In 17 years of specializing in golf and resort-style real estate, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many of the finest private clubs and resort communities in the world. From the exclusive Ke’olu Course at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island of Hawaii to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach to Tavistock Group’s ultra-private Isleworth and Lake Nona golf and country clubs in Orlando, my global travels have given me unique insights and access to the best of master-planned golf and resort development.
In some cases, even my family has been treated to the taste of the quintessential life. Case in point was a memorable trip to Park City last summer where I visited one of the world’s top family-friendly private club communities: Promontory (read more below).
Promontory, Park City, Utah
As a host site for the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City solidified its place as one of the world’s great winter playgrounds, a fact avid skiers had known for decades. Now, this fabulous leisure destination is getting a lot of attention for its private golf and country club living.
The biggest statement, at least in sheer size, is being made at Promontory, a high-end private 6,500-acre recreational second-home community that features the only Pete Dye-designed course in Utah and a second Jack Nicklaus Signature Course called Painted Valley.
Located minutes from the quaint town of Park City, Dye’s Canyon Course opened in 2002 and the Nicklaus course opened four years later. Sitting approximately 7,000 feet above sea level, the Canyon Course meanders through sagebrush hillsides and offers wonderful vistas of Park City and Deer Valley.
Overall, the Promontory plan calls for more than 1,600 mostly second-home residences and more than 350 multi-million homes are already built. Besides championship golf, Promontory members have a plateful of amenities that rivals the finest anywhere, including one of the coolest clubhouses for kids and those who are still kids at heart, The Shed (see photo).
The Shed Clubhouse and Café features delightful food and full bar, not to mention a bowling alley, basketball court and other gaming attractions. For the more refined setting, Promontory also features a world-class Ranch Clubhouse and Spa, the Dye Clubhouse, Outfitters Cabin and Equestrian Center.
What’s also important to point out is Promontory couldn’t be stronger financially after emerging from bankruptcy court nearly six years ago under the same ownership of the original developer, Francis Najafi, chief executive of Phoenix-based Pivotal Group. Case in point are dozens of new homes and custom lots that have been sold in the past year and numerous new homes in construction throughout the double-gated community.
Another sign of growth is the new clubhouse and fine restaurant under construction at the top-rated Painted Valley Nicklaus Course (see photo). Construction began last spring and Promontory anticipates a grand opening for the 2015 golf season. Designed by esteemed Swaback Partners of Scottsdale, Ariz., the clubhouse will combine luxurious golf and dining facilities with an unparalleled design experience and room for five courses, according to Rich Sonntag, managing director of the development.
Sonntag, who had a hand in developing such signature golf communities as Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, likens the Park City phenomenon to Squaw Valley’s early years
“(Squaw Valley) used to be this sleepy little mountain nobody could get to,” Sonntag says. “Then it opened up for the Olympics and the next 20 years it just took off. … The same thing is happening here thanks to a wonderful transportation system between Salt Lake City and Park City.
“At Promontory, we like to think we have something for every member of your three-generation family here. And the serious golf guy considers this a serious golf course.”
Sonntag is excited about the architecture of the newest 17,000-square-foot clubhouse. He said the building’s architects are proficient in incorporating the principles of organic architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin School of Architecture.
“This clubhouse will complement the site because it doesn’t dominate the topography, it rises up out of it,” Sonntag said. “It will take advantage to the fullest extent of the vistas looking both south and west across the back nine of the Nicklaus course.”
Architect John Sather, who did much of the original land planning for Promontory, said the goal was not to create something large, but rather a clubhouse of great quality and special design. The clubhouse incorporates glass, contemporary-cut stone and steel and is informed by the work of sculptor Alexander Calder.
"As we've explored architecture at Promontory, we think it’s time to begin to weave in contemporary expressions of mountain architecture," Sather said. "Golf clubs are often noted as a big white house on the hill with bad food. We wanted to match the quality of the golf course with the architecture."