Activities: Valley View golf course

Valley View is one golf course that has almost as many awards as Tiger Woods — and for good reason. Simply put, this course in Layton’s foothills is absolutely gorgeous. From the moment golfers step onto the first tee box, they begin to understand why Golf Digest thinks so highly of this little slice of Elysium in northern Utah.

But unless someone in heaven has a good sense of humor, it’s likely that paradise doesn’t have anything half as frustrating or difficult as Valley View.

The Catch-22 of having a course adorned with beautiful poplar trees, ponds, streams and white fluffy sand traps, is that while those things are nice to look at, more often than not, you’re eventually going to have shots affected by them as well.

That shouldn’t be taken as a knock, though.

Valley View is a top-tier golf course. It’s like playing at a country club, except you don’t have showers and fancy cologne to spritz all over yourself when you’re done with your round. There is a good reason this course is favored as one of the best, if not the best, public golf courses in Utah.

In fact, readers of The Salt Lake Tribune affirmed this fact in 1999 by voting it the No. 1 public course in the state.

Golf Digest has also been very high on Valley View for years. Among the awards bestowed upon Valley View have been a No. 4 ranking in terms of public access in 1994 and 2002, and a ranking on the top 25 Super Value list in 1994 and 2000. These aren’t just state rankings either. These are in terms of the entire nation.

What makes Valley View great isn’t hard to put one’s finger on, either. Despite not being as well kept in 2007 as it has been in previous years, the conditions of the fairways and the greens are about as immaculate as a public golf course gets. The course has six different pin-placement layouts that rotate almost every day. The scorecard details each of these pin placements, which allows golfers to accurately assess exactly where approach shots should be played.

Valley View is also brilliantly laid out along the mountainside. Each hole seems as if it has naturally been there for hundreds of years. Adding to the natural hazards and tree-lined fairways are roughs that are as thick as Tom Sellick’s chest hair, even when freshly mowed. A fair amount of the holes also play to an elevated green, which add to the seemingly benign yardage on most of the holes.

There is also a fair share of out-of-bounds territory — namely to the right of the No. 3 tee box, which pinches golfers to the point that perfect shots are a must.

Valley View’s greens run surprisingly true for being a mountain course, but this consolation only slightly tames the well-guarded putting surfaces. Most of the greens at Valley View are either tiered or have so many fingers that hiding a pin behind a sand trap is as easy as it is to get seduced into wrapping your Big Bertha around the nearest pine tree.

If one can keep in mind that playing Valley View is one of the best golfing challenges in Utah, enjoying the occasional par or birdie along with the awesome scenery is just part of the experience.

The par-4 No. 1 at Valley View is as picturesque as it is difficult. It also sets the tone for the rest of one’s round at this mountain-style golf course in Layton.