Best golf holes in Las Vegas
No. 18 at Bali Hai offers impressive views of the Strip. (Bali Hai)
LAS VEGAS – World-class golf architects have left their gorgeous marks all over Las Vegas, with stunning and beautiful golf layouts. But which individual golf holes truly stand out? Here's one look at some of the top holes, numbers 1-18. We've selected one of the best opening holes, one of the best No. 2 designs, one of the best third holes and so on. (Note: Each course was limited to no more than one hole).
No. 1: Bear's Best Las Vegas
An opening golf hole has to be special. It's got to get your engine revving and your juices flowing. That's why the first hole at Bear's Best Las Vegas is our No. 1 pick. At 413 yards, it's a good distance and with a deep-blue pond to the left and bunkers guarding an elevated green. This is a tremendous test for an opener.
No. 2: TPC Las Vegas
The second hole at TPC Las Vegas is a par 3 playing 196 yards from the tips. The shot is to an island green (with desert below the green rather than water) that even gave the pros trouble when the PGA Tour used to play here as part of their annual Sin City stop.
No. 3: Rhodes Ranch
Rhodes Ranch Golf Club gets the nod here with the Ted Robinson-designed, par-3 third hole a monster at 227 yards. Strategically placed water and bunkers are everywhere and it's as beautiful as it is treacherous.
No. 4: Black Mountain
At 380 yards the fourth hole on the Desert nine at Black Mountain Golf & Country Club isn't long, but a severe dogleg left with waste areas right and left, as well as large bunkers around the green make this a tough test.
No. 5: Tuscany Golf Club
The par-4 fifth hole at Tuscany Golf Club plays just 357 yards from the tips, but perfectly placed bunkers cut down the landing area in the fairway and more bunkers guard a tricky green. This is a hole that plays short, but also tough.
No. 6: Wynn Golf Club
The par-3 sixth at Wynn Golf Club is a 163-yard beauty. Brilliant foliage, a deep-blue pond fronting the green and impressive views of the Las Vegas Strip make for a stunning and challenging golf shot.
No. 7: Badlands Golf Club
The seventh hole on Badlands Golf Club's Desperado nine is intriguing and challenging. At 374 yards, the par 4 is short, but desert left adds to the challenge as does the wash that cuts dramatically in front of the green.
No. 8: Rio Secco Golf Club
The eighth hole at Rees Jones' Rio Secco Golf Club is a par 5 at 566 yards with desert outcroppings everywhere. Big hitters can go for it in two, but crossing the desert and finding the green with that second shot is no easy task.
No. 9: Siena Golf Club
At just 420 yards the ninth hole at Siena Golf Club isn't the longest ninth in Vegas, or the toughest, but it's a test to thread a tee shot between the bunker right and the huge pond on the left. Then there's the massive, tricky green to add to the degree of difficulty.
No. 10: Royal Links Golf Club
This is a great way to start the back nine, tackling the Road Hole from St. Andrews at Royal Links Golf Club, a par 4 that combines length and beauty. Complete with scoreboard, famed old wall and deep bunker in front of the green, this one's special. Royal Links lets players take on a piece of golf history without traveling across the pond.
No. 11: Revere Golf Club
'Longfellow' at Revere Golf Club's Lexington course gets the nod here. At 625 yards from the tips, this par 5 is a monster (hence the name) and it also requires a target-golf approach. Too far or too wide can bring the desert into play. This is a great risk/reward hole.
No. 12: Desert Pines Golf Club
The 12th hole at Desert Pines Golf Club, nicknamed 'The Narrows,' offers quite a challenge from the tee. Those world famous Dye railroad-tie bunkers are evident as you approach the green on this 425-yard par 4.
No. 13: The Legacy Golf Club
No. 13 at The Legacy Golf Club is one of the true risk/reward golf holes. At 292 yards from the blue tees, this par 4 is driveable, but a huge bunker short and desert wash to the left are significant risks. Eagle is possible – but is the gamble worth the risk?
No. 14: Cascata
Cascata is beautiful from start to finish, but nowhere is there more brilliance than on the 14th hole, a 434-yard, par 4. A stream cuts along the left side of the tee box and slices in front of the tee boxes to fill a lake that guards the front of the green. Beauty and challenge all rolled into one masterpiece of a golf hole.
No. 15: Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
Our 15th hole is an easy choice – and it's anything but an easy hole. Pete Dye's 15th at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Wolf Course is 182 yards of sheer terror. An island green is always a tough shot. Add in a little breeze and you've got your hands full.
No. 16: Primm Valley Golf Club
The 16th hole on the Lakes course at Primm Valley Golf Club is a great par 4 reaching 403 yards with water and bunkers providing stunning backdrops. You'll have to be at your best because the tee box is just steps away from the clubhouse. You'll have an audience, so hit it well.
No. 17: Shadow Creek
No tops-in-Vegas list is complete without a hole from famed Shadow Creek and we're partial to the 17th, a par 3 that plays just 163 yards from the tips. But the small green is surrounded by water, rocks and dense foliage. A great looking hole that's also a great test of golf.
No. 18: Bali Hai Golf Club
The closer at Bali Hai Golf Club is a dramatic and long par 4, coming in at just under 500 yards. It's intimidating, long and stunning, especially if you play it just before sunset as the Las Vegas Strip comes to life with bright lights. A great way to close the round is with a hole that really impresses players from tee to green, and this one does it in spades.
– by Bill Bowman, TravelGolf.com contributor
Top-ranked amateur Niemann one back at LAAC in Chile
Argentina’s Jaime Lopez Rivarola leads the Latin America Amateur Championship at 5 under par following a round of 3-under 68 Saturday in Chile.
The former Georgia Bulldog is now 36 holes from what would be a return trip to Augusta National but his first Masters.
"The truth is that I crossed off on my bucket list playing Augusta [National], because I happened to play there," Rivarola said. "I've played every year with my university. But playing in the Masters is a completely different thing. I have been to the Masters, and I've watched the players play during the practice rounds. But [competing would be] a completely different thing."
He is followed on the leaderboard by the three players who competed in the playoff that decided last year’s LAAC in Panama: Joaquin Niemann (-4), Toto Gana (-4), and Alvaro Ortiz (-3).
Chile’s Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who currently holds conditional status on the Web.com Tour and is poised to begin his career as a professional, unless of course he takes the title this week. After a disappointing 74 in Round 1, Niemann was 10 shots better in Round 2, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 7-under 64.
“Today, I had a completely different mentality, and that's usually what happens in my case," Niemann said. "When I shoot a bad round, the following day I have extra motivation. I realize and I feel that I have to play my best golf. The key to being a good golfer is to find those thoughts and to transfer them into good golf."
Niemann’s fellow Chilean and best friend Gana is the defending champion who missed the cut at the Masters last year and is now a freshman at Lynn University. His second-round 70 was a roller coaster, complete with six birdies, three eagles and a double.
Mexico’s Ortiz, the brother of three-time Web.com Tour winner Carlos, was 6 under for the week before three back-nine bogeys dropped him off the pace.
Two past champions, Matias Dominguez and Paul Chaplet, sit 5 over and 7 over, respectively.
The winner of the Latin America Amateur Championship earns an invite to this year’s Masters. He is also exempt into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open sectional qualifying, and Open Championship final qualifying.
McIlroy gets back on track
There’s only one way to view Rory McIlroy’s performance at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship:
He is well ahead of schedule.
Sure, McIlroy is probably disappointed that he couldn’t chase down Ross Fisher (and then Tommy Fleetwood) on the final day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. But against a recent backdrop of injuries and apathy, his tie for third was a resounding success. He reasserted himself, quickly, and emerged 100 percent healthy.
“Overall, I’m happy,” he said after finishing at 18-under 270, four back of Fleetwood. “I saw some really, really positive signs. My attitude, patience and comfort level were really good all week.”
To fully appreciate McIlroy’s auspicious 2018 debut, consider his state of disarray just four months ago. He was newly married. Nursing a rib injury. Breaking in new equipment. Testing another caddie. His only constant was change. “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place,” he said, “and that was because of where I was physically.”
And so he hit the reset button, taking the longest sabbatical of his career, a three-and-a-half-month break that was as much psychological as physical. He healed his body and met with a dietician, packing five pounds of muscle onto his already cut frame. He dialed in his TaylorMade equipment, shoring up a putting stroke and wedge game that was shockingly poor for a player of his caliber. Perhaps most importantly, he cleared his cluttered mind, cruising around Italy with wife Erica in a 1950s Mercedes convertible.
After an intense buildup to his season debut, McIlroy was curious about the true state of his game, about how he’d stack up when he finally put a scorecard in his hand. It didn’t take him long to find out.
Playing the first two rounds alongside Dustin Johnson – the undisputed world No. 1 who was fresh off a blowout victory at Kapalua – McIlroy beat him by a shot. Despite a 103-day competitive layoff, he played bogey-free for 52 holes. And he put himself in position to win, trailing by one heading into the final round. Though Fleetwood blew away the field with a back-nine 30 to defend his title, McIlroy collected his eighth top-5 in his last nine appearances in Abu Dhabi.
“I know it’s only three months,” he said, “but things change, and I felt like maybe I needed a couple of weeks to get back into the thought process that you need to get into for competitive golf. I got into that pretty quickly this week, so that was the most pleasing thing.”
The sense of relief afterward was palpable. McIlroy is entering his 11th full year as a pro, and deep down he likely realizes 2018 is shaping up as his most important yet.
The former Boy Wonder is all grown up, and his main challengers now are a freakish athlete (DJ) and a trio of players under 25 (Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm) who don’t lack for motivation or confidence. The landscape has changed significantly since McIlroy’s last major victory, in August 2014, and the only way he’ll be able to return to world No. 1 is to produce a sustained period of exceptional golf, like the rest of the game’s elite. (Based on average points, McIlroy, now ranked 11th, is closer to the bottom of the rankings, No. 1928, than to Johnson.)
But after years of near-constant turmoil, McIlroy, 28, finally seems ready to pursue that goal again. He is planning the heaviest workload of his career – as many as 30 events, including seven more starts before the Masters – and appears refreshed and reenergized, perhaps because this year, for the first time in a while, he is playing without distractions.
Not his relationships or his health. Not his equipment or his caddie or his off-course dealings.
Everything in his life is lined up.
Drama tends to follow one of the sport’s most captivating characters, but for now he can just play golf – lots and lots of golf. How liberating.
Crocker among quartet of Open qualifiers in Singapore
Former amateur standout Sean Crocker was among four players who qualified for the 147th Open via top-12 finishes this week at the Asian Tour's SMBC Singapore Open as part of the Open Qualifying Series.
Crocker had a strong college career at USC before turning pro late last year. The 21-year-old received an invitation into this event shortly thereafter, and he made the most of his appearance with a T-6 finish to net his first career major championship berth.
There were four spots available to those not otherwise exempt among the top 12 in Singapore, but winner Sergio Garcia and runners-up Shaun Norris and Satoshi Kodaira had already booked their tickets for Carnoustie. That meant that Thailand's Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattanond both qualified thanks to T-4 finishes.
Crocker nabbed the third available qualifying spot, while the final berth went to Australia's Lucas Herbert. Herbert entered the week ranked No. 274 in the world and was the highest-ranked of the three otherwise unqualified players who ended the week in a tie for eighth.
The next event in the Open Qualifying Series will be in Japan at the Mizuno Open in May, when four more spots at Carnoustie will be up for grabs. The 147th Open will be held July 19-22 in Carnoustie, Scotland.
Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again
Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.
Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.
It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.
Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.
While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.