New Utah golf course lures PGA Tour back to the state for its first event in 60 years

The Black Desert Championship is expected to take place in the fall of 2024.

(Black Desert Resort) The 9th hole at Black Desert Resort in Ivins. The PGA Tour is returning to Utah on the course designed by Tom Weiskopf.

Ivins • After a six-decade hiatus, the PGA Tour is finally returning to Utah and will bring many of the world’s top golfers and a global television audience with it.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox will join PGA Tour representatives at Black Desert Resort at noon today to announce the upcoming debut of the Black Desert Championship, which is expected to take place in the fall of 2024. The actual date of the event will be determined later.

“We are thrilled to partner with Black Desert Resort in bringing PGA Tour golf to the state of Utah,” PGA Tour President Tyler Dennis stated in a news release Friday morning. “In introducing the PGA Tour to a new market, we look forward to collaborating with the Black Desert Resort team in their vision for professional golf in the Greater Zion community.”

The new championship will be the first PGA Tour event in Utah since Tommy Jacobs beat Don January by a single stroke to win the 1963 Utah Open Invitational at the Salt Lake Country Club.

“We look forward to showing the world our beautiful home,” Cox told The Tribune via email.

The Black Desert Championship will be part of the PGA Tour’s 2024 FedExCup Fall, which starts in September of that year. The purse for the event is expected to be in the millions of dollars and the winner will be awarded 500 FedExCup points, according to the four-year agreement reached by the resort and tour officials.

The men’s event will be one of two professional golf events at the 650-acre resort, a $2 billion-plus development under construction in Ivins about 9 miles west of downtown St. George. The resort will also host an LPGA Tour event slated to debut in 2025.

There are only two other resorts in the country — The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón in Florida and Pebble Beach in California — that host both PGA Tour and LPGA events. Patrick Manning, the managing partner of Black Desert Resort, said the men’s event will be an economic boon.

“We are projecting somewhere between a $50 million and $70 million annual economic impact to the Greater Zion Region,” he said.

Both events will be played on the resort’s par-72 golf course, which opened in May and was the last of 73 courses designed by late golfing great Tom Weiskopf in collaboration with architect Phil Smith. The course, with its verdant greens tucked between black lava rock and framed by redrock cliffs, prompted Smith to liken the resort to Hawaii and Arizona all rolled into one.

“Black Desert is like Kona meets Sedona,” Manning said Smith told him during a visit Wednesday.

Others are also giving the resort kudos. Manning was at the resort with Cox recently as two golf-course raters with Golfweek magazine walked off the 18th hole in their direction.

“One one the raters looked at the other and said, ‘I’ve rated over 720 courses, and this is the best,’” Manning recalled. “The governor asked me, ‘Did you pay him to say that?’ I said ‘No, but I’m not above it.’”

News about the PGA Tour’s return to Utah is generating buzz in the state’s golfing community. Hall of Fame golfer Johnny Miller, who retired as NBC’s lead golf analyst in 2018, said marquee events like the Black Desert Championship are putting Utah on the map.

“This is great news,” he said. “Utah is definitely producing a lot of good players and has a lot of great golf courses. A lot of the pros vacation in Utah, and they obviously like what they see.”

Former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, an avid golfer who has played on Black Desert’s course, echoed Miller’s excitement.

“This is tremendous news for the Utah golf community,” Herbert said, adding the PGA Tour is a nice complement to the Utah Jazz and all the other sporting events in the state. “The Utah Sports Commission’s slogan is ‘Utah is the state of sport.’ I’ve always said that it is not just a slogan, it is a lifestyle.”

The event will be broadcast nationally on Golf Channel, Peacock, PGA Tour Live and ESPN+. Internationally, coverage of the tour reaches more than 200 countries and territories in 26 languages via 44 broadcast and digital partners. Events can also be accessed on a variety of social media channels, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to tour officials.

Not only will Black Desert Championship showcase the Greater Zion Region, Ivins Mayor Chris Hart said it will raise his small city’s profile as well.

“PGA — pretty great announcement,” Hart quipped. “Placing this event in Ivins is really a shot in the arm for the emerging resort destination community we are trying to be.”