Oquirrh Hills Now An 18-hole Championship Golf Course
On June 18 in 2007, Tooele City announced a new era of golf at the Oquirrh Hills golf course. A grand opening ceremony ushed in the new, long awaited, back nine holes, which made Oquirrh Hills an 18-hole championship facility.
Tooele City Mayor Patrick H. Dunlavy, Head Professional Christian Scott, Superintendent Brian Roth, Course Architect Andy Johnson and the Tooele City Council unveiled the new back nine at 8:30 a.m. on June 18th. The celebration was be held on the tenth tee box for the opening ceremony with a few words from VIPs.
Many city dignitaries, past course champions, past high school state champions and even a few of the “originals” from the front nine's construction were on hand to celebrate this big event in Tooele City golf history.
Home of the historic Western Amateur and many legendary Utah club professionals, Oquirrh Hills golf course has a celebrated significance within the Utah golf scene. The new addition was designed to blend seamlessly into the old course.
“My goal (for the back nine) ... was to create an old-school course with modern-day challenges,” said architect Andy Johnson.
Oquirrh Hills became the home of Tooele High School's first golf team in the early 1960s and nurtured two state championship teams in 1977 and 1998. Rob Jensen, the coach of the 1998 team, was a member of the first White Buffaloes squad. Paul Griffith, who played for the 1977 team, died the year before his son, Brock, helped Tooele win the 1998 title.
“It is so much fun playing a golfer-friendly layout like the original nine at Oquirrh Hills that I wanted to continue that fun throughout the back nine,” said Johnson, an award-winning architect based in the upscale Colorado mountain town of Edwards.
While the new nine, sitting under the “T” on the mountain, seems to have a links look, that's only temporary. With the planting of 425 trees, the new nine “will age gracefully,” according to Johnson, as the trees “grow to match the feel and strategy of the original nine.”
Many folks deserve credit for their role in the new nine's development, but as City Council member John Hansen said, “Nothing happens unless the mayor starts the ball rolling. Finally, things seemed to come together.”
1920s: Golf is first played in Tooele on a sand-greens course that would “die a natural death, because of the Depression,” according to a historian.
1949: Tooele Golf Course opens, thanks primarily to the efforts of the Lions Club and the Tooele Volunteer Fire Dept. Johnny Gergely is the course's first PGA professional.
1950: Ernie Schneiter Jr., now a member of the Utah Golf Hall of Fame, becomes the pro.
1956: The idea of adding nine more holes is initially discussed.
1960: The course hosts the Women's State Amateur, won in match play by Wendy Wangsgard.
1962: Tooele High School's first golf team is formed.
1972: A contest is staged to select a new name for the course: “Oquirrh Hills.”
1974: Kean Ridd, from one of Utah's most prominent golf families, becomes the pro.
1977: Tooele High wins the Class 3-A state championship.
1979: Doug Vilven, a recent winner of the Utah Section PGA's Gold Club Award, becomes the pro.
1990: Gary Mathie, who would retire in 2005 as the course's longest-tenured pro, takes the position.
1998: Tooele High wins another 3-A state championship.
2005: Christian Scott becomes the pro; construction begins on the new nine holes.
2007: The new nine opens for play.
2016: Cody Lopez becomes the Head Golf Pro.
2017: Tooele High golf team returns to Oquirrh Hills as their home course.
- Mature 18 Hole Championship Layout
- Par 72 playing 6611 Yards from the back tees and 4042 from the forward tees
- 6 sets of tees for all levels of play
- Well Manicured Course, known for its excellent greens
- Practice Facilities open until dark
- High net, full length driving range
- Putting Green
- Chipping Area with Green Side Practice Bunker
- Greenside Practice Bunker
- Professional Staff
- 3 Day Advance Bookings
- Full Service Pro Shop and Clubhouse
- Banquet Facilities
- Located on the east bench of Tooele City
- Just thirty minutes from Salt Lake City
- Full service café serving breakfast, lunch and dinner
Hole by Hole
1st Hole: Par 5, 473 yards
Looks can be deceiving; don’t let the length fool you. From the tee box there doesn’t appear to be much trouble. The real issue will be for short drivers off the tee their approach shot which will have to carry a creek and pond on this opening par five. Long hitters may even reach the water. Most golfers will have to deal with the water on their second shots. Like most of our greens on the front nine, the green here is small and pretty tough to hit. The green is guarded by sand and grass bunkers.
2nd Hole: Par 3, 170 yards
The newest hole on the front nine, this scenic par three is a potential birdie hole with a well placed tee shot. Your tee shot must carry a water feature. Club selection is key as anything long on the green will run off the back.
3rd Hole: Par 4, 320 yards
Tree lined fairways creates a need for a fairly straight drive. Longer hitters can reach the green if they can thread the needle. Club selection from the tee box is important for a chance at a good score. This uphill dogleg left requires some thought as to what club you want to hit for your second shot. Trouble waits for those outside the tree lines.
4th Hole: Par 4, 411 yards
This challenging dogleg right is the hardest hole on the course. Longer hitters from the tee can carry the corner and have a wedge to get home. Average length drivers will have to shape long iron into another small green. Don’t miss this green long or left. Play for your approach to be short of middle of the green.
5th Hole: Par 4, 360 yards
This hole was redesigned as dogleg left last year with new trees and a shift in the fairway. From the tee box your aiming point is the large Chinese Elm tree. Avoid the native meadow to the left and the fence line right is out of bounds. The green on this hole maybe one of the most challenging in the state; having two levels and a false front. Don’t be too aggressive with your approach as anything past the pin will cause heartache.
6th Hole: Par 4, 385 yards
Another tight tee shot where aiming left will reward you with a good second shot. More trees line the fairway here. Colorado Spruce pines surround the green and provide a scenic backdrop as well as trouble for long shots. Any approach shot to the middle or left will roll to the left. Knowledge of the pin placement is important if you are looking for a birdie chance.
7th Hole: Par 5, 543 yards
Don’t be left off the tee. Heavy trees left will cause trouble. Long hitters can get past the valley in the fairway. A good drive and well struck second will get you home in two. This hole provides a great view of the Stansbury mountain range in the distance.
8th Hole: Par 4, 352 yards
Heading back to the clubhouse, the eighth hole is pretty straight forward but has out of bounds area to the right. Trees left define the fairway. Hit your straightest club off the tee as length of the tee shot isn’t as important as keeping it in the fairway. The small green is a challenge guarded by trees behind and bunkers in front. This was originally the starting hole in 1949.
9th Hole: Par 3, 240 yards
The longest par three on the golf course also offers the smallest green on the course. The green slopes to the back and to the left. Reaching the green is not an easy task from any tee box. The prevailing wind is right to left out of the canyon. This is one of the strongest par three holes in the state.
10th Hole: Par 4, 365 yards
Two well struck irons are all that is needed to score well on the first hole of the new nine. The right side is lined by a lateral hazard through the green. The small green theme is continued here and anything long or right will be trouble. The green is visually deceptive; make sure you have the correct line as you putt for birdie.
11th Hole: Par 4, 354 yards
You will have to carry at least 200 yards to get over the bridge to the center of the fairway. Long hitters will be tempted to go for the green but the natural meadow runs the length of the fairway to the left and is wider than can be seen from the tee. Bite off as much as you dare and be committed to your tee shot. The tee box is nearly hundred feet above the fairway.
12th Hole: Par 4, 392
A view of Middle Canyon to the front of you will take demand your attention but beware of the strength of this par four. This hole will play a lot longer as it heads into the canyon wind. The uphill fairway offers a grass bunker to the right that will catch sliced shots. The green is deep and could play as much as a two club difference depending on pin placement. Par is a good score here.
13th Hole: Par 3, 200 yards
This hole will play to a 185 carry. You must hit the green to have a chance any at par. There is a little room to the right but center of the green is your target. Left sand bunker protects the two tiered green. The canyon breeze will be coming from above the old railroad trestle. Don’t be long.
14th Hole: Par 5, 600 yards
This downhill par five offers a split fairway but both directions are tight landing areas. Right side is out of bounds. The left is guarded by native meadow. The green can be viewed from any location on the fairway because of its elevation. Your approach shot will be the key to a good score as you close in on this mountainous green. The green is deeper than it appears.
15th Hole: Par 3, 154 yards
Don’t be right or long. The canyon winds will be in your face so club selection will be determined by the strength or lack of it, of the wind. There is room to miss to the left. Go for birdie!
16th Hole: Par 4, 385 yards
The longer your drive is the more receptive the green will be to your approach shot. A long drive will give you the best chance at a good score. Shorter hitters will face a risk/reward situation over the lake on their approach shots. How much of the lake are you willing to carry? Shots long and over the green will add a few extra shots to your score.
17th Hole: Par 5, 535 yards
A good tee shot will place you on top of the hill in the middle of the fairway. Aim right of the clubhouse and take it deep. This is a true two-shot par five. It will take 270 yards to get to the top of the hill. This stadium hole will test your putting skills as you deal with some undulation throughout this small green.
18th Hole: Par 4, 350 yards
One of the features of architect Andy Johnson’s designs is that you can always see the green from the tee box. On this finishing hole you will see your goal right out in front of you. Hit the driver as this hole plays uphill and into the wind. The green is fronted by bunkers left and right. Here is your last chance at birdie. Play well!