West Valley City • The head golf professional, superintendent and clubhouse are still the same, a comforting notion considering that Mike Richards and John Brubaker are the only pro and greenskeeper this course has ever had and hundreds of folks have celebrated weddings and other big life moments on the upper floor of the facility.
But this is not your father's West Ridge Golf Course not even close. Heck, it doesn't even have the same name.
The par-72 course next to USANA Amphitheater in the vicinity of 5600 West and 5000 South is now known as The Ridge Golf Club. The West Valley City-owned course staged its grand reopening on Friday, about 21 months after it closed in October 2011 to make way for the Utah Department of Transportation's Mountain View Corridor project, which cuts a swath through the middle of the course but really isn't that noticeable.
Taking the $18 million or so it received from UDOT, West Valley City enlisted noted golf course designer Gene Bates and overhauled the entire course, creating an outstanding "new" addition to the Utah golf scene.
"It is a totally new golf course; every hole is different," Richards said. "We are very proud of what we have put together here."
They should be.
Opened in 1991, West Ridge was a decent municipal golf course designed by Bill Neff, but had a few screwy holes and almost always seemed to feature the persistent south wind hence its nickname, "Wind Ridge" and some browned-out greens and fairways.
Bates' new design obviously can't do anything about the wind, but still features plenty of memorable holes, the same spectacular views and enough tee boxes five per hole to make the course playable.
"It is a course that is not going to beat you up," Richards said.
It measures 6,753 yards from the tips (black tees) and 3,402 yards from the most forward tees, the green tees.
Seriously, just 3,402 yards.
Bates, who was on hand Friday for the 20-person ribbon cutting, and Richards said one of the elements of the course they are most proud of is the "Wee Tees," tee boxes that are about halfway down most of the fairways.
"For juniors and grandparents," Bates said.
Richards said the city's goal was to "recapture our customer base and to capture some new customers as well," and in that endeavor they seem on the right cart path to success.
"We knew we had to come up with something pretty special to get them back here," he said. "I just think the design is going to bring them back, I really do. The quality of the golf course is much better, all the way from the way the greens were built, to the bunkers and the tees. There is just a lot more quality going on here now."
Indeed, there are wall-to-wall cart paths, and one of the best practice facilities at a public course in the state with a driving range, chipping green and putting green that is not nearly as severely sloped as the old one.
Although he joked at the ceremony Friday that it was "quite an adventure, dealing with all the [government] entities," Bates called the overhaul a huge success and accomplishment.
"The process allowed us to bring the golf course into the modern era of golf course design, if you will," he said.
If there's a signature hole, it is the downhill par-3 fifth. The green is surrounded by water on three sides, sort of like No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass in Florida. The 13th and 17th holes, both par-5s, are fun risk-reward holes.
The city purchased 40 new acres to replace the 37 that UDOT gobbled up, so the course isn't jammed into too small of an area, like Old Mill Golf Course on the opposite side of the valley. Along with Richards and Brubaker, director of parks and recreation Kevin Astle was also heavily involved in overseeing the project.
"It has been our baby," Richards said. "This is a moment I have been waiting for for a long time."
Local golfers have also waited a long time, and their patience has surely been rewarded.
The Ridge Golf Club
(Formerly West Ridge Golf Course)
Reopened • Friday
Cost of renovation • $18 million
Par • 72
Yards from back tees • 6,753
Notable feature • Juniors and beginners can play from the "Wee Tees" which makes the course about half as long, some 3,402 yards