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HOMESTEAD REQUIRES ACCURATE SHOTS - AND LOTS OF GOLF BALLS

SHARE HOMESTEAD REQUIRES ACCURATE SHOTS - AND LOTS OF GOLF BALLS

Two pieces of advice before you play the new Homestead Golf Course:

1) Bring an extra dozen golf balls.2) Leave your driver home.

If you want to ignore piece of advice No. 2, then amend the first piece of advice. Bring an extra two dozen balls.

One thing about the scenic new Homestead Golf Course at the Homestead Resort: Playing it requires accuracy, not to mention a lot of patience.

The fairways are tight, partly because land was at a premium and also because course designer Bruce Summerhays wanted to have a championship-caliber golf course.

He's got that, with a couple of big tournaments already scheduled there later this summer. The course was designed with the average golfer in mind with several tee boxes on each hole. But you still have to hit them straight wherever you hit from. Water comes into play on at least half the holes.

Chronic slicers will have problems on several holes. No. 2 is a slight dogleg left, so a sliced ball aimed down the middle of the fairway will find its way over a fence on the right. If you aim left and go left, you'll never find your ball in the thick wetlands.

You'll have the same problem at No. 8, a 501-yard par-5. A fade or slice will take you over the fence on the right side. In fact the day our foursome played, we saw someone, who appeared to be out working in his field off to the right. On closer inspection, we saw he was picking up balls, his pockets bulging and hands full of white and orange spheres. The owner of this property will probably get rich selling stray golf balls.

No. 9 is dogleg right that requires an iron shot off the tee for most. But even a good iron shot may leave you with a 200-yard uphill shot over a wide creek. Again, several possibilities exist for lost balls off the tee and on your second or third shot.

After nine holes, many first-timers may be ready to give up, even if they have plenty of balls left in their bag. But they should hang in there. The back nine is more fun. It's more open and you can finally hit some big woods without feeling a bit claustrophobic looking at narrow targets.

No. 10 is very short, just 315 yards from the blue tees, and you can probably get away with a 6-iron off the tee. The 10th was originally a par-5 dogleg to the left but had to be re-designed because of the land problems late last year. The 14th is also a completely redesigned hole, a right-angle dogleg right par-5 with a lot of potential when the grass fills in.

The setting and views at the Homestead are hard to beat. Up at the 13th green/14th tee, the highest point of the course, you have a magnificent view of the Heber Valley below. Then when you reach the 15th green, you may be surprised to see the Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course looming just a good Kurt Moore-drive away to the north.

Because of the redesigned holes, there are some long stretches between the 10th and 11th holes and Nos. 17 and 18. It's not a problem on the nifty new golf carts, which are required before 2 every afternoon. Those who insist on walking after 2 p.m. receive their share of exercise and save a few bucks. The golf shop and clubhouse is one of the fanciest around.

The idea for the Homestead course came about four years ago. Lem Stroud, a local property owner, approached Summerhays, the pro at Wasatch at the time, about designing a course. More property was acquired until there was enough for a golf course to go alongside the Homestead resort, already famous for its lodging.

Jerry Sanders, who bought the Homestead resort at the same time, thought the idea was a good one. "We realized we needed additional attractions and the land was available for a course," he said.

"It's a fun course to play, but you do lose a few balls," said Sanders.

For Summerhays, it was his first try at course design and he's pleased with how it turned out, even with the land problems.

"Designing the course was a lot of fun, especially the greens" he said. "It's amazing how fast the greens have come around."

The greens are sculpted with plenty of variety. The finishing holes, 9 and 18, share a double green, with two trees and a huge trap between them in front. If you lose a ball in the trees near No. 9, don't surprised to find a few volcanic rocks scattered about from the nearby volcano.

Summerhays says a couple of years may be needed for the course to fully mature. But except for the two or three redesigned holes, the course is perfectly playable now.

And it's the kind of course people say will grow on you the more you play it. Just remember bring a big dose of patience . . . and your ball retriever, of course.