No. 18 at Wynn Golf Club (TravelGolf.com)
If you're planning a trip to Las Vegas and golf is part of your itinerary, there are a lot of options, from high-end courses that treat you like a high-roller to more economical plays that still treat you pretty well.
Vegas is different than a lot of golf markets, particularly in terms of pricing. More and more green fees are dynamically priced, which means rates can vary from day to day, week to week and certainly season to season.
Mid-summer, for obvious reasons, is the most economical, but there are slow times the rest of the year, too, and generally mid-week green fees are priced lower than weekends, when Las Vegas sees the bulk of its vacationing travelers.
Many of the golf courses in Las Vegas also have tie-ins with the big resort casino hotels on and off the Strip, so you might want to check in with the concierge where you're staying. What follows is a loose price guide to playing golf in Las Vegas on three different budgets: like a high roller, going with the flow, and playing golf in Sin City economically.
High Roller Golf in Las Vegas
There are three golf courses in Las Vegas that stand above the rest, not only terms of the quality of the conditioning and layout of the courses, but in the service, exclusivity and – of course – price. Rack rate for these courses can be as high as $500, although in some cases, true high rollers might get special deals and on occasion you might also see a discount.
We're talking about clubs like Wynn Golf Club, Cascata Golf Club, Shadow Creek and Bali Hai Golf Club. Often you feel like you're the only group on the course. Cascata, for example, sets players up with a personal locker and a forecaddie. A waterfall streams down from behind the range and through the clubhouse, and each hole of this terrific Rees Jones design stands alone as the other holes on the course are almost invisible.
Wynn Golf Club was designed by Tom Fazio with Wynn Las Vegas resort owner Steve Wynn. Fountains, streams, imported mature trees, and crystal white sand bunkers abound, and it's one of only a couple golf courses located right on the Strip. Again, caddies and over-the-top personal attention are the order of the day.
Fazio also crafted Shadow Creek Golf Club, the original high roller course in Las Vegas. Shadow Creek, which used to be the domain of the privileged few, is now accessible through MGM Resort International for a sizeable fee. Like Wynn, it doesn't resemble the desert with its imported trees and lush fairways, roughs and greens. A Shadow Creek appointment begins with a limo ride to the course to be greeted by a personal caddie.
Like Wynn, Bali Hai Golf Club, a Pacific-themed escape to the islands, is also located right on the Strip, next to the Mandalay Bay Resort. The course always boasts lush conditions and outstanding service. Forecaddies are also available and recommended.
'Normal' Las Vegas courses
Defining this category can be difficult to pin down in terms of green fees, but let's just say these courses are substantially less than $500 and more often than not, over $100 in terms of rack rates. They make up the vast majority of well known Las Vegas golf courses, and in almost every case, you can expect terrific service for which the city's big resorts are known.
Starting with the Rees Jones-designed Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, you can expect to be challenged much like the pros are in the annual Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge. The greens can be especially difficult if you get on the wrong side of the pin, and they aren't easy to read. But soak up the scenery; Rio Secco, which is also home of the Butch Harmon Academy of Golf, offers great views of the mountains above and the Strip below.
On the subject of views, another good choice is the 36 holes of Revere Golf Club, also in Henderson. Marketed as 'revolutionary,' both the Lexington course and the Concord course (designed by Billy Casper and Greg Nash respectively), are routed in and out of canyons around streams and lakes and high above Las Vegas for some of the most impressive views in the area.
Besides Bali Hai, Walters Golf also offers Royal Links Golf Club, a tribute course that pays homage to the great venues of the British Open. The castle-like clubhouse and authentic Scottish pub inside really set off the experience.
The TPC Las Vegas is also a great choice to get the feel for Sin City golf. Promoted as 'desert elegance,' this stunning course with views of the Red Rock Canyon was designed by Bobby Weed and Ray Floyd. It's also home of the PGA Tour Academy, which offers an array of excellent instructional programs.
Value-priced golf in Las Vegas
To put this category in perspective, you have to remember we're talking Las Vegas here, where even the more economical plays have a certain flare and level of service you don't find in most golf markets. These are courses that can generally be played for less than $100, often much less, but generally don't lack in conditioning and interest.
Back in Henderson you'll find two great plays in Siena Golf Club and its sister, Arroyo G.C. at Red Rock. The former is a Schmidt-Curley design that offers spectacular conditions and will keep your interest from start to finish – it also has an impressive restuarant and clubhouse. Arroyo is an Arnold Palmer design just a couple miles away. It, too, has plenty of great holes, terrific service and impeccable conditions.
Desert Pines Golf Club, another Walters Golf course, is a Dye Designs track that also takes you out of the desert. With bentgrass greens and more than 4,000 mature pines, this tight course offers a number of risk-reward opportunities and a taste of Carolina Sandhills golf. It also has a double-decker range open at night.
Other more economical choices include Tuscany Golf Club and Rhodes Ranch Golf Club, both of which are really nice Ted Robinson designs; the 27 holes of Black Mountain Golf Club; Silverstone Golf Club (also 27 holes); and Angel Park, which has two championship-level courses as well as a very inexpensive short course called Cloud 9 that everyone should play.
And then there's Las Vegas National Golf Club, which has undergone several name changes over the years. It's old-school Las Vegas, a former haunt of the Rat Pack and the site of one famous golfer's very first PGA Tour win. Back in 1996, a young Tiger Woods won the Las Vegas Invitational there, and although it is overshadowed these days by the bigger, grander casinos and golf courses, Las Vegas National is still a nice walk in the park with plenty of stories to tell.