In case you haven't been to Las Vegas lately, the neon lights of the Strip are being outshined by the area's premier daytime attraction: golf.
Playing golf has quickly become a must for Vegas visitors. It's easy to see why. Some of the country's most challenging and exciting courses can be found in the Greater Las Vegas area. If the steep price tags of Vegas' high-end courses are too much green to part with, we suggest heading to where the locals play (yes, people actually do live in Las Vegas). They've got the inside scoop on the city's best bargains.
Here are our picks for an outstanding three days of golf in Las Vegas.
Day 1: Practice
Angel Park is considered "Las Vegas' Most Complete Golf Experience."
Get up early so you can catch the sunrise, a sight visitors rarely see. Today's the day you ease into your game by getting out the kinks.
Just 15 minutes from the Strip is Angel Park Golf Club, one of the most popular local courses in all of Nevada. It's also widely considered "Las Vegas' Most Complete Golf Experience." There are 36 holes of Arnold Palmer championship golf, a "Cloud Nine" 12-hole short course and an 18-hole natural turf putting green replete with bunkers, rock outcroppings and water hazards.
After you've loosened up at the practice center, it's time to tee it up on either the Mountain or Palm Course, both designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay. The Palms' 6th hole stands out as Angel Park's most unique design. The 525-yard, par-5 double-dogleg demands players to hit three good shots to reach the green.
If you choose to play the Mountain Course, you'll be treated to eye-catching views of the adjacent Red Rock and Spring Mountain ranges. Conditions are challenging around the greens, especially the 10th, a 428-yard, par-4 that features a small, crowned green.
Since this is your first day in Vegas, head out to the Bob Cupp-designed Cloud Nine Short Course to hone your scoring skills. Its 12 holes draws inspiration from some of the world's most famous short golf holes. If the sun is setting, don't worry, nine of its holes are lighted for after-dark fun!
Mountain Course: Par 71, 6,722 Yards,
Palm Course: Par 70, 6,525 Yards,
Contact: (888) 4-GOLF-LV, www.angelpark.com
Day 2: Relax
Aliante Golf Club (above) is one of Gary Panks' most serene and fun-to-play layouts.
Since yesterday was a long day with all the playing and practicing you did at Angel Park, you might want to sleep in and have breakfast in bed. A leisurely 20-minute drive to North Las Vegas takes you to Aliante Golf Club, a Gary Panks design that has been transformed from rolling desert terrain into a neatly contoured finished product. The 7,022-yard, par-72 has numerous landscape features, generous landing areas and trees not normally found in desert regions, like pear and purple locust.
Panks thinks of Aliante as a "strong challenge that incorporates all the best design elements found in outstanding golf courses," and we bet most golfers will agree. One of those design elements includes an arroyo, or dry river bed, that weaves its way into one of Panks' most serene and fun-to-play layouts.
That arroyo, and the course's strategically placed bunkers, routinely gobbles up errant shots. Another great feature for many who play Aliante is its community setting, making it the perfect place to settle down. The 1,905-acre community being developed in the City of North Las Vegas plans to include 7,500 homes and hopes to grow to a population of about 20,000. It's the proverbial "If I lived here I'd be home by now" scenario. But seeing that this is your three days in Vegas, you don't live here"yet.
After your round, head into the Aliante Grill for some great food (they even have a "low-carb" menu for those of you watching your weight). Catch up on the latest sports scores with their scrolling sports ticker and eight–count 'em–eight flatscreen TVs surrounding the bar.
Par-72, 7,022 Yards,
Rating/Slope: 72.8 / 133
Contact: (702) 399-4888, www.aliantegolf.com
Top 5 Relaxing Spas
1. The Spa Bellagio: 55,000 square feet of pure relaxation. www.bellagio.com
2. Spa Mandalay: This place has everything, including an 11-acre beach outside. www.mandalaybay.com.
3. MGM Grand Spa: Don't miss the coffee body scrub. Perky! www.mgmgrand.com
4. Spa Vito Di Lago: If it's at the Ritz-Carlton, you know it's first class. www.lakelasvegas.com _Ê
5. Canyon Ranch Spa Club: Spa treatments gone high-tech. www.venetian.com
1. Grand Canyon Yeah, we know it's 300 miles away, but it's the Grand Canyon! (800) 959-9164
2. Hoover Dam Just 30 miles southeast of Vegas, this mammoth drain-stopper took five years to build. (702) 494-2517
3. Las Vegas Art Museum Featuring works by some of the world's most cutting-edge artists. (702) 360-8000
4. Death Valley National Park The hottest and driest national park in the U.S. (760) 786-3200
5. ATV Action Tours Whitewater rafting and ATV quad excursions to satisfy the adventurer in you. (888) 288-5200
Where To Stay
Suncoast Hotel and Casino
427 rooms, not to mention Primos Steakhouse and the Italian restaurant Via Veneto. www.suncoastcasino.com
Red Rock Resort, Spa & Casino
Lip-smacking good steak at T-Bones Chophouse and finger-licking Texas BBQ at Salt Lick BBQ. 414 rooms. www.redrocklasvegas.com
Green Valley Ranch
500 rooms and two fine restaurants: Hanks (steakhouse) and Il Fornaio (Italian). Oh, and a world class spa. www.greenvalleyranchresort.com
Day 3: Play
Before bidding Las Vegas adieu, bring your “A” game to The Legacy Golf Club.
After your relaxing day at Aliante and a day's worth of playing and practice at Angel Park, it hardly seems fair that you have to leave town at some point, but to make up for it, you can bring your "A" game to one of Vegas' most demanding layouts: The Legacy, conveniently located just 10 minutes from the airport. Bring your bags with you because you can get to your plane just minutes after you hole out on 18.
This Arthur Hills gem features some Vegas-esque touches, like the famous "playing cards" 10th tee box. (Each box is mowed into the shape of a suit: heart, diamond, club and spades.) But it isn't just this homage to Vegas that makes the 7,233-yard, par-72 course memorable. It's the true test of golf you'll experience.
The Legacy, which has hosted the local U.S. Open qualifier for the past several years, isn't a pushover, particularly on the backside, where its answer to "Amen Corner" awaits you. The trio of holes, known as the "Devil's Triangle" (holes 11-13), has golfers routinely praying to the golf gods for mercy. The three holes crisscross desert canyons and lava outcroppings that present a stark challenge for novices and advanced players alike.
"The Legacy Golf Club is a shot maker's dream," says course designer Arthur Hills. We agree.
Par-72, 7,233 yards,
Contact: (888) 4-GOLF-LV, www.thelegacygc.com