“The ball really does fly farther at elevation,” I thought as the tiny white sphere violently hooked from view. Golfing in the mountains comes with certain baked-in hazards, like the precipitous declivity that claimed my repurposed range ball. Best bring a couple of spares when hitting the links around here. Park City is home to some of the most outrageously expensive and exclusive golf courses in the world. Thankfully, it also has some wonderful and quirky public courses available to those of us who don’t travel on a personal private jet. We tore it up on the fairways, greens and frequently the rough to break down our favorites and even consulted with a local caddy to get an expert’s opinion.
Who It’s For: Players who’d happily trade the 6-iron for a six-pack.
Highlights: Friendly course layout, affordable rates and centrally located in Park City
Après: Nearby Silver Star Café (1825 Three Kings Dr., Park City) has live music on the patio for cocktails and appetizers.
Caddy’s Take: “It’s a great place to play barefoot with a bunch of non-pretentious local ski bums passing time in the summer months.”
1541 Thanyes Canyon Dr., Park City, 435-615-5800, parkcity.org
Who It’s For: Players chipping away at their handicap, not the ball stuck in the bunker.
Highlights: Two 18-hole courses (Canyon and Lake), public driving range, challenging and dramatic features on Lake Course
Après: The Sandwedge Café (7603 E. Mt. Dell Golf Rd., SLC), located in the same building as the pro shop, has affordable sandwiches and beers.
Caddy’s Take: “It’s one of the only public courses with a driving range in the area, and it’s significantly tougher than PC Muni. There are more serious golfers working on their games there.”
Parley’s Canyon, I-80 Exit 134, SLC, 801-582-3812, mountaindellgc.com
Who It’s For: Players who want to infuse some mountain climbing into their golf game.
Highlights: Unique setting, 300-foot elevation change on hole 10, the tricky island green on 18
Après: Drafts Burger Bar (3000 Canyons Resort Dr., Park City) in Canyons Village has delicious monster burgers and 20 beers on tap.
Caddy’s Take: “It’s kind of an insane place to play golf because it’s very much on the side of a cliff. The massive elevation change on some holes makes for some memorable shots, though.”
3636 Willow Draw, Park City, 435-615-4728, parkcitymountain.com
Who It’s For: Players who are too busy taking in the views to keep track of tee shots.
Highlights: Two distinct 18-hole courses (Lake and Mountain), incredible scenery, cool temperatures
Après: Midway Mercantile (99 E. Main St., Midway) has an excellent patio and even better farm-to-table menu.
Caddy’s Take: “It’s hard to get too upset about shanking one into the bunker when the scenery is as good as it is underneath those massive peaks in Midway.”
975 Golf Course Dr., Midway, 435-654-0532, stateparks.utah.gov
If you’ve worked up an appetite after golfing through the Wasatch Back, check out our guide on where to eat in Midway (and Heber too).