If you're talking about one of the oldest, busiest, classiest and most popular golf courses in the state, you must be talking about Bonneville.
"Bonny," which is located on Salt Lake City's east bench, is the grand old lady of public golf courses in Utah. It was one of the first public courses in the city, built in the early 1930s, with an upper nine added in 1957. Over the years, it has been a popular course for golfers of all ages and has always been one of the toughest places to get a tee time.Last year, a record 107,000 rounds were played at Bonneville and many more could have been played except that it remains one of the slower places to play in the state. Emigration Creek runs through the course and is an inviting target for lost balls. Three par-5s on the front nine that are reachable in two (or are thought to be reachable in two by many hackers) add to the problem. Six-hour rounds are not uncommon on weekends. Still, the golfers keep coming back.
The course gets a lot of "business types," according to assistant pro Steve Elliott. "We get a lot of hotel guests, even some from Park City, who ski in the morning and play golf in the afternoon during the spring." It's also the favorite hangout spot for teen-age golfers in the summer. Many of Utah's top players have learned the game playing Bonny.
The Bonneville layout is nothing special by today's fancy standards. Six holes on the upper nine run parallel to each other. The only sizable body of water on the course is a covered reservoir between No. 7 and No. 11.
The best holes are on the original nine, where the creek runs through, affecting at least five holes. The par-5 14th hole is an interesting hole, slight dogleg right with a blind, downhill second shot. The next hole, the par-3 15th, is a fun shot from an elevated tee across the creek.
And the 18th is one of the better par-3s in the state, again a mid-iron shot from an elevated tee. Hit it right and you're in the gully. Hit it left, and you hope your ball rolls off the steep hill onto the two-tier green. If it doesn't, you're left with a imposing downhill shot toward the gully. Nice way to finish your round.
Back in the '30s, Bonneville was referred to as the "the goat ranch," because sheepherders used to herd their sheep right across the course. Dick Kramer, Mr. Bonneville himself, became the pro in 1943 and has rarely missed a day of work since. Bonneville wouldn't be the same without Dick, wearing his trademark sunglasses, roaming the premises.
For years, Bonneville has been host to the Salt Lake City Amateur, which is generally considered the second biggest amateur tournament in the state, the first weekend of June. The City Parks has been a regular there for a long time, but this year it has moved to Mountain Dell.
Next week: Meadowbrook Golf Course.