I am going to admit it right off the top: I’ve had worse assignments over the course of my career as a sportswriter at The Salt Lake Tribune.
Much worse, although this particular one hasn’t been good for the ol’ waistline, and this article obviously isn’t in the sports section.
Best golf course food in Utah
Mountain Dell Golf Course (Salt Lake City), Links at Sleepy Ridge (Orem), The Ledges of Saint George
Best patio views
Mountain Dell, South Mountain Golf Club (Draper), Park City Municipal
Wasatch Mountain State Park (Midway) and Soldier Hollow Golf Club (Midway)
Best hot dogs
The Barn Golf Club (Ogden), The Ridge Golf Club (West Valley City), Glenmoor Golf Course (South Jordan)
Gladstan Golf Club (Payson), Links at Sleepy Ridge, Mountain View Golf Course (West Jordan)
My task was simple, sort of: Find which of Utah’s many wonderful, public-access golf courses serve up the best food. It was a toughie, but somebody had to do it, right?
So which course won in our very non-scientific research? The "study" included dozens of personal visits and requests for reader input on Twitter and blogs.
Will you settle for a three-way tie?
The inaugural Best Golf Course Food in Utah awards go to the Canyon Pines Cafe at Mountain Dell Golf Course in Parley’s Canyon, the new Pheasant Coop eatery at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course in Orem and the Fish Rock Grille at the Ledges Golf Club near Saint George.
Almost every course serves up hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries, so keep reading to find out which courses have the best of those.
Overall, however, I found Mountain Dell, Sleepy Ridge and The Ledges had that little something extra, be it the blackened chicken wrap and spectacular views from the patio at Mountain Dell, the famed sweet potato fries and ribs with watermelon barbecue sauce at the Pheasant Coop or the drive-up window at The Ledges, where the huge breakfast burrito will keep you going for 18 holes, or at least until lunchtime.
Canyon Pines Cafe at Mountain Dell Golf Course
Generally, golf courses don’t own and operate the eateries on their property. They lease them out to private businesses, such as Red Onion Catering, which is the food concessionaire at Salt Lake City-owned courses Bonneville, Glendale and Rose Park.
However, the menus and ownership at the city’s Wingpointe — which has some of the best breakfasts you’ll find anywhere — and Mountain Dell are different. And it is at Mountain Dell’s Canyon Pines restaurant where manager Amanda Blank serves up Reubens, pulled pork sandwiches, buffalo wings and the delectable "Canyon Pines Burger," for $7.50.
Made-to-order deli sandwiches, fresh ingredients and the ability to eat out on the patio east of the clubhouse also make the dining experience at Mountain Dell memorable, Blank said.
Pheasant Coop at Sleepy Ridge Golf Course
A 30-year veteran in the restaurant business, Craig Borlik started the Pheasant Coop (named after the pheasant farm that once inhabited the land near Utah Lake that Sleepy Ridge was built upon) in March as an offshoot of his successful State Street Feed & Supply catering company. Borlik, who once worked as actor Robert Redford’s chef, calls the offerings at his first foray into golf course cafes as "classic comfort food, but with a current twist."
Along with the aforementioned ribs and sweet potato fries, the shrimp Caesar salad and chicken chipotle wrap are very good, but a bit on the pricy side.
Another unique feature: A sign on the ninth tee at Sleepy Ridge promises golfers that they can phone in their order before they tee off, and "if it is not ready [at the turn], it is free."
Borlik said the promise is inspired by the "Lightning Lunch" promotion Applebees used to run, having opened a franchise of that chain in Orem years ago.
"We don’t win all the time, which is OK, if we are busy," he said.
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