outstanding golf courses. Out with the old reputation and in with the new. Sun River is a great place to play golf.

“People are mistaken if they are clinging to the past when it comes to Sun River,” said Ron Newren, UGA Tournament Director. “The greens are superb—fast and smooth.” 

“There are a few holes that still have draining issues, but the course has come a long ways in recent years. There are still some spotty areas, but that only affects appearance, not playability,” he said.

The Utah Golf Association added it to its list of tournament caliber golf courses last year when it gave Player Performance Ranking to its Sun River Senior Amateur, and this year the UGA selected it as one of the sites for the popular UGA Winterchamps Tournament.

“We are proud to be hosting the UGA Winterchamps,” said head professional Neil Economy. “It shows the growth and progress that Sun River has made. This recognition is exciting for us.”

Sun River opened ten years ago and immediately had difficulty growing grass on the alkaline soil. It would show progress and then get washed out with heavy rains and floods and the ebbs and flows of conditioning damaged its popularity.

However, management was very successful in building a wonderful housing community and with the support of the residents and continually putting forth best efforts in improving the golf course it has been in very playable condition for several years.

Sun River Golf Club is a public course that was built amid a 55 and older golf cart retirement community. Most of the residents have their own golf carts. The golf course is a par 35 on the front nine and a 36 on the back nine with three par fives on the back. Built along the Virgin River the views of the red rock mesas and Pine Valley Mountain are wonderful.

The golf course is marvelously designed with some of Utah’s very best golf holes. All the par threes are interesting and varied. The finishing par four holes on nine and 18 are demanding holes with elevated greens that are challenging to putt.

On the front nine the par five seventh hole is dangerous from start to finish with water on the right impacting all shots. On the back nine the par four 13th hole that requires crossing over the same creek bed twice is very demanding and impossible to par if you play from the wrong tee box for your ability level.

The course is owned by a group of investors and is open to public play. The fees are $60 from January through May; only $39 from June through September, and $50 from October through December. These prices include carts.

LaMar Madsen is the General Manager of the operations at the Sun River Golf Course. Neil Economy is in his second year as the head professional. The original professional was Steve Sargent, followed by Matt Dame.

The superintendent is Kevin Hernandez under management of Grounds Keepers. He is doing a wonderful job. A previous superintendent, Mike Petersen, was also instrumental in the marvelous turnaround of the conditioning.

The clubhouse offers outstanding food service in a nice setting and that portion of the operation is managed by Delayne Whiting. Many nearby residents dine there.

Sun River has no assistant professionals at this time, but non-professional staffers include Josh Thuet, Jay Palmer, Michael Gray, Bob Ludlow, Pete Bennett, Michael Brash, and mechanic Kent Rawley. Outside service volunteers include Steve Terry, Sebastian Nay, Andrew Huff, and Jack Dolce.

The men’s club president is Alan DeBracy and Jerry Miranda is the men’s club champion. The women’s club president is Jan Wasden and the women’s club champion is Teri McKesson.

The ratings, slopes, and yardage from each set of tees are as follows:  Black tees- 70.6/111, 6704 yards Gold tees- 68.1/112, 6134 yards White tees- 65.4/107, 5541 yards Forward tees, 62.0/100, 4786 yards  The elevation of the course is 2500 feet and is  easily walkable.