An introduction to Las Vegas

I mean seriously, is there any point doing an introduction for Las Vegas?! 

Sin City, the Gambling Capital of the World, the City of Lights, the Marriage Capital of the World…or more humorously the Lost Wages Capital.

However you know Vegas, it is a city which is loathed as much as it is loved. The nightlife, the gambling, the mega hotels, the fine-dining, the excess of everything. But amongst all of this are some iconic golf courses designed by some of the best in the business.

See also: What are the best public golf courses in Las Vegas?

It was after World War II when the construction of lavish hotels and casinos became more prevalent, a feature for which the city is synonymous today. Yet over the decades, Vegas grew in exponentially in size. Both in population but also the sheer size of the hotels and casinos.

Being in the Mojave Desert, the weather gets hot, officially called a subtropical hot desert climate. But in short what this means is there are long and hot summers with short winters. This is no doubt one of the reasons buggies are obligated at most golf courses.

In regards to golf courses, there really are some fantastic options. There are some great golf courses in Mesquite, just up the road from Las Vegas. But in this post, let’s have a look at some of the best golf courses in Las Vegas.

See also: What are the best golf courses in Mesquite?

The best golf courses in Las Vegas

Coyote Springs Golf Club

Photo credit Steve Racine

One of the best public golf courses in the US. Coyote Springs has over the years earned plenty of praise and acclaim. All the major golf publications including Golf Digest and Golf Magazine & Golf Week have lauded Coyote Springs.

It’s fair to say though, it’s in the tail end of nowhere! Around 45 minutes drive north of Las Vegas, and approximately an hour’s drive from Mesquite. The course is literally surrounded by miles and miles of barren desert. 

But don’t let the isolated location deter from what is one of the best golf courses in Las Vegas. This is a Jack Nicklaus signature course that opened for play in 2008. It was scheduled to be one of many Nicklaus courses planned to run through the Coyote Springs area. Yet those plans have been on hold since the 2008 recession. 

The routing is stunning. And despite its relative young age, many consider this to be one of Jack’s best desert creations. From the back tees the course stretches to nearly 7,500 yards. So tee selection is critical to avoid a long day.

There are eleven lakes dotted throughout. Instead of swathes of rough lining each fairway, there are sandy run-offs and a multitude of hazards. Some of these hazards are genuinely tricky to get out of. 

Shadow Creek Golf Club

Photo taken by JAB

Words can’t quite begin to describe how special Shadow Creek is, yet at the same time how surreal it is. We’re talking about one of the finest parkland courses in an oasis of greenery, literally in the Vegas desert. It couldn’t be more surreal.

When playing the course, you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere entirely different, but this is 100% Vegas. The course opened for play in 1989 and was the vision of Steve Wynn. The hotel and casino guru, wanted to build a top-class golf course as a magnet for his Vegas properties. 

Tom Fazio was the man he chose to realise his ambition and Shadow Creek is without doubt one of his most stunning creations. Every hole is a masterpiece in golf design. There are pine forests, exotic flowers, creeks, waterfalls, lakes, you name it. 

Fazio literally had ‘carte blanche’ to create the most amazing golf course he could think of. The green fee is circa $500! But for one of the top courses in the US, and arguably the best golf course in Las Vegas, I would argue it’s a good gamble!

The Summit Club

The only private residential ‘lifestyle club’ in Las Vegas, the Summit Club is a special place. It has a whole host of amenities for its members. It is located between the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the Las Vegas Strip. 

The club sits on a huge 555-acre plot of desert land. Yet again it was Tom Fazio who was called upon to devise the routing of the championship course. It’s certainly less of a classic desert style course, quite the opposite in fact. This is a wonderful parkland course in a desert setting.

There are some outstanding views over to the Vegas Strip, just ten miles away. Yet turn the other way and you have sensational views of the mountain backdrop.

As you would expect with Fazio, each hole is complicated and makes you really consider how to approach your shot. Fortunately though, there are five sets of tees, so you can decide how difficult you want to make the course. This is a special place.

Las Vegas Country Club

Las Vegas Country Club, Nevada

Literally less than a minute from the Las Vegas Strip. Las Vegas Country Club has been around since the early days of Vegas, opening for play in 1967. Over the decades, the Vegas Strip has changed immensely, yet an ever-present has been the Las Vegas Country Club. 

It was designed by Ed Ault, maybe not the most recognised name in golf course architecture but a man considered a pioneer in his time. It’s also worth appreciating that Ault’s design firm was also responsible for completing over 200 course designs during his career.

In 1981 Ron Garl renovated Ault’s design, whilst in 2009 Mark Rathert modernised the course. But fundamentally, aside from a few more trees dotting the course, the layout we see today is Ault’s design from the late 60s.

For many years the PGA Tour played the Las Vegas Invitational here and the LPGA was also a regular visitor. 

There are really no elevation changes of note, this is ultimately flat land. Most undulations sit around the greens with fairways relatively generous. Water comes into play on a number of occasions, especially on the par 3s where it seems you’re constantly teeing off over water!

Wynn Las Vegas

Another golf course literally rubbing shoulders with the Strip, Wynn Golf Club is an awesome course. It is arguably one of the best manicured courses in Vegas and is open to residents of the Wynn Las Vegas hotel next door.

Although a golf course has been in this spot since the 1950s, the layout we have today wasn’t built until the early 2000s. Hotel owner and casino magnate Steve Wynn called upon Tom Fazio and gave him a simple brief. Completely demolish the existing Desert Inn course to build Wynn Las Vegas.

The Fazio creation, a 7,000 yard plus par 72, opened in 2005. But yet again in 2017, the course was closed to be completely remodeled. This time by Fazio and his son Logan. Their creation opened years later nearly 300 yards shorter and now a par 70.

This really is a sanctuary of peace so close to the hustle and vibe of the Strip. Expect to pay a green fee close to $500-600, but the experience is worth it. 

SouthShore Golf Club

This is Jack Nicklaus’ first private signature golf course in Nevada and boy is it a good one! 

The club is a good half hour’s drive from the Las Vegas Strip, in an idyllic spot overlooking Lake Las Vegas. This really is a wonderful haven of peace, with a backdrop of mountains and relatively discrete housing lining the fairways.

SouthShore’s golf course has been recognised time and time again by all the major golf publications and websites as being one of the finest in not just Las Vegas, but Nevada. 

The course makes perfect use of the landscape, maximising views and natural features. From the back tees the course measures just short of 7,000 yards, and in typical Nicklaus fashion, you can be assured this is challenging. 

The fairways are relatively generous, but strategically placed bunkers lie in wait. There are forced carries over canyons and water and the greens are rapid, with subtle undulations that are difficult to pick up on. 

All in all, a wonderful course in a fabulous location. 

DragonRidge Golf Club

DragonRidge-Golf-Club, Las Vegas, Nevada

This fantastic golf course sits to the south of Las Vegas in the slightly elevated terrain of McCullough Mountains. As such there are wonderful views back towards the city skyline as well as the Black Mountain Regional Park in the other direction.

DragonRidge is a member’s club with some fantastic facilities onsite, including a wonderful clubhouse which overlooks the 170 acres of rolling hills. 

From the back tees the course stretches to just shy of 7,000 yards and was designed by the design duo of Jay Morrish and David Druzisky. The site has naturally undulating topography which makes for some wonderful yet challenging holes. 

The fairways are wide so this is definitely a ‘pull the driver’ out course. This also improves playability, with stray shots generally found except maybe on holes 6 to 8 where water comes into play. There are also some pretty demanding carries, another good reason to pull the big dog out. 

Southern Highlands Golf Club

Photo credit Matthew Gulbransen

A damn special golf course to the south of the Vegas Strip, this is without doubt one of the finest golf courses in Las Vegas, and arguably Nevada. 

It is also one of the most private, with the course operating a strict members and member’s guests policy. With just 320 members, playing here could be a tad tricky. 

That said, the course is superb and one of the toughest in the Vegas area. There are Carolina pines lining a number of fairways, reminiscent of some of the finest courses in North Carolina. Housing does surround the course, but you’re talking about mansions, not your everyday residential housing, so this is as much a feature of playing here. 

The greens are incredibly rapid, the rough is thick and penal and the numerous sprawling hazards are strategically placed to wreck your scorecard. The conditioning is first-class, as is the service and all-round facilities.

Cascata Golf Club

The centrepiece of Cascata golf club is a huge 418-foot waterfall which cascades down the mountainside flanking the course. Apt considering the word cascata means waterfall in Italian. And all this is overlooked by a grand Tuscan inspired clubhouse, through which the waterfall continues its route..mind-blowing stuff! 

Cascata is a top class golf course and for any golfer wanting an unforgettable experience, it is well worth the 30-mile drive from Las Vegas downtown. The attention to detail here is second to none although be prepared to pay a sizeable green fee for the privilege. 

The course is hidden away up in Bootleg Canyon, which is on the road to Boulder City and a little further on, to the Hoover Dam. 

This is a desert course at its finest, and designed by one of the greatest golf course architects of recent times, Rees Jones. Clearly there is architectural precedent in the family, but Rees Jones has done an exceptional job here at Cascata. 

The course is routed on a pretty barren hillside and many of the holes are either climbing up or running down, with few running sideways cutting along the hillside. This makes shot-making central to how you tackle the course. 

Reflection Bay Golf

Literally over the lake from the superb SouthShore Golf Club, Reflection Bay is another Jack Nicklaus signature design. The 320 acre man-made lake is the perfect backdrop to the course and feels a million miles from Vegas downtown.

The course opened for play in 1998 and stretches across a large expanse of land surrounded by luxury property. Unlike SouthShore, Reflection Bay is open to the public and is great value for money.

The course runs up into the higher ground with some really interesting and challenging holes. But it is the handful of holes which run alongside the water which are really fun to play. Any wayward shots and you’ll be reloading!

Reflection Bay has received a whole host of awards and accolades as being one of the best golf courses you can play. From 1998 to 2007, it was also the host venue to the Wendy’s 3Tour Challenge, with some of the best in the game gracing the fairways here.

What is the best golf course in Las Vegas?

The best golf course in Las Vegas is Shadow Creek Golf Club, designed by the emblematic Tom Fazio. Just 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Trip, it opened in 1989 and was the brainchild of the casino magnate Steve Wynn.

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