Golf is the other green of Vegas

By Bill BowmanOctober 13, 2009, 7:32 pm
LAS VEGAS – After hours and hours at the tables, it's time to hit the other green velvet in Vegas-the lush fairways of some of the best golf courses in the world.

After all, this is Vegas. Would you expect anything less than top-notch golf course design? We didn't think so.

Located right on the Strip are two beautiful layouts, Bali Hai and Wynn. And just a short limo ride away are the stunning layouts of Shadow Creek and Cascata.

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Shadow Creek is about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, but it's a world away from any desert course you've ever played.
'Playing one of these premier courses will simply extend your 4-star treatment from the resort to the golf course,' says John DeMarco, Director-Travel Tourism for

But before you put down those dice, or throw that 10-deuce off-suit into the muck and head to the course, talk with the dealers working the tables. Many of these guys really know their stuff when it comes to golf. They spend their off-hours on the golf course with their buddies and are in-the-know when it comes to where to play. Or at least where they get the best bang for their buck. They'll be the first to tell you the course they played that morning is great (or they will also warn you to stay away if they didn't have a good experience). They also know and look for deals themselves.

And talk with the casino hosts. If the resort does work with a golf course, and you've spent some time (and money) at the tables, you just may get a better deal on the golf than you thought possible.

Oh, and if you do have a great time, don't forget to tell that dealer thanks that night with a little tip of your own.

So after you cash out, it's time to cash in on some great golf. Grab your phone and make the call to set up your perfect tee time.

It's Casino Month in the Courses & Travel section, where we'll uncover the best casino/golf experiences from around the U.S.

- Verona, N.Y.
- Las Vegas
- Biloxi, Miss.
Bali Hai Golf Club

Located on the south end of the Strip, this Brian Curley/Lee Schmidt design is a breathtaking trip to the tropics, complete with stands of towering palms, brilliant white-sand bunkers, more than 100,000 tropical plants, deep-blue water features and an island green. The bright-green fairways are offset beautifully by volcanic rock outcroppings.

The par-71 design stretches out to 7,002 yards from the tips and gives players impressive golf and Strip views.

The island-green 16th plays back toward the clubhouse and players will often find an audience on the patio of Cili Restaurant (another great reason to stop at Bali Hai).

The 17th and 18th holes are two of Vegas' finest. Both par 4s play more than 480 yards and will test even the biggest hitters in your group. The second shot into No. 18 will stimulate the senses as well as challenge the club selection. A large bunker guards the front-right of the green and meets up with a shimmering pond giving players a beach-type view.

Wynn Golf Club

On the opposite end of the Strip is Wynn, a 7,042-yard, par-70 masterpiece designed by Tom Fazio (with plenty of input from Steve Wynn). The former site of the Desert Inn Golf Club (which played host to the PGA Tour for many years), this revamped course is brilliant from start to finish. After all, Wynn knows no boundaries when it comes to golf course design having put his early touches on another Fazio masterpiece - Shadow Creek.

At Wynn, players will meander through 50-year-old trees giving the course a feeling of solitude. And all of that is just a few feet away from their room or suite.

On the course, players will tackle awe-inspiring creations from the first to the 18th hole. And what an 18th hole it is. The finale is a picture-postcard design. From the tee, players take aim at a wide, inviting fairway with a stream flowing on the left. In the distance is the green with an inviting waterfall splashing behind.

But, look closer. You'll also see more of the famed Vegas skyline and the monstrous Stratosphere Tower in the background.

The views - and the golf - are priceless.

Shadow Creek

Okay, it's not on the Strip. It's a 15-minute limo ride to the course. That's right, limo ride. See, you can't play Shadow Creek unless you're a guest of an MGM property. Your course fee to play also includes the limo ride to and from the course and a caddie. It's an impressive way to get to an impressive course.

This is another Tom Fazio design and this one has everything that makes for a world-class course. And more.

From the moment you step out of the limo, you're treated like royalty. Your clubs and shoes are whisked away to the locker room. You'll have the chance to warm up on a secluded practice area (each of the hitting areas is isolated between rows of trees).

On the course, the revamped Shadow Creek has been expanded and can stretch to 7,560 yards. Each hole is an entity unto itself and you'll be hard pressed to see any other golfers while you're playing.

Thousands of trees, beautiful streams, perfect fairways and greens and breathtaking views from tees to greens await players on each and every hole.

While there could be 18 signature holes on this course, the finishing two will definitely stand out while players have their post-round meal or drink.

The 17th is a 164-yard par-3 with a postage stamp-sized green. The elevated tee gives players a great view but a pond in front of the green and a waterfall behind can certainly be distracting. The view and challenge of this hole alone are almost worth the price of admission.

The finale, a 527-yard, par-5 is as devilish as it is challenging. Only the biggest of hitters can get home in two so mortals need to play it smart off the tee. With water all the way down the right side in the form of three ponds fed by waterfalls, keeping the tee shot and second shots left is a must setting up a wedge to a narrow green that is guarded by rolling hills, trees and flowers. Needless to say, pin-point accuracy is a must.


Rees Jones' design is a little longer ride from the Strip than Shadow Creek, about 25 minutes, but it's still more than worth the price of admission.

The gates at Cascata swing open as players arrive at the course to reveal a golf destination that will impress and amaze.

Cascata, a Harrah's property, is located in southeast Vegas. The par-72 layout reaches 7,217 yards from the tips. But it's not just the course that is top-notch. It's the views and the service that helps put this experience over the top.

Players head downstairs where their clubs and caddy await. Once seated in carts, the doors to Cascata swing open (just like a ride at Disneyland) and golfers are hit with stunning views of the course - an adult version of Disneyland.

On the range, players will see a huge waterfall cascading from the mountain high above. The water flows down the mountainside and through the clubhouse-that's right, through the clubhouse. Ahead lays 18 holes that take players on a roller coaster ride up, around and down the mountainside.

Picking two of the more scenic holes is almost impossible. But the 14th  a par-4 with amazing views and a glass-like pond fronting a narrow green, and a zig-zagging par-5 18th which plays around a mountain with a stream and pond also coming into play, will do nicely.
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Rahm, with blinders on, within reach of No. 1 at Torrey

By Rex HoggardJanuary 23, 2018, 10:10 pm

SAN DIEGO – The drive over to Torrey Pines from Palm Springs, Calif., takes about two and a half hours, which was plenty of time for Jon Rahm’s new and ever-evolving reality to sink in.

The Spaniard arrived in Southern California for a week full of firsts. The Farmers Insurance Open will mark the first time he’s defended a title on the PGA Tour following his dramatic breakthrough victory last year, and it will also be his first tournament as the game’s second-best player, at least according to the Official World Golf Ranking.

Rahm’s victory last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his second on Tour and fourth worldwide tilt over the last 12 months, propelled the 23-year-old to No. 2 in the world, just behind Dustin Johnson. His overtime triumph also moved him to within four rounds of unseating DJ atop the global pecking order.

It’s impressive for a player who at this point last year was embarking on his first full season as a professional, but then Rahm has a fool-proof plan to keep from getting mired in the accolades of his accomplishments.

“It's kind of hard to process it, to be honest, because I live my day-to-day life with my girlfriend and my team around me and they don't change their behavior based on what I do, right?” he said on Tuesday at Torrey Pines. “They'll never change what they think of me. So I really don't know the magnitude of what I do until I go outside of my comfort zone.”

Head down and happy has worked perfectly for Rahm, who has finished outside the top 10 in just three of his last 10 starts and began 2018 with a runner-up showing at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and last week’s victory.

According to the world ranking math, Rahm is 1.35 average ranking points behind Johnson and can overtake DJ atop the pack with a victory this week at the Farmers Insurance Open; but to hear his take on his ascension one would imagine a much wider margin.

“I've said many times, beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task,” Rahm said. “We all know what happened last time he was close to a lead in a tournament on the PGA Tour.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Rahm certainly remembers. It was just three weeks ago in Maui when he birdied three of his first six holes, played the weekend at Kapalua in 11 under and still finished eight strokes behind Johnson.

And last year at the WGC-Mexico Championship when Rahm closed his week with rounds of 67-68 only to finish two strokes off Johnson’s winning pace, or a few weeks later at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play when he took Johnson the distance in the championship match only to drop a 1-up decision to the game’s undisputed heavyweight.

As far as Rahm has come in an incredibly short time - at this point last year he ranked 137th in the world - it is interesting that it’s been Johnson who has had an answer at every turn.

He knows there’s still so much room for improvement, both physically and mentally, and no one would ever say Rahm is wanting for confidence, but after so many high-profile run-ins with Johnson, his cautious optimism is perfectly understandable.

“I'll try to focus more on what's going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win,” he reasoned when asked about the prospect of unseating Johnson, who isn’t playing this week. “I'll try my best, that's for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

If Rahm’s take seems a tad cliché given the circumstances, consider that his aversion to looking beyond the blinders is baked into the competitive cake. For all of his physical advantages, of which there are many, it’s his keen ability to produce something special on command that may be even more impressive.

Last year at Torrey Pines was a quintessential example of this, when he began the final round three strokes off the lead only to close his day with a back-nine 30 that included a pair of eagles.

“I have the confidence that I can win here, whereas last year I knew I could but I still had to do it,” he said. “I hope I don't have to shoot 30 on the back nine to win again.”

Some will point to Rahm’s 60-footer for eagle at the 72nd hole last year as a turning point in his young career, it was even named the best putt on Tour by one publication despite the fact he won by three strokes. But Rahm will tell you that walk-off wasn’t even the best shot he hit during the final round.

Instead, he explained that the best shot of the week, the best shot of the year, came on the 13th hole when he launched a 4-iron from a bunker to 18 feet for eagle, a putt that he also made.

“If I don't put that ball on the green, which is actually a lot harder than making that putt, the back nine charge would have never happened and this year might have never happened, so that shot is the one that made everything possible,” he explained.

Rahm’s ability to embrace and execute during those moments is what makes him special and why he’s suddenly found himself as the most likely contender to Johnson’s throne even if he chooses not to spend much time thinking about it.

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Rahm focusing on play, not shot at No. 1

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 9:06 pm

SAN DIEGO – Jon Rahm’s meteoric rise in the world rankings could end with him reaching No. 1 with a win this week at Torrey Pines.

After winning last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, his fourth title in 51 weeks, Rahm has closed the gap on Dustin Johnson – less than 1.5 average points separates them.

With Johnson not playing this week, the 23-year-old Spaniard has a chance to reach the top spot for the first time, but only if he defends his title at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

“Beating Dustin Johnson is a really, really hard task. It’s no easy task,” he said Tuesday. “We still have four days of golf ahead and we’ll see what happens. But I’ll try to focus more on what’s going on this week rather than what comes with it if I win.

“I’ll try my best, that’s for sure. Hopefully it happens, but we all know how hard it is to win on Tour.”

Rahm has already become the fourth-youngest player to reach No. 2 in the world, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. 

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Rahm: Playoff wasn't friendly, just 'nervous'

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:53 pm

SAN DIEGO – Too chummy? Jon Rahm says he and Andrew Landry were just expending some nervous energy on the walk up to the fairway during the first playoff hole of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

“I wouldn’t have been that nervous if it was friendly,” Rahm said with a smile Tuesday. “I think it was something he said because we were talking going out of the first tee.

“I didn’t know Andrew – I think it was a pretty good time to get to know him. We had at least 10 minutes to ourselves. It’s not like we were supporting each other, right? We were both in it together, we were both nervous together, and I felt like talking about it might have eased the tension out of both of us.”

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

On Sunday, two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange saw the exchange on TV and tweeted: “Walking off the tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me? Talking at all?”

Strange followed up by saying that, in a head-to-head situation, the last thing he’d want to do was make his opponent comfortable. When his comments went viral, Strange tweeted at Rahm, who won after four holes: “Hopefully no offense taken on my comment yesterday. You guys are terrific. I’m a huge fan of all players today. Made an adverse comment on U guys talking during playoff. Not for me. A fan.”

Not surprisingly, the gregarious Rahm saw things differently.

“We only talked going out of the first tee up until the fairway,” he said. “Besides that, all we said was, ‘Good shot, good putt, see you on the next tee.’ That’s what it was reduced to. We didn’t say much.” 

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Tiger grouped with Reed, Hoffman at Torrey Pines

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 8:35 pm

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods will make his 2018 debut alongside Patrick Reed and Charley Hoffman.

The threesome will go off Torrey Pines’ South Course at 1:40 p.m. ET Thursday at the Farmers Insurance Open. They begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the North Course.

Woods is an eight-time winner at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, but he hasn’t broken 70 in his last seven rounds on either course. Last year, he shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut.

Farmers Insurance Open: Articles, photos and videos

Reed, who has grown close to Woods after being in his pod during the past two international team competitions, is coming off a missed cut last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Hoffman, a San Diego native, has only two top-10s in 20 career starts at Torrey.

Other featured groups for the first two rounds include:

• Jon Rahm, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker: 1:30 p.m. Thursday off South 1, 12:20 p.m. Friday off North 10

• Rickie Fowler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele: 12:30 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:30 p.m. Friday off South 1

• Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama: 12:40 p.m. Thursday off North 10, 1:40 p.m. Friday off South 1