Golf on three budgets Las Vegas

By Mike BaileyDecember 31, 2010, 9:38 pm
wynn las vegas golf
                                                     No. 18 at Wynn Golf Club (

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.
For more travel tips, reviews and packages visit

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.
Getty Images

Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

“Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

“Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

“Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

Getty Images

Only putting is holding McIlroy back

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

“I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

Getty Images

Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

“It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.

Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida

“This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

Getty Images

Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

“So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

“For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”