Escape from Las Vegas: Golf courses that go beyond the desert

By Travel ArticlesDecember 17, 2012, 5:00 am

LAS VEGAS -- Everyone knows Las Vegas plays by a different set of rules, and so do its golf courses. But when you think of Las Vegas golf, what usually comes to mind?

For most, it's some sort of desert golf, overseeded in the fall, winter and spring.

But not all Las Vegas golf courses are created the same, and some of them are very unique. Just because you're playing golf in Las Vegas doesn't mean you have to stay in Las Vegas -- in a manner of speaking.

Courses like Royal Links, Desert Pines, Bali Hai and Wynn Golf Club all have holes you might see in other parts of the country -- or the world, for that matter.

Here's a look ...

Royal Links Golf Club

The first thing you notice about Royal Links Golf Club is the castle-style clubhouse. There are Scottish kilts and ales and whisky and bagpipes. And when the temperature is down in the winter, you really feel like you're across the pond. Better yet, this Dye Design has 18 holes inspired by the British Open courses, so you get to hit the kinds of shots you'd hit on links courses in Great Britain, especially when the wind is blowing.

Golfers at Royal Links can experience the Road Hole of St. Andrews, the Postage Stamp of Royal Troon and holes from Carnoustie, Turnberry, Royal Liverpool, Prestwick, Royal Lytham, Muirfield and Royal Birkdale. Take a caddie, or better yet, a gorgeous female Parmate, and you've really got a unique experience.

Bali Hai Golf Club

In one respect, Bali Hai Golf Club couldn't be more Las Vegas, especially when you consider its location right on the Strip.

But the course itself is anything but. This tropical-themed course designed by Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt features impeccable conditions, thousands of palm trees, tropical plants, water features and beautiful crystal white bunkers. Mandalay Bay looms in the background, but inside the fences, Bali Hai is nothing but lush, tropical conditions. Add a caddie, and you've really got a unique experience.

Bear's Best Las Vegas

If you're a fan of Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses, then Bear's Best Las Vegas is a can't-miss experience. Nicklaus chose holes from courses like Desert Mountain in Arizona, Castle Pines in Colorado, Palmilla Golf Club in Los Cabos, Mexico, and PGA West in Palm Springs, Calif., to name a few.

Even more compelling, however, is the impeccable conditioning and backdrop of the Red Rock Mountains, offering one great view after another. One of the more unique aspects of the course is that a different kind of sand -- black sand -- is used in the bunkers the two holes from Old Works Golf Club in Montana for accuracy.

Wynn Golf Club

Like Bali Hai, Wynn Golf Club is located right on the Strip, but it's more secluded. Located behind Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas, it's a pampered golf experience like none other. It comes with a premium price, of course, but what follows is an almost Augusta-like experience in terms of conditioning and solitude. Perfect bentgrass greens, white sand bunkers and a network of pristine streams, ponds and flora create one memorable view after another.

The golf course was designed by Las Vegas business magnate Steve Wynn and Tom Fazio, (they also created Las Vegas' Shadow Creek Golf Club, which Wynn eventually sold), and it sits on the old site of the Desert Inn, which played host to 50 years of PGA and LPGA Tour events. The course also includes 7,200 trees and 100,000 bushes and waterfalls, including one that's 37 feet tall behind the 18th green.

Desert Pines Golf Club

With thousands of imported Carolina Pines, wall to wall grass, plenty of water and slick bentgrass greens, Desert Pines Golf Club is hardly a typical Las Vegas golf course. The idea was to create a feeling of playing in the Carolina Sandhills. And while that might be tough to accomplish, it certainly doesn't feel like desert golf.

The course is tight, somewhat demanding, but also presents several opportunities with drivable par 4s. Best of all, Desert Pines is a great place to hang out, either to watch a game in the clubhouse or get a little practice at the lighted double-decker range that's open after hours.

Angel Park's Cloud Nine

There are two championship courses at Angel Park, but the most unique layout is the par-3 course that's not only lighted, but also pays tribute to many of the great par 3s around the world. Cloud Nine actually has 12 holes, but nine of them are lighted. That means you can play 12 during the day and nine at night. There's an island green, ala TPC Sawgrass, a Postage Stamp hole reminiscent of Royal Troon in Scotland, and a green with a bunker in the middle of it, similar to Riviera Country Club. As a bonus, there's also a terrific nine-hole putting course, which is also lighted.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

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Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'

President at the Presidents Cup

Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump

Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73

Cart on the green

Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green

Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open

Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National

Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open

Trump golf properties


Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers

Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover

Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up

Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm