Golf is the other green of Vegas

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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.

shadow creek
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 LasVegasGolf.com.

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.

Including:
- 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.

Cascata

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.