Weiskopf’s Final Course is Quite the Swan Song

Black Desert Golf Club near St. George cements an architectural legacy.

by Jon Rizzi

LEGACY LAYOUT: “I know Tom’s proud of the work we did here,” Phil Smith says of Black Desert Golf Club in Ivins, Utah. Courtesy Phil Smith

Fiery player, outspoken commentator, inspired course architect—the late Tom Weiskopf lived a colorful life. It’s only fitting that his final layout radiates that vibrancy.

Situated in southern Utah’s Greater Zion region, just northwest of St. George and Santa Clara in Ivins, Black Desert Golf Club unfurls over 7,200 yards. Its emerald fairways, auburn outcroppings, white-sand bunkers and ink-black lava beds form a multihued mosaic against the cobalt sky and vermilion cliffs.

Weiskopf with architect Phil Smith. Courtesy of Phil Smith

“It’s a combination of Sedona and Kona—the best of both worlds,” Weiskopf’s co-designer Phil Smith says, referring to settings where the pair has left its mark.

“We agreed this was one of the best raw sites we’d ever had—a unique opportunity that required the best of our skills to pull off,” Smith says. “We were able to work together during the planning, routing and strategy phases. My goal was to design the course in his vision.”

Black Desert Golf Club. Courtesy Phil Smith

The construction began as Weiskopf entered a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer he would lose this August. “He was only able to visit the project a couple of times,” Smith remembers. “I was there weekly and kept him up-to-date on all the progress.”

Black Desert boasts very wide fairways, deceptive elevation changes and well-protected greens. Weiskopf’s trademark short par 4s appear on holes 5 and 14, which both tip at 316 yards, but some 500-yard two-shotters wait on 4 and 11.

You can’t play any of these holes until next spring, however. But you can take advantage of “preview rounds” consisting of holes 1-3, 8-10 and 16-18. The $75 experience is limited to 10 tee times per day. ([email protected]; 435-252-9736)

The Troon-managed course will be one of many amenities at the 602-acre, 2,500-home resort community anchored by a 150-room hotel, 300 rental residences, five restaurants and a retail-lined Desert Boardwalk. Black Desert visitors can follow trails through chaparral, lava tubes, Snow Canyon and Zion National Park.

Until the hotel opens, you can stay and play at the Red Mountain Inn across the parkway from the course. Black Desert’s developers recently purchased the inn and plan to have a tunnel connecting the properties. For fun, the “play” side of the tunnel also boasts a 68,000-square-foot, 36-hole, LED-illuminated putting course and a par-3 19th hole tucked into the lava.

“We all wanted to do the best possible job to continue to secure Tom’s legacy of golf course design,” he says.

For more information, visit www.blackdesertresort.com/golf.

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