HIGHLAND For five decades the 11th hole at Alpine Country Club has been one of the most well-known in Utah golf.
Many of the state's biggest tournaments have been won or lost on the straightaway, 464-yard par 4. And when weather conditions are just right or wrong, depending on whether you like your golf more difficult or a little less challenging Alpine's No. 11 can be downright wicked.
What has made the hole famous and difficult is the stream bed that dissects the hole midway between the elevated tee and green. From the tee, golfers have had to decide whether to lay up short of the creek or try to blast over it, a carry of more than 230 yards.
Well, on your next visit to Alpine, this is a decision you no longer will have to make. Because of plans to widen 4800 West, the busy road that borders the east side of No. 11, the historic hole is being plowed under.
Ironically, Alpine officials are not unhappy that their signature hole is being torn up to make way for a wider highway. In fact, most view the forced change as a blessing in disguise.
"There's no disguise in this. This is just a blessing," Alpine pro Kent Easton said.
Even though club members are currently playing a makeshift course, and will until about midsummer next year, the reason they're OK with what's going on is because the redesign of No. 11, which is also requiring the redesign of holes No. 12 and No. 13, is expected to make the course more enjoyable to play.
"When all the dust has settled, I really think our members and guests who come here to play are going to enjoy these new holes a lot more than the old ones," said Dave Anderson, chairman of Alpine's long-range planning committee.
When club officials learned this spring that government officials were planning to take part of their golf course to improve traffic in the area, they immediately took a proactive position rather than a reactive one. Knowing the road improvements are needed, they didn't fight the plan. Instead, they've been working with Utah County officials to make sure both sides come out with what they need.
The club quickly contacted golf course architect John Fought to find out if he could draft a redesign on some waste area that sits between the 11th and 13th holes. Not entirely, but with the acquisition of some land from the city of Highland southwest of the 12th green, Fought was able to draw up a redesign of the three holes that has club members smiling.
Hole 11 will now be about 15 yards shorter and have a slight dogleg right, with the green being built in what has been waste area and closer to the stream. The tees will be closer to the creek bed, which eliminates the decision on whether to lay up or not. The 12th hole will be a 155-yard par 3, about 20 yards shorter than before. The new hole goes southwest from tee to green rather than straight west. The tees for No. 13 are being moved back and closer to the stream. The hole will be about 20 yards longer and not quite as severe a dogleg.
On each of the three new holes, Fought has added character with trees, bunkers and mounds."I really think that the changes are going to be improvements," club president Dave Dorton said. "When the new holes are done and the entire 18 holes are back open, it's going to be a better golf course."