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Top-10 'Hey, I Work For A Living' Golf Courses in Las Vegas

5 January 2009

By Ken Van Vechten

The courses that follow are what pass for low-dollar golf in and around Vegas, particularly around. For no real reason other than I can -- or had to -- I set the coin-outlay threshold at about $150 at the high-season-rack end of the scale, though most here cost less, often much less. Actually, given the number of overstuffed overcooked overindulged courses that charge nearly $200 or more -- my God, Bali Hai advertised a $395 rate in May 2007 -- $150 is a wise investment.

And each one of these courses is also about good golf.

10. Black Mountain
Las Vegas has a decent number of 27-hole courses, which for golfers is like a re-buy option in a blackjack tournament. Henderson's Black Mountain has roots that reach back to what passes for the old days around here, yet the newest nine tries to be very desert modern. While a jarring visual and playing contrast -- and with a damnably damnable 9th hole -- it's a good solid play with a good solid staff.

9. Boulder City
The municipality of Boulder City scores a double with its Boulder City course (see Boulder Creek below). The routing isn't without some quirks; think of it as the downtown Las Vegas of golf courses. But it's real golf at a real price.

8. Palms
If you've driven to Mesquite to play Wolf Creek (or any course, for that matter), catch a round at Palms while you're there. This yin-yang parkland-then-desert riparian/woodland routing serves up some of the purest putting surfaces in existence.

7. Angel Park -- Mountain Course
At peak rack rate, Angel Park sets the coin bar for this category. That would draw into question its affordability quotient, if not for the fact that (at least a modicum of) discount pricing is fairly easy to come by. The Mountain Course is a good solid play and the larger facility is packed to the rafters: a second 18-hole course, lighted short course, putting course, huge range, good grill room.

6. Durango Hills
Forget the length and forget the cost, this simply is a place to play. Executive in name only, Durango Hills shuns the standard formula of throwaway half-wedge par 3s with the occasional regrettable par 4. Bali Hai designers Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley did the city of Las Vegas a big favor here and the city keeps it affordable and in good shape.

5. Tuscany
Henderson's Tuscany hasn't had as many lives as some area courses, but its latest incarnation pays heed to the belief that the cycle can lead to an improved state of being, even if it is, as in this case, overdressed in Italianate goo.

4. Mountain Falls
If I had an up-and-coming category, Mountain Falls might best fit there. But I don't. So here it is. Part of a blossoming residential community in Pahrump, Mountain Falls is two very distinct nines separated by the (formerly) erratic development pace of the project. When the newer nine grows in, the visual disconnect will be less apparent. Until then, it remains a high-value play with a load of risk/reward.

3. Mojave Resort
Though lacking a course actually in town, the town of Laughlin hits the radar screen twice when it comes to a golf getaway: Mojave Resort is just south at the Avi hotel-casino complex. Alternating thickets and water hazards add visual appeal to a course built on sand dunes near the Colorado River.

2. Boulder Creek
Boulder Creek scores at several levels. For the market, it's a bargain. For a true municipal facility, it's without peer in terms of conditioning and service. And it's an exciting roller-coaster of a ride that plays like a lot of the PR puffs in town wish they played.

1. Laughlin Ranch
If there's such a thing as inverse sticker shock, Laughlin Ranch has it in spades. Great price. Great track. Great play. Great views.

Copyright (c) 2008, Ken Van Vechten. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Ken Van Vechten says to never lay up on a short par 4 because driver presents one chance to screw up while 5-iron/mid-wedge doubles the likelihood. He's the author of Golf Las Vegas-The Ultimate Guide, Las Vegas EAT! and Neon Nuptials-The Complete Guide to Las Vegas Weddings. If he's not on the course or lounging in a spa somewhere you'll find him in his dual-ranged kitchen having cooking battles with his best pal and wife, Teresa. Click here to purchase your copy of Golf Las Vegas-The Ultimate Guide.

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