As promised in my last post, I headed out to Utopia for a round of golf. It’s a pleasant drive through nice scenery, and it prepares you for a relaxing day.
David L. Cook, the author of Golf’s Sacred Journey, describes the Utopia course as “a simple track for unpretentious folks” that “remind(s) us of the simple pleasures of the game.” That’s an accurate description – the course reminded me of several of the courses I played in my early days. The greens are small, but well kept. The turf has suffered with the drought, as have many courses in the area, and the design is “minimalist” (another Cook descriptor). You won’t find any deep bunkers or ponds with bulkheads and island greens here.
But the course has some things going for it that a lot of simple, minimalist courses don’t. Some thought went into the design and the course is in a naturally attractive location. It also has a very nice, new clubhouse, likely a result of the filming of the movie. They have Robert Duvall’s chair from the set in the pro shop and a big movie poster on on the back porch. I sat on the porch and ate my PB&J sandwich after my round, basking in the cool, cloudy day and watching a lone golfer make his way up the ninth fairway.
I walked the nine holes in a very light breeze with the temperature in the upper 50’s and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The course is nicely laid out, with a few holes that dogleg around an old cemetery and a group of holes (4-9) that radiate from a beautiful oak grove in the center of the property. The course is located near the Sabinal River, and the copper leaves of the cypress trees along the river mark the river’s path around the course. The shot below is of the 6th green, looking toward the cypress trees in the background.
Although the course has only 9 holes, it has a nicely thought out set of alternate tees so it can be played again without perfect duplication. One hole plays as a par 4 or 5, depending on the tees, and another can be played as a par 3 or 4.
There were only a few other players on the course, and my round was relaxed and undisturbed. The staff was also personable and easygoing, and made me feel welcome. I was able to concentrate purely on the course and my game, and would have played another nine if my legs were all the way back into walking shape. I figure I’m about a week away from being ready for that. The guy in the pro shop offered me another 9 for free next time since I only went around once.
I’m going to take him up on that soon.
(Photos by the author.)