The Other Green of Vegas

By October 13, 2009, 7:05 pm
By Bill Bowman

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.

'Playing one of these premier courses will simply extend your four-star treatment from the resort to the golf course,' says John DeMarco, Director-Travel Tourism for

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.
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 to get the best bang for your 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.

Bali Hai Golf Club Las VegasThe island green on the 16th hole at Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas.

Bali Hai Golf Club

Located on the south end of the Strip, the Brian Curley/Lee Schmidt-designed Bali Hai Golf Club 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 the 18th 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 Las Vegas

Wynn Golf Club

On the opposite end of the Strip is Wynn Golf Club, 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 tackle awe-inspiring creations from the first hole to the 18th. And what a closer 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 Club Las VegasThe 17th hole at Shadow Creek Golf Course.

Shadow Creek

Okay, it's not on the Strip. It's a 15-minute limo ride to the golf 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 it has all the makings of 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, and you 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 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. Shadow Creek's 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 it 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, pinpoint accuracy is a must.

Cascata Golf Club Las VegasThe par-4 14th at Cascata.


Rees Jones' design is a little longer ride from the Strip than Shadow Creek, about 25 minutes, but Cascata is 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 caddie 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 the zig-zagging par-5 18th, which plays around a mountain with a stream and pond also coming into play, will do nicely.

Suggested related links:

Las Vegas golf vacation deals

Get help planning a group golf outing in Vegas

Destination Guide: Las Vegas golf



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McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 1:09 pm

Rory McIlroy moved into position to send a powerful message in his first start of the new year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Closing out with back-to-back birdies Saturday, McIlroy posted a 7-under-par 65, leaving him poised to announce his return to golf in spectacular fashion after a winless year in 2017.

McIlroy heads into Sunday just a single shot behind the leaders, Thomas Pieters (67) and Ross Fisher (65), who are at 17-under overall at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Making his first start after taking three-and-a-half months off to regroup from an injury-riddled year, McIlroy is looking sharp in his bid to win for the first time in 16 months. He chipped in for birdie from 50 feet at the 17th on Saturday and two-putted from 60 feet for another birdie to finish his round.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy took 50 holes before making a bogey in Abu Dhabi. He pushed his tee shot into a greenside bunker at the 15th, where he left a delicate play in the bunker, then barely blasted his third out before holing a 15-footer for bogey.

McIlroy notably opened the tournament playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who started the new year winning the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in an eight-shot rout just two weeks ago. McIlroy was grouped in the first two rounds with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, the European Tour’s Player of the Year last season. McIlroy sits ahead of both of them going into the final round, with Johnson (68) tied for 12th, four shots back, and Fleetwood (67) tied for fourth, two shots back.

Those first two rounds left McIlroy feeling good about his off season work.

“That proves I’m back to full fitness and 100 percent health,” he said going into Saturday. “DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now and of, if not the best, drivers of the golf ball, and to be up there with him over the first two days proves to me I’m doing the right things and gives me confidence.”

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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation.