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Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Golfing the Beehive State - Rough Writer

Golfing With Kids

TRAVEL NOTES FROM A ROUGH WRITER

Heading back from the Seattle coast, we decided to detour southeastward to the Beehive State of Utah. A fellow golfer had just spent a week in the southwestern corner and had raved about the area's stunning national park scenery and, what else, memorable golf!

We headquartered at St. George at Greene Gate Village, a restored pioneer home in a quiet neighborhood, where we lounged around the pool and swatted a few tennis balls. The skies were clear, as spring and fall are delightful, usually in the '60s. Prices are very reasonable, or rather, downright cheap by today's standards.

Nearby is Zion National Park, a series of dramatic gorges, canyons and pink rock walls that shimmer in the clear light. Another interesting area is Bryce, where the native Paiute Indians may have called the stone formations "red rocks standing like men in a bowl-shaped canyon," as the configurations do look intriguing.

We had a great view of the canyon at 7:30 a.m. from the 9,105-foot high Rainbow Point. This lookout point is one of the best places for photography, as the sparkling sunlight seems to make the canyons glow. We also spotted hawks, ravens and swallows, always at the ready, winding their way through lonely canyons.

St. George has its share of chain accommodations, and there are some pretty good condominium golf packages too. Considering how much this town has grown (from 13,000 people to 26,000 plus), golf development was bound to come. Our first trip to the tees was to Green Spring Golf Course, a city-owned gem in Washington City, just north of St. George. The course was designed by Gene Bates, who had been with Nicklaus Design. It meanders around the desert with huge expanses between holes, gorgeous rolling greens and contoured fairways. We were awed by the stunning vistas of Pine Valley Mountain. There were plenty of rental clubs, and we liked the policy of unrestricted walking allowed.

Next morning, we started out at Twin Lakes Golf Course, a challenging par three course cut into a mountain. Sunbrook Golf Course, a city course opened in 1990, gave us a taste of what golf on the moon might be like. The course was against a backdrop of barren desert sand, sagebrush and an abundance of red rock. Quite to our surprise, we found the par three 13th hole with a green completely surrounded by deep blue water. Of course, when my ball kerplunked into the water, I told my golf companions that I had wanted to see if the water was for real.

Other courses worth checking out are Dixie Red Hills, a picturesque 9-hole layout whose claim to fame seems to be it's open 365 days a year. There's also Southgate, with variable desert terrain and a back nine that runs through mountain foothills, and St. George Golf Course, a relatively flat course bisected by the Virgin River, with a city view from the clubhouse.

You won't find the glitz and glitter of other desert resort areas in the St. George vicinity - no limos, cabaret shows or all-night discos. But you WILL find breathtaking red-rock scenery, friendly locals, good courses, and credit card charges too good to be true.

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