Las Vegas has long been known as an entertainment capital, one that offers everything from gaming to glitter and from glamour to glitzy.
In recent years golf has become a major attraction in the desert, a respite from the gaming tables and big name entertainment.
"Golf in Las Vegas is special," admits long-time PGA Tour pro and now Champions Tour member Jim Colbert. "You might think all the courses are alike, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is a little bit for everyone in Las Vegas."
Colbert, who makes his home in Las Vegas, should know. Before joining the Champions Tour his company successfully operated several courses in Las Vegas.
Whether one is looking for a fast respite from the outstanding big name entertainment and hotel attractions along Las Vegas Boulevard (also known as "The Strip") or a break from action at the gaming tables, there are challenges for every level of golfer in metropolitan Las Vegas.
PGA Tour pro Raymond Floyd teamed with architect Bobby Weed to design the Tournament Players Club at the Canyons, while world-renowned designer Pete Dye has built two wonderful courses at the Las Vegas Paiute Resort. On the outskirts of Las Vegas in Henderson is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Reflection Bay Golf Club and the compact yet tantalizing Desert Willow Golf Club. Steve Wynn teamed with Tom Fazio to design the pricey Shadow Creek.
Wonderful additions like Badlands, right down the street from Angel Park, make Vegas golf a treat. And the Divine Nine Calloway Course, an 1,800-yard par three test on the southern end of the Strip adjacent to McCarran Airport, is a great place for 90 minutes on the course with a Strip view.
Each of these layouts offer challenging golf in a superb setting throughout the year. There are many other opportunities to play outstanding golf in the area as well. Your concierge can help you set up a round and arrange for transportation.
Suppose you want to play where the pros play. No problem.
The TPC at the Canyons annually hosts the Senior PGA Tour's Las Vegas Senior Classic, won earlier this year by Larry Nelson. The challenging layout is carved through deep desert washes and ravines with numerous elevation changes and has as its centerpiece a canyon lake. With four sets of tees, players may select the challenge, which fits their game. The professional staff is outstanding, and its pro shop was named as one of the top 100 in the United States by Golf Shop Operations Magazine.
Want stay away from the tables and play golf all day?
Thirty-six holes of outstanding golf await one at the Las Vegas Paiute Resort, which features the Dye-designed Nu-Waiv Kaiv Course (Snow Mountain) and the Tav-ai-Kaiv Course (Sun Mountain). Each features four sets of immaculately manicured tees, strong bunkering, water hazards and Dye's trademark railroad tie hazards.
The Nu-Waiv Kaiv layout has no parallel holes, has ample fairways, seven ponds and lightening-fast greens. It's signature hole is the par three 16th, a 198-yard test which requires a precise tee shot over water to a small, well bunkered, green. As with numerous other Dye designs the Nu-Waiv Kaiv layout was named by "Golf Digest" as the eighth best course in the state.
The Tav-ai-Kaiv course has four lakes and undulating greens to test the best of player. The faint of heart may gasp when viewing the par three, 205-yard fourth hole for the first time. Water extends down the right side of the hole, and a two-tiered green tantalizes the best of putters.
Want spectacular views to go hand-in-hand with your golf experience?
Jack Nicklaus has set the Reflection Bay Golf Club in the foothills of the mountains, then added in spectacular views of crystal blue Lake Las Vegas. Many of the holes traverse through arroyos and canyons and force the place to play smart golf or risk making big numbers.
This design, which annually hosts the Wendy's Three Tour Challenge (players from the PGA, Senior PGA and LPGA tours) demands accuracy on golf holes made tougher by brisk desert breezes.
The par three 17th hole is special, featuring its green on a peninsula jutting into Lake Las Vegas.
Before and after your round you can partake of the club's outstanding practice facility or enjoy the amenities of its clubhouse.
Want to get away from the bright lights of Las Vegas for a day, and still play golf on a challenging layout?
Seventy five miles north of Las Vegas is an Oasis in the desert: the Oasis Resort Hotel and Casino and its two championship golf courses. Its Oasis Course was designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, while its Palms Course was designed by William Hull. Both courses offer the visiting golfer excellent golf.
The Oasis Course winds through a beautiful desert environment and has a wide assortment of hazards to make one's round a challenge. The course is regularly rated among the top-10 public courses in the state.
The Palms Course offers breathtaking views of the nearby Virgin Mountains. The back nine is desert golf at its finest, with holes featuring natural elevation changes as they wind through canyons. Approximately 300 yards longer from the tips than the Oasis Course, the Palms Course intersperses sand bunkers along with natural waste areas and water hazards and has a USGA course rating of a demanding 74.9.
To the south of Las Vegas in Laughlin is the Mojave Resort Golf Club. This Landmark Golf Company design has long been a favorite of visiting golfers, who love the ample-sized fairways. But don't let the wide fairways fool you into thinking the layout is a pushover, as the course features numerous bunkers along with a prevailing wind which causes havoc to mis-hit shots.
No question, whether you are a high roller or a high handicap, a golf course is a great place to spend some time in Sin City.