Glenwild garners top honors again
June 20, 2007
Sometimes the best things are well hidden.
From the highway it just looks like a winding road to the top of the hill, but venture over the top and there lies a little piece of golfer’s heaven at Glenwild Golf Club.
"You look down and it’s an unbelievable view," says director of Golf Ken Weyand.
And he’s not just gushing because it’s his course. For the third consecutive time in six years Golf Digest has named Glenwild as the No. 1 golf course in Utah.
The magazine bases its ranking on the responses of raters that travel the state grading each course on various facets of the golf experience like walkability, tradition, shot value, caddy programs and clubhouse amenities. Glenwild scored high in all of them, including a few — like the caddy program where other courses don’t even have the programs in place to compete.
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According to Glenwild golf superintendent Dave Willis, design is the No.1 reason a course gets a high ranking. At Glenwild that’s not much of a concern with a course designed by Tom Fazio, considered by most to be the best course designer in the world.
"A lot of people come here just because of Tom," Willis said. "When they see how it plays and is designed, that’s what attracts them to join."
The upkeep of that design is also important. Willis said he was not sure when the raters were going to show up over the 10-moth rating period, so the course had to be at its best at all times. He says that was not a problem. With a large crew of more than 30 grounds and maintenance workers, Willis keeps the course in optimum shape at all times. He tries to keep the course at a high level of play at all times, keep the greens at a tour-quality 9.5- 11 speed on a daily basis.
The mountain setting doesn’t hurt either, nestled into a valley, homes overlook the course in the center. Lakes and foliage dot the course and give it a uniquely natural feel.
"I’ve been at a number of different clubs. What makes this different is the setting," Weyand said.
The members seem to appreciate the course as well.
"They love the course," Willis said. "They like who we are and what we provide."
He thinks that proximity is also a factor. Being located just off of Interstate 80, Glenwild easily accessible to members from both Park City and Salt Lake. Willis says that about one third of membership hails from Salt Lake, so being able to come up and play a quick round is important.
A focus on members.
Right now they only have about 200 members, and with a membership cap at 325, membership director Mick Wydra says that members get a personal touch, with a staff that knows them and plenty of opportunities to play.
Along with the small membership is a very limited number of home sites at the club. The focus on golf rather than real estate has made a big difference, Weyand said.
"We have a lot of integrity based solely on golf, not just real estate," Weyand said. "Golf is the No.1 premise."
Wydra adds that because they are not a real estate-focused club, members do not need to own property at Glenwild. Besides Salt Lake and Park City members, a large contingent hails from around the country and one member is from Europe.
The small membership also gave Weyand, Willis and the other staff members the time to talk to the raters and give them the same attention that they give the members.
Glenwild is traditional in its course layout. There are no significant elevation changes. No roads or home run through the course and they haven’t tried to create any man-made mountain-like features, Weyand said.
"It would get a high ranking no matter where it was," Weyand said. "It’s the consistency of what the rater sees"
Glenwild also boasts the state’s only caddy program, which garners points that no other course can match.
"Caddies are part of the tradition of the game," Weyand said. "Here we are more about the experience and the caddy adds to that."
The members support the program and try to use the young caddies as much as possible. Weyand likes the connection it provides to the community, as many young aspiring golfers from area high school come over to Glenwild to take advantage of the program. Another plus is the amenities that the club offers. The clubhouse has both a spa and fitness center for the non-golfer or members just looking to relax.
But Weyand feels that really the high ranking is all about consistently creating a positive experience every time a golfer steps onto the Glenwild course.
"We just have to make sure that the four or five hours are very good four or five hours," Weyand said.