An introduction to Las Vegas
I mean seriously, is there any point doing an introduction for Las Vegas?! Well I’ll keep it short, but in this post we’re going to take a look at some of the best private golf courses near 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 private golf courses designed by some of the best in the business.
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.
The best private golf courses in Las Vegas
Shadow Creek Golf Club
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 here you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere entirely different. But this is 100% Vegas.
Shadow Creek opened for play in 1989 and was the vision of Steve Wynn, the hotel and casino guru. The idea was 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 one of the only bets you can count on! 😉
The Summit Club
The only private residential ‘lifestyle club’ in Las Vegas, the Summit Club is a special place with a whole host of amenities for its members.
The location is second-to-none, positioned 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 and once again, it was the legnedary 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.
Whilst playing, you’ll enjoy some outstanding views over to the Vegas Strip, which is just ten miles away. Yet turn the other way and you have sensational views of the distant mountains.
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
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 throughout that change, the Las Vegas Country Club has been a mainstay of consistency and continuity.
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. So much so, Ault’s design firm was responsible for completing over 200 course designs during his career.
In 1981 the highly respected Ron Garl renovated Ault’s design. Whilst in 2009, Mark Rathert was called upon to modernise 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!
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 and without doubt one of the finest private golf courses in Vegas.
DragonRidge Golf Club
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 world-class 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. With some pretty demanding carries, this is another good reason to pull the big dog out.
Southern Highlands Golf Club
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 gawking at the houses 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. Wow.
What is the best private golf course in Las Vegas?
The best private golf facility near Las Vegas is Shadow Creek Golf Club, designed by the emblematic Tom Fazio. Just twenty minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, it opened in 1989 and was the brainchild of the casino magnate Steve Wynn.