If you wanna spice up that golf with some debaucherous revelry, you could make it a casino course destination. You could. Why not, instead, do the Real Deal? Why not Las Vegas?
So here in nutshell is your down and dirty guide to a Sin City golf getaway.
The top honor in Vegas golf goes to … Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.
Howl me a riot act, go ahead, for I do love Shadow Creek. Shadow Creek also isn’t exactly open to most, and you can drop a few Benz payments, all in, for that afternoon at what is an American top-10 course.
Nope. We’re mortals here, sane, and golf nuts, and three beats one every time, anyway, as in Wolf, Snow Mountain and Sun Mountain. Save a bulkhead here, an island green, these are about the least “Pete Dye” Pete Dye courses in existence.
Situated on tribal land a half hour northwest of Glitter Gulch, a key takeaway from Paiute is no urban encroachments, no McMansions choking fairways and view sheds. There’s also not a lamb in the flock. Wolf it the most boisterous and visually contrasting. Sun Mountain is the designer clearly showing you his hand, and your skill determining the outcome. Snow Mountain is the trickster, the beguiling one, with a high R&R Rating – risk and reward. Simply Vegas’ best complete golf experience – courses, service, cost, value, scenery.
But, hey, it’s Vegas, so let’s do some over-the-top, and that comes courtesy of Cascata Golf Club.
What began life as Caesars Palace’s answer to you-know-where has, in my estimation, matured from a showy peacock trying too hard into a place that just easily oozes perfection.
From the personal greeting at the front door to the forecaddies to a grill room staff that treats you better than your home club could ever muster, the word is service. Sure, it’s expensive, but so is your cable bill, and how much do you bitch about what your provider passes for content?
On the golf side, Rees Jones flung Cascata over the side of the craggy mountains out toward Boulder City. You will share your round with bighorn sheep because, absent golf carts, they not humans are the only things without wings acclimated to this type of terrain. And, yes, a river cascades down the mountain and through the clubhouse.
The test of time has served Cascata well.
Steak, it’s what’s for golf trip. (And if you’re beef-averse, you probably play badminton, so you won’t be reading this.) Vegas does steak like the Church does guilt.
Pretty much every single casino-resort has at least one steakery, and freestanding chophouses dot the valley. By my reckoning, if it’s USDA Prime from a top domestic rancher, I can get a ribsteak or a strip loin of some caliber of volume and it meets an exceedingly sun-searing heat source for a very brief period of time, I’m good.
But choose we must and for this go around I choose the Palm at Caesars Forum Shops.
Yes, it is not indigenous to Vegas. Yes, the Palm has outposts across the map. It’s not like Puck or Lagasse or Flay are toque-clad and in that kitchen. The Palm is an institution in the really, really good meaning of the concept. Service is sharp and seamless. The servers are witty and collected, with enough vibe to remind you that this place started up eons ago in the Big Apple and the knowledge to get you to that just-right main. The bar is active and the entire atmosphere is charged. It’s a meal, a celebration, not a wake. Enjoy. Robustly.
There are three Vegases, and fans of each don’t necessarily get along.
There’s down(andout)town, the historic heart of all this mania and, truth be told, a helluva fun place to be.
There’s the Strip, which is either the world’s greatest assemblage of over-the-top excess matched step-by-step with luxury or a total farcical waste; that latter sentiment is blasphemy.
And then there is the valley, where the so-called gambler-friendly locals casinos reside, as do some of Vegas’ finest resorts.
We’ve been attracted to one, the JW Marriott Las Vegas, for some two decades now. Proximity to all that golf in Summerlin and being that much closer to Paiute is a plus; it is a GOLF trip. Every room in the joint exceeds the size of a typical urban flat and with far better fit and finish. The pool is subtle, big, relaxing. The spa is one of the best in town. And Spiedini serves up rustic Italian with regional breadth – Dear America, there is no singularity to “Italian” – in a subtly arty setting.
Travel and golf writer Ken Van Vechten is the author of three Las Vegas guidebooks, including Golf Las Vegas: The Ultimate Guide, and has written enough magazine and newspaper articles to fell a good-sized forest.