LAS VEGAS -- When you tee it up at Badlands Golf Club in Las Vegas, it's vital to think before you swing.
The Johnny Miller-Chi Chi Rodriguez collaboration consists of three nines (Desperado, Diablo and Outlaw) that are a mix of resort and target-style golf -- with plenty of emphasis on the target portion.
And that's not a bad thing.
'It's quite a challenge,' said Las Vegas local Gary Bilonta, who has teed it up many times at Badlands. 'If it wasn't, I probably wouldn't play here. You don't always want to hit driver. It really makes me think on every shot. You've got to manage your game and have confidence in your shots.'
Positioning off the tee is key at Badlands. Each of the nines will give you plenty of scoring options. Pick the proper set of tees, plot your strategy and you'll have the chance to score well.
'There's no doubt if you use the six inches between your ears you'll lower your score,' said Ross McCullough, head golf professional at Badlands. 'You've got to know when not to use the driver. Play the course as it was designed -- using a hybrid or 3-wood at times to play for position -- and you will definitely score better.'
Badlands G.C.: On the course
The opening holes on the three nines are all par 4s that play less than 400 yards. But you better hit the fairway or the second shot will be played from a canyon, an arroyo or the rough, giving you tough approach shots.
'Trust your swing on the first tee and hit it down the middle and you'll get off to a good start,' McCullough said.
Each course also has at least one par-5 hole that is pure risk/reward.
On the Desperado nine it's the second hole. At 523 yards the green is reachable in two if you find the fairway off the tee, but the fairway narrows the farther you go.
On the Diablo nine the 551-yard eighth hole will test your patience. It's about 300 yards to the end of the fairway, but put it in the right-side bunker about 240 yards out and your plans for birdie or eagle are ruined. There's also an arroyo that cuts in front of the green, making it tough to reach the green in two even with a good drive.
On the Outlaw nine the 515-yard ninth hole is a challenge. It's OK to grab the driver and let it rip off the tee. But then you must decide whether to go for the green in two or lay up, which isn't easy to do as the fairway narrows the closer you get to the green. There's also a huge pond left and a bunker right that will catch errant shots (missing right is a much better option).
Overall, if you think their way around Badlands (hitting fairways and greens, working their way around the doglegs and avoiding trouble), they will find a course that will challenge them from start to finish. Don't take any shots for granted because this course can reach out and bite you.
Badlands G.C.: In the clubhouse
A spacious dining area, along with a comfortable patio, welcomes you before or after the round. The food choices are plentiful and the beverages will help soothe spirits if you've had a tough day.
The practice facility and putting area offer nice spots to get ready for the round. They are spacious and let you stretch out.
The staff is friendly and accommodating and will definitely steer you in the right direction when it comes to tee selections and game plans.
Badlands Golf Club: The verdict
Badlands Golf Club, for the most part, is target golf at its finest. It's a course that will reward you for good shots and punish those errant shots. Make sure to check your ego at the front desk (along with your driver on some holes). It's a fun course -- and very playable -- if you think your way around.