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WASATCH ISN'T TOUGHEST OR BEST, JUST ONE OF THE STATE'S MOST ENJOYABLE

It certainly isn't the toughest course in Utah. And there are several courses better in terms of layout, design and overall scenery. But there aren't many, if any, courses more enjoyable to play in Utah than Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course in Midway.

Wasatch is a 27-hole layout tucked up on the east side of the Wasatch Mountains just over the ridge from the Brighton and Park City Ski resorts. It's been one of Utah's busiest and most popular courses for the past two decades, since the original Lake and Canyon nines were built in 1967 and the Mountain nine added in 1973.So what makes Wasatch so enjoyable?

First, there's the setting. Surrounded by mountains on the south, west and north and the Heber Valley to the east, Wasatch is a beautiful place to play. In the fall, when the leaves have turned color, Wasatch is absolutely gorgeous.

Then there's the weather. Being in the mountains, it's about 10 degrees cooler than in the city, a big difference on a hot July afternoon. The one disadvantage is a slightly shorter season because of snowmelt in the spring and earlier snow in the fall.

Then there's the course itself. Wasatch isn't an overly difficult course, nor does it have any driveable par-4s. It features some of the largest greens anywhere and large tee areas that stretch the course some 600 yards longer from the championship tees.

"This looks like a difficult course, but it's not," says Wasatch pro Craig MacKay. "It's very playable."

Play moves quickly at Wasatch, another advantage on the enjoyability scale. MacKay says 18-hole rounds average around four hours and 10 minutes.

Wasatch doesn't really have any "signature holes." Most of the par-5s are dogleg holes that cause the golfer to think hard about cutting the corner for a possible birdie or eagle or playing it safe and avoiding the possible triple-bogey. The toughest hole may be the 432-yard 3rd, a straight-ahead par-4 with trouble on both sides.

One of my main complaints from a recent visit to Wasatch had to do with the course maintenance in certain areas, particularly around the sand traps, where overgrown weeds stuck up high.

The other was the lack of colored flags signifying the pin placement like many courses have (blue for back, white for middle and red for front). That's especially helpful on a course with huge greens like Wasatch. Later I found out that little fluorescent flags on the flagstick signified the pin placement by their position on the stick.

Although it could be a few years away, the state is reportedly looking to expand Wasatch by 18 or even 36 holes. That would certainly double or triple the pleasure of one of the nicest places to play golf in Utah.

*****

GRAPHIC

Wasatch Mountain State Park Golf Course

Hole Par Yards*

1 4 355

2 4 331

3 4 432

4 3 146

5 5 510

6 4 395

7 3 150

8 5 498

9 4 354

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OUT 36 3171

10 5 502

11 4 412

12 4 379

13 4 364

14 4 359

15 3 159

16 4 361

17 3 153

18 5 462

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IN 36 3151

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TOTAL 72 6322

Mountain Course

1 4 369

2 3 379

3 4 381

4 4 314

5 5 455

6 4 326

7 5 508

8 3 152

9 4 385

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TOTAL 36 3021

*Middle tees

Difficulty: ***

Layout/Scenery: ****

Enjoyability index: *****

(5=highest rating, 0=lowest)

Location: Midway, Utah

Head professional: Crag Mackay

Cost: $6/12, carts $7/14, Range $1.50/$3

Reservations: Call 654-0532, Sat. for Tues-Fri., Mon for Sat., Sun., Mon.

Easiest time to get on: Late afternoons, Mondays

Course record: Mike Borich 62 (competitive)