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And Finally...

Hitting the Links, 61 Years Ago

Golfers Ben Hogan (left) and Jimmy Thompson at the U of U golf course, August 26, 1948.
Ben Hogan and Jimmy Thompson on the U of U golf course
Photo courtesy Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

The idea for a golf course at the University of Utah was first raised during World War I, but America’s entry into the war in 1917 delayed the plans. Land was obtained and the course laid out in 1919. It was a challenging and beautiful 18-hole course, but it belonged to the Fort Douglas Golf Club. During the 1940s and 1950s, several PGA events were held there, with such famous golfers as Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, and Ben Hogan. Bob Hope played at the Fort Douglas course for a war bond benefit in 1944, and famously quipped at the end of the round, “How could we have been walking uphill the whole way?” In 1948, the golf course was part of the land deeded to the University by the War Department. Students and faculty enjoyed the full 18 holes until 1961, when construction of Van Cott Hall and the Sill Home Living Center reduced it to a 9-hole course.

Expansion of other parts of the campus throughout the 1960s and 1970s, such as the University Medical Center and the Merrill Engineering Building, meant that more pieces were sliced off of the course. Another major cut came in 1989, when the Eccles Broadcast Center was built. Long considered a “land bank” for the University, the course was closed in early 2009 for construction of USTAR facilities, thus marking the end of an era.

—Roy Webb BA‘84 MS‘91, Multimedia Archivist, J. Willard Marriott Library

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