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PARK CITY COURSE IS FUN BUT NO PUSHOVER

If you've been wanting to play Park City Golf Course this year and haven't been able to get on, don't give up yet.

It's now September, when things finally start to slow down at the popular municipal course. Also, it is more reasonable because beginning today the cost goes down five bucks to $17 for 18 holes as off-season rates kick in.Park City GC, which was built 30 years ago and added on 20 years ago, is the highest course in the state at 6,900 feet. Still, its season usually runs until Nov. 1 after opening in late April (although this year it opened March 25, its earliest opening ever).

It's also one of the most scenic, lying at the base of the Park City Ski Resort with mountains all around. The course features a lot of water (it comes into play on 12 of the 18 holes) and plenty of trees.

Park City is a fun course with a nice variety of holes. It's not overly difficult, but certainly not a pushover for the better players. No one has been able to break 65 in a tournament, making the Park City course record one of the higher marks in the state.

"The greens make it difficult to score because of the curves and undulations," says head pro Doug Vilven. "And it's gotten much tighter over the years because the trees have grown up."

The first three holes, which run parallel, are nothing special, but things start getting interesting at No. 4, a short par 3 over water. No. 5 is a tough hole, with a drive over a long stretch of water to a fairway that slopes uphill and to the right. Because of the way the hole is set up, the condos right of the fairway have turned into target practice for many slicers.

The tough 180-yard par-3 8th hole is sandwiched between a couple of 500-yard-plus par 5s that are difficult to reach in two for anyone. The 9th hole is especially tough because of a pond that lies in front of the green.

You get another par 5 to start the back side with a hard-to-see pond cutting in right next to the left side of the green and behind it. The next par 5, No. 13, is perhaps the best hole on the course, a dogleg right with a pond to keep you from cutting the corner at all.

The next three holes are par 4s of similar lengths with water near each green. No. 15, a short dogleg left, seems like an easy hole with just a wedge shot is you hit a decent drive, but you must hit your ball over water to a green that slopes toward you.

The course attracts a variety of golfers that keep the course hopping all the time. Unlike most pros who can come up with some slow times during the week, Vilven honestly couldn't think of any slow times during the summer.

But autumn is a wonderful time to play there, especially with the leaves start to turn. Don't say we didn't tell you.

*****

(Chart)

Location: Lower Park Avenue, Park City

Head Professional: Doug Vilven

Designer/Yr. Opened: William Henrichsen Neff/1962 (Front) Pres Maxwell/1972 (Back)

Cost: $11/$22 in season, $8.50/$17 off-season, carts $8 per person, range $1.50/$3

Reservations: 521-2135, 7 days in advance

Easiest time to get on: June, September

Course record: 65 Bruce Summerhays, Bob Betley, Jeff Green, Rex Underground