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Golf with a taste of Scotland

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One of the biggest challenges for Utah's newest golf course, The Ranches Golf Club, is getting local golfers to know where the heck to find it.

No it's not on some old ranch land in the mountains near Park City, nor is it situated down by St. George or up in northern Utah.

The Ranches is located in the city of Eagle Mountain, not to be confused with the Eagle Mountain Golf Course in Brigham City. Eagle Mountain, on the northwest side of Utah Lake, is a less than a decade old and about five miles west of Lehi and less than 10 minutes from the south end of the Salt Lake Valley. From Salt Lake City, it's less than a half-hour's drive.

After a brief opening last fall, The Ranches officially opened on April 1 and is gradually being discovered by local golfers along the Wasatch Front. Mornings and weekends are busy, although it's still easy to get a tee time if you go early in the week or most afternoons.

The course is laid out in a Scottish Links style with no trees to speak of and no water hazards. Mounds have been included amid the rolling terrain with different types of grasses giving the course a nice visual contrast. A dried up wash runs through the course and affects about seven of the holes. Bunkers are plentiful with 128 dotting the layout. Several holes have elevated tees, giving the golfers nice views as well as a sense of comfort.

The original developers of the course left the project three years ago, and a Minnesota company, Ames Construction, took over the course and the 800 lots on the property. The company, which has a regional office here, also built the Promontory Course near Park City and has done work on the Legacy Highway.

While The Ranches is a public course, it is trying to develop its own a niche for being just a little classier with some amenities you won't find at your average municipal course.

When you drive up to the large clubhouse and are greeted by young men who take your clubs and put them on a cart, you might wonder if you're at a country club. After the round, the same young men will clean your clubs and help you get them back to the car. It's all part of the excellent positive service The Ranches is trying to provide.

The course is easily accessible with more than 250,000 square feet of concrete cart paths and distances are easy to find thanks to the black and white poles in the middle of each fairway signifying the 150-yard mark and on sprinkler heads.

"We're trying to provide service and a friendly attitude of a Thanksgiving Point at the price of an East Bay," said head pro Jared Barnes.

The course is in very good shape for a first-year course, because it wasn't rushed to open too soon like many courses are these days. The greens were built first, nearly three years ago and thus in excellent condition. The mounds just off the fairway were green in the spring and have since turned brown. But that's the way they're supposed to be, according to Barnes, to give the fescue grasses a contrast to the green fairways.

Barnes said the course will host 30 corporate events this year, and he hopes to increase that number substantially next year. It will host its first big tournament next month when the Utah Open holds its Monday qualifier on Aug. 11.

Like many modern courses, houses will be built around and through the course, which will lose much of its links feel, unfortunately. But without the housing projects, courses like this couldn't be built in the first place.

The Ranches is reasonably priced at $39, including cart, on weekdays and $44 on weekends with some twilight and walking rates offered.

E-mail: sor@desnews.com