There are few things more rewarding, relaxing, humbling or frustrating — often, all at the same time — than a round of golf.
Golf is a game that you can enjoy for a lifetime. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, male or female, or in or out of shape. Just about anybody can go play nine holes and have a good time with it, so long as you don’t let your frustration get the best of you. Just because your third attempt at the same approach shot has found its way into the water hazard, your 8-iron doesn’t need to find the same watery grave.
However, part of the reason more people don’t play golf is that it can be incredibly expensive. It’s far cheaper to get your kids a soccer ball, a pair of cleats and some shin guards than it is to buy a set of clubs and a bag and an untold number of golf balls, many of which will eventually be lost in a lake or among the desert brush. But in talking to newly minted Stansbury golf coach Jeremy Alverson on Monday morning, and then doing a little research of my own, I discovered that our local golf courses here in Tooele County are trying to do something about that.
Besides the cost of equipment, greens fees aren’t cheap most of the time, either. At Eaglewood Golf Course in North Salt Lake, playing 18 holes on a weekend will cost you $32. It’s the same at River Oaks Golf Course in Sandy or Glendale Golf Course in Salt Lake City. Eighteen holes at Rose Park Golf Course will cost $30, and a round at Mountain Dell Golf Course in Parleys Canyon is $38. And while those are considered reasonable prices in the golf world — when I joined a group of friends for a weekend in Arizona last year, we paid $82 each to play at the Phil Mickelson-owned McDowell Mountain Golf Club in Scottsdale — it’s still a lot of money to ask a teenager to pay.
Granted, the junior rates are considerably lower during the week at all the Utah courses I just mentioned, but it’s particularly encouraging to see the powers that be at Oquirrh Hills Golf Course, Stansbury Park Golf Course and Overlake Golf Course provide our local youth the opportunity to play without having to travel to the other side of the Oquirrh Mountains.
At Overlake, it costs a junior player (age 17 and under) $12 to play 18 holes without a cart Tuesday-Thursday, and $14 Friday-Sunday. In Stansbury Park, it’s $5 for nine holes for anyone age 18 and under. Even on a weekend, an 18-hole round costs $20 in greens fees at Stansbury’s course for golfers of all ages. At Oquirrh Hills, it’s $9 for juniors on the weekdays and $11 on Fridays and Saturdays.
For roughly the cost of a value meal at your favorite fast-food joint — or the amount of fuel it takes to drive from Tooele to Salt Lake City and back — the youth of this county are welcome to try out the wonderful game of golf, right here in their own backyard.
That’s what the game needs in order to continue to succeed. The next generation needs to stay interested in it. The best way to keep them interested is to make it accessible. And for that, I have to tip my hat to Tooele County’s golf courses.
As someone whose hometown golf course provided a pretty good deal to high school students as well, that’s exactly how I got hooked on the game.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. Not only did he get hooked on the game of golf, but he also developed a pretty nasty slice, as well. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.