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Las Vegas Golf
With an average of 315 days of sunshine a year and year-round access, Las Vegas's top sport is golf. The peak season is any nonsummer month; only mad dogs and Englishmen are out in the noonday summer sun. However, most of the courses in Las Vegas offer reduced greens fees during the summer months, sometimes as much as 50% to 70% lower than peak-season fees.
If you want to play on a weekend, call before you get into town, as the 8 to 11 am time slots fill up quickly. Starting times for same-day play are possible (especially during the week), but if you're picky about when and where you play, plan ahead. Some of the big Strip resorts have a dedicated golf concierge who can advise you on a course that fits your tastes. In some cases, these people can get you access to private courses.
Bali Hai Golf Club. This island-theme 18-hole, 7,002-yard, par-71 course is dotted with palm trees, volcanic outcroppings, and small lagoons. The entrance is a mere 10-minute walk from Mandalay Bay. The clubhouse includes a pro shop and restaurant. Peak greens fees begin around $259 midweek, going up to $319 on weekends; specials are available for as low as $169. 5160 Las Vegas Blvd. S, South Strip, Las Vegas, NV, 89119. 888/427-6678 or 702/450-8191. www.balihaigolfclub.com.
Bear's Best Las Vegas. Jack Nicklaus created this course by placing replicas of his 18 favorite holes (from the 270 courses he's designed worldwide) into a single 7,194-yard par-72 course. If that doesn't make you reach for your ugly pants, then consider that the clubhouse has enough Nicklaus memorabilia to fill a small museum. A huge dining area doubles as a banquet hall, and an even bigger pavilion provides beautiful views of the mountains and the Strip. Peak-season greens fees start at $179 during the week and $269 on weekends. 11111 W. Flamingo Rd., Summerlin, Las Vegas, NV, 89135. 702/605-0649. www.clubcorp.com.
SouthShore Golf Club. Technically, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Signature Course at this Lake Las Vegas golf club is members-only, but a relatively new change in the bylaws allow guests Ravella at Lake Las Vegas, the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa and a handful of other hotels play as if they were card-carrying stalwarts. Hardcore enthusiasts say the par-71, 6,917-yard championship layout is challenging; there are nearly 90 bunkers in all. Still, with views of Lake Las Vegas and the surrounding River Mountains, the experience is second to few others in the Las Vegas Valley. 100 Strada di Circolo, Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, NV, 89011. 702/856-8402. www.pacificlinks.com.
Las Vegas National Golf Club. Built in 1961, this historic 6,815-yard par-71 course has played host to Vegas royalty and golf's superstars over the years. Tiger shot 70 on the final round of his first PGA Tour win during the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, and Mickey Wright won two of her four LPGA Championships here. You'll find five difficult par-3s and a killer 550-yard par-5 at the 18th. Peak greens fees start at $79 during the week and $99 on weekends. The course is a $12-$15 cab ride from most properties on the Strip. 1911 E. Desert Inn Rd., East Side, Las Vegas, NV, 89169. 702/734-1796 or 866/695-1961. www.lasvegasnational.com.
Paiute Golf Resort. You can play three Pete Dye-designed courses here: Wolf, Snow Mountain, and Sun Mountain. Snow Mountain fits most skill levels and has been ranked by Golf Digest as Las Vegas's best public-access course. Sun Mountain is a player-friendly course but its difficult par-4s make it marginally more challenging than Snow. Six of those holes measure longer than 400 yards, but the best is the fourth hole, which is 206 yards over water. Wolf, with its island hole at No. 15, is the toughest of the three and arguably the most difficult in the area. Greens fees at 7,165-yard, par-72 Snow Mountain and 7,112-yard, par-72 Sun Mountain go up to $159, and premium weekend tee times on the 7,604-yard Wolf get into the $189 range. If you want to play last-minute, all courses offer great twilight 9-hole rates. 10325 Nu-Wav Kaiv Blvd., Summerlin, Las Vegas, NV, 89124. 702/658-1400 or 800/711-2833. www.lvpaiutegolf.com.
Rhodes Ranch Golf Club. One of the better courses in the Las Vegas Valley, the 6,909-yard, par-72 Rhodes Ranch course was designed by renowned architect Ted Robinson to provide enough challenges for any skill level—numerous water hazards, difficult bunkers, and less-than-even fairways. Peak-season greens fees start at $139 Sunday through Thursday and $159 Friday and Saturday; twilight rates have been known to drop to around $65 or lower. 20 Rhodes Ranch Pkwy., West Side, Las Vegas, NV, 89148. 702/740-4114 or 888/311-8337. www.rhodesranchgolf.com.
Royal Links Golf Club. Similar in concept to Bear's Best, this 7,029-yard, par-72 is a greatest-hits course, replicating popular holes from 11 courses in the British Open rotation. You can play the Road Hole from the famed St. Andrews, and the Postage Stamp from Royal Troon. It's a rare chance to play links golf without having to cross an ocean, and the Las Vegas weather usually has far more sunshine and warmth. Also on-site is Stymie's Pub. Peak-season greens fees start around $189 weekdays, and $249 weekends. 5995 Vegas Valley Dr., East Side, Las Vegas, NV, 89142. 702/450-8181 or 888/427-6678. www.royallinksgolfclub.com.
TPC Las Vegas. The PGA manages this 7,081-yard par-71 championship layout next to the JW Marriott. The course features a number of elevation changes, steep ravines, and a lake. It also is one of the venues for the Las Vegas Invitational, a stop on the PGA Tour. During peak season, fees start at $189 during the week and $269 on weekends. 9851 Canyon Run Dr., Summerlin, Las Vegas, NV, 89144. 702/256-2500 or 888/321-5725. www.tpc.com/tpc-las-vegas.
The Wynn Golf Club. Tom Fazio's lavish urban golf course is built on the site of the old Desert Inn Golf Course, but bares little resemblance to the original. You're up against significant elevation changes and water hazards are in the mix on 11 of the 18 holes. The 37-foot Wynn waterfall on the 18th hole caps the 7,042-yard, par-70 course. Open to hotel guests only, the peak-season greens fee is $500. Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S, North Strip, Las Vegas, NV, 89109. 702/770-7000 or 888/320-7123. www.wynnlasvegas.com.
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