MIDWAY — The popular golf course sandwiched in between two 36-hole Utah State Parks and Recreation courses in picturesque Midway is no longer called Homestead.

The course designed by Bruce Summerhays will now be known as Crater Springs, taking advantage of the nearby iconic warm water from a crater that has been popular since the days of pioneers as a recreation destination stop.

With this new title, the course will undergo a facelift with water features that will include small lakes, streams, cascading waterfalls and new tee boxes.

The improvements should boost an already popular layout that Summerhays modeled from farmland almost three decades ago.

This work comes at a time many golf courses are struggling due to budget constraints and decreased rounds played. That somebody decided to pour some money into this Midway layout is a big deal for Utah golf.

It also boosts Midway's already tremendous golf properties.

The switch of the Homestead name to Crater Springs isn't too uncommon as new marketing plans kick in at golf properties tied to municipal economic development or private investors look to push properties. You have the Tri City's Golf Course in American Fork, owned by Lehi, Pleasant Grove and American Fork that is now Fox Hollow, and the old Timpanogos course in Provo is East Bay.

"We're thrilled to show off our 'new' course," said Chris Briscoe, director of golf. "We believe we already possessed one of the finest and most challenging golf experiences in the state of Utah, and now it just gets better."

Crater Springs opened for the season more than a week ago, about the same time the state opened the gate on the Lakes Course at nearby Wasatch State Park. With Crater Springs and Soldier Hollow to the south and the private Red Ledges, Heber Valley is fast establishing a remarkable golf inventory for not only locals but summer destination visitors who are used to tapping into the ski season in winter.

At the Homestead property, which features Fanny's Grill and Patio, the lodging facilities also have undergone a facelift with the lobby, reception area and rooms.

Work on the golf course began this week and will finish in late June.

Briscoe said construction began immediately in adding features to the course, including transforming the bunkers that protect the adjacent No. 9 and 18 greens into ponds and taking out the giant greenside trees. A pond near the patio structure of the No. 10 tee box will feed a new stream that will run by the cart path between the putting green and driving range to the No. 9 and 18 greens, where it will feed a waterfall.

Crews will move tee boxes on the popular dogleg-left No. 1 par 5 to the right, giving better sight lines to the fairway. On the left of this fairway, crews will construct another lake that will challenge big hitters from cutting across the fence and adjacent property. In other words, this will be a more challenging par 5.

"Right now when you stand on the tee box on No. 1, it feels a little awkward," said Briscoe. "This will make it more normal, and the large lake on No. 1 will help golfers line up better and aesthetically, it will be better to look at and avoid problems with tee shots cutting the corner and it will play more like a three-shot par 5."

The tee box on the par 4 No. 10 hole will be moved to the left to give better sight lines and help keep tee shots out of the driving range.

On No. 9 and 18, the trees that were in the bunker will be taken out. "It just wasn't good and those trees knocked down a lot of shots."

Briscoe said Landscapes Unlimited, one of the largest golf course construction companies in the country, will do the work and Gene Bates of Soldier Hollow will consult on the design.

"We don't expect it to interfere with play this season," said Briscoe. "We always wanted to do more with the water features of this property. The crater water now goes across the driving range and causes all kinds of problems. This new design will make better use of that remarkable and unique feature and it leverages the name."

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Briscoe said golf courses usually find times they need facelifts and Crater Springs is lucky to have owners who have stepped up and invested in the changes that will include leveling of tee boxes and a new irrigation system and bring in more sand for the bunkers.

"It's exciting, the key is we're putting more money into the course, and it'll be better for it."

With Midway and the work on Crater Springs, this place is fast becoming Utah's version of Myrtle Beach. One could plan a golf week here and never play the same course twice.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

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