Few golf courses play like Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters. From Amen Corner to iconic features such as the Big Oak Tree and the Crow’s Nest, the private course is one of the four courses any golf pro wants to conquer so he can wear the green blazer awarded to the winner of the Masters. The club only has 300 members, and you can’t apply for membership. But if offered, you could rub shoulders with Jack Welch, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates.
This week, as Tiger Woods returns to the course (and his career) after a hiatus while dealing with his dallying ways here in Vegas, we take a look at some of the stunning golf courses in Sin City that can challenge your prowess on the links and give you a chance to swing with the powerful.
Half an hour south of the Strip sits Harrah Entertainment’s Cascata, a par-72 course with a touch of Tuscany. Rees Jones designed this 7,100-yard course in 2000 with beautiful views from every hole including a 3,600-foot peak at Red Mountain, five streams, four ponds and a waterfall.
The downhill par 3 7th hole features a waterfall dropping in toward the green’s left. The 434-yard 14th at Cascata is a dogleg right par 4 where water is always in play. Just watch out for bighorn sheep known to cross the course.
After your round, hang out in the Tuscan-style, 37,000-square-foot clubhouse with a dining room serving American fare and a collection of rare tobaccos in the cigar lounge.
Green fees range from $250 to $500 depending on the season and start time. Forecaddies are mandatory and the suggested fee and tip is $50 per person. While guests of Harrah’s properties get first dibs, the course does take reservations at 1.888.588.3387.
Wynn Golf Club
Tom Fazio and Steve Wynn paired up to create the 7,042-yard Wynn Golf Club, a par-70 course built on the former home of the Desert Inn Golf Club at Wynn Las Vegas. More than 800,000 cubic yards of earth were moved to create the dramatic elevation changes, and more than 100,000 new shrubs were planted and roughly 1,200 existing trees were salvaged and relocated from the former Desert Inn Golf Course, some more than 50 years old and more than 60 feet tall.
Water comes into play in 11 of the 18 holes with streams and two marshland areas that use natural groundwater. The 18th hole features a 37-foot waterfall and provides the backdrop for diners at The Country Club, A New American Steakhouse.
Rounds of golf go for $500, and a caddy is provided. For reservations, call 702.770.4653.
Another creation from Tom Fazio is Shadow Creek, one of the country’s most exclusive golf courses owned by MGM Mirage. Located in North Las Vegas, Shadow Creek is known for its natural beauty such as rolling terrain, brooks, ponds, waterfalls, gardens and mature trees.
The short par-3 17th may only play from 129 to 164 yards, but every inch of it is challenging. Just don’t get distracted by the waterfall that flows into a lake and a mountain backdrop. The course’s four par 3s play to elevated greens or from elevated tee boxes.
The par-5 18th features three lakes that come into play if you can find the narrow green surrounded by lush foliage and several bunkers.
A limited number of tee times are available Monday through Thursday at Shadow Creek for $500 for guests of any of the MGM Mirage resorts along The Strip. Limousine transportation to and from the course, a golf cart and caddie are included in the green fee.
Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance at Shadow Creek by calling 702.791.7161.
Bali Hai Golf Club
Brian L. Dickson, manager of the Venetian and Palazzo’s golf reservation office, recommends the Bali Hai Golf Club. “When you play Bali Hai, you’ll feel like you are on an island playing in the South Pacific on a well-manicured championship course,” he said.
The course, designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in 2000, captures the look and feel of its namesake in Indonesia with seven acres of water features, 4,000 trees, 2,500 stands of towering palms and 100,000 tropical plants. Transition and out-of-play areas are accented with Augusta white sand and black volcanic rock outcroppings.
The par-71 course measures 7,002 yards with views of the south Strip. The course includes the 16th, a par-3 island green that frequently comes with an audience from the Cili Restaurant patio and the 3rd, dubbed the “Shipwreck,” a 468 yard, par 4 with a creek running along the entire right side, balanced with a bunker on the left.
Rounds here go for up to $295. Located at 5160 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Bali Hai accepts reservations at 1.888.427.6678.
Royal Links Golf Club
Did your invitation to the British Open get lost in the mail? Never fear. You always have the Royal Links Golf Club, a course Dickson calls one of his favorites. This par-72 course reaches 7,029 yards from the tips and offers 18 of the best holes from 11 different British Open rotation courses, including Turnberry Golf Club No. 5 and No. 15. It’s a place where you can get lost in the lore of golf and appreciate details right down to the gorse.
Look for the “Road Hole” and “Hell Bunker” from the old course at St. Andrews and the “Postage Stamp” from Royal Troon. Other courses in the loop include Carnoustie, Turnberry, Royal Liverpool, Prestwick, Royal Lytham, Muirfield and Royal Birkdale. Keeping with the tradition, the course has no water.
You can even shoot to beat Tiger Woods’ 67, a course record he shot in February 2001. You can hire a professional forecaddie — who can give you the history of each hole and location of 108 pot bunkers — to add to your Scottish experience. Walking caddies are also available and are required for those who choose to walk.
The course is located at 5995 E. Vegas Valley Dr. For reservations, call 1.888.427.6678. The course charges up to $199 per golfer.