With the Justin Timberlake Shriners Childrens Hospitals for Children Open approaching, all eyes are on Las Vegas' spectacular golf courses.
LAS VEGAS – At first glance, the assignment sounded easy: Write a story about the best par-3 golf holes in Las Vegas.
Hmm. Shouldn't be a problem. Then reality set in as the first list of possibilities turned up 31 golf holes.
Back to the drawing board. A little tweaking here and there and here's one man's look at the top three-shot holes in Sin City...
• Bali Hai Golf Club, 16th hole, 141 yards: One of Las Vegas golf's island greens, the hole's beauty and its severely undulating green make it a must-play. One warning: Simply landing on the 16th green at Bali Hai G.C. does not assure a par.
• Bear's Best Golf Club, 15th hole, 233 yards: This hole on Jack Nicklaus' Vegas design replicates the fifth hole at the Chiricahua Course at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. From the tips, it's an imposing shot that features a carry over a wash with desert outcroppings right and left to catch errant shots. This one's tough.
• Boulder Creek Golf Club's Coyote Run course, eighth hole, 179 yards: Another hole that has it all. There's a waterfall, pond, huge bunkers and the location at the base of a mountain. With six sets of tees, players get to choose how much water comes into play. You can play it as a full carry or just cut a corner off the pond. Add some diabolical pin placement options and you've got the makings of a championship golf hole.
• Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Wolf Course, 15th hole, 182 yards: The island green is breathtaking to view, but it leaves you breathless in the search for the right club. A true 'do-or-Dye' hole, it's all or nothing once you take a deep breath and unleash, hopefully, that ideal golf swing.
• Legacy Golf Club, 10th hole, 193 yards: Nothing screams Las Vegas more than this tee, as the four boxes are shaped like the suits in a deck of cards – heart, club, spade and diamond. The three-tiered, tough-to-putt green makes this a great golf hole to open your back nine.
• Rhodes Ranch Golf Club, third hole, 227 yards: A pond, waterfall, four bunkers and a narrow green make for one tough golf shot. To hit the green ranks as an impressive feat on this imposing hole.
• Rio Secco Golf Club, seventh hole, 208 yards: Always a favorite for its aesthetics, it's all carry over a deadly-but-shimmering blue pond to a green guarded left, long and right by bunkers. The front of the green sits precariously on the edge of the pond, so short is not an option. Get the picture? Pick the right club and give it your best shot. You're going to need it.
• Siena Golf Club, fifth hole, 159 yards: Another water-laden hole. Here, the wet stuff comes into play on three sides. It's not deceptively long but still a tough par, even with a good tee shot, because of a tough-to-read green. As with most of the holes on this list, take a moment to check out the views after you've putted. You won't be disappointed.
• TPC Las Vegas, second hole, 196 yards: This version of an island green comes with a desert flair. Instead of water surrounding the green, the desert floor, some 15 feet below, serves as the grave for errant shots. It may lack the drama of a watery splash, but it calls for the same penalty – reload and try it again.
• Wynn Golf Club, sixth hole, 163 yards: With a pond fronting the green and an imposing brick wall that elevates the putting surface above the water, this is a challenging shot. Beautiful, lush foliage and impressive background views make it the perfect spot for a perfect shot.
Also worth a look
There you have it, 10 of Vegas' best par-3 holes. Also worth a look are: The seventh hole at Cascata, no. 17 on the Lexington course at Revere Golf Club, the eighth hole at Royal Links Golf Club and the second at Silverstone Golf Club's Valley nine.
Well, you get the picture. When it comes to par 3s, the artists who created the many golf masterpieces around Vegas put forth their best efforts. And it shows.
There are so many more. But like most lists, this one remains subject to change. Next time a certain writer scores a birdie on a par-3 not seen here, that hole's stock certainly rises in its bid to rate among the best in Las Vegas.