Welcome to The Las Vegas 18, the most fun I’ve had thinking about golf in a long time!
A few days ago I posted on my Instagram Account my list of The Las Vegas 18. This list was put together after one of my new favorite accounts on IG, @NevadaGolf, put together their list of the top 18 holes in the state of Nevada.
I was instantly caught up in the idea of doing one for Las Vegas. 99% of the golf I play takes place in the Vegas Valley, so I thought I spend a few days and come up with the list. I’ve played almost every course in town; there are just a few I haven’t. This list only includes courses I’ve played. So you won’t see The Summit, Anthem Country Club, Red Rock Country Club, Painted Desert, or Highland Falls. Also, there are no executive courses.
There are two great courses, Bear’s Best and Royal Links that I eliminated from the list just because they are replica courses and I didn’t feel they fit in with the theme of the list. Also, and this one was tough too, Boulder Creek out in Boulder City was left off because they have three sets of nine holes. Trying to pick one hole for the front out of 27 just didn’t go well, and there were too many other viable holes from other courses.
The format for the list:
The way the roster was established is rather simple. The No. 1 hole is the first hole on that course. The No. 2 Hole is the second hole on that course and so on the list goes. I wanted to, like @NevadaGolf, try to keep a close resemblance to par and include as many great holes as I could. I ended up going with three of each par for each nine. Doing the list in that manner I ended up with a par of 72.
The other aspect I put in place was no repeat courses. Only one hole per course. I decided to create the list this way just to make it more interesting and to keep the list from containing 18 holes from a combination of Shadow Creek and Southern Highlands.
Here’s the Las Vegas 18:
No. 1 – Wolf Creek – Par 5
Wolf Creek out in Mesquite is the opening hole for my Vegas 18. Yes, yes, yes, I know, it’s not in Vegas but it is Southern Nevada so it gets a pass along with the second hole.I’ve been hyper-critical of Wolf Creek for numerous reasons but where it fails in some aspects, where it shines is spectacular. It’s golf porn in it’s purest form. While the golf play may not be what I like or enjoy you cannot deny the visual brilliance of this desert course. This first hole, a Par 5 that from the tips is practically a mile long, offers dramatic elevation changes, stunning views of the some of the closing holes and a for sure photo spot that will have your friends wishing they had come with you.
Other holes that were considered: Primm Desert, Coyote Springs, Cascata
No. 2 – Conestoga Golf Club – Par 3
When looking at the number of courses the Southwest desert of Nevada has to offer, Conestoga Golf Club can be looked upon as relatively new. Opening up in 2010 the course offer some outstanding desert views and challenging layout for all types of players. I consider it to be up there with the best desert golf has to offer. The second hole at Conestoga is a par 3 that features a severe elevation drop. Like a LOT! Any course with a big drop in elevation on a par three is a blast. Torrey Pines comes to mind. But what makes this hole a perfect fit for the list is the desert views that accompany the fun play.
Other holes that were considered: TPC Las Vegas, Revere Lexington. DragonRidge
No. 3 – Paiute Snow Mountain – Par 5
I was in a tough spot with this selection. I need a final Par 5 and it had to be the 3rd hole to finish the list. Make a few changes elsewhere would have railroaded everything. Then I realized I hadn’t looked at Paiute yet for the list! That was mind-numbing. One of the best, if not the best resorts in town and I had excluded them. Well, turns out each course at Paiute offers a Par 5 3rd hole. That made it even more challenging but in the end, the clear winner is the Snow Mountain 3rd.
A glorious Par 5, that you’ll most likely have to play into the wind with an amazing approach shot to a heavily protected green with water and a beach bunker on the right side.
Other holes that were considered: Southern Highlands,
No. 4 – Coyote Springs – Par 4
Coyote Springs is a special place, Formerly called The Chase at Coyote Springs, the course is a testament to a pissed off Jack Nicklaus. Arguably one of the toughest layouts in the area, Coyote Springs features rolling fairways, aggressively undulated greens, and some amazing mountain scenery. The Par 4, fourth hole at The Chase (Yes, I still call it that) is the first real challenge on the course. The carry over the water off the tee starts the mental game the second you step up to hit your shot. The fairway leans hard left to right with bunkers strategically placed in a way to mess with your head. From the fairway, the approach only gets more intimidating.
Other holes that were considered: Shadow Creek, Club at Sunrise
No. 5 – Siena Golf Club Par 3
I was in a pickle here. All the holes had been picked and I was now in search of a Par 3, 5th hole somewhere here in the valley. After much “google mapping” mainly because I couldn’t recall a par 3 5th that “wowed” me, I came across a hole that I actually enjoy playing. The Par 3 5th at Siena Golf Club.
It’s a relatively short par three but the challenge is still there. A water carry has you looking to the back of the green for safety but it all depends on that pin placement! Stick the landing and Par is inevitable, but if you miss, well, we all know how that goes!
Other holes that were considered:
No. 6 – Reflection Bay – Par 5
For me, a worthy Par 5 requires it to be a 3-shot hole. Yes, Eagles are awesome but in this era of Bomb and Gouge Golf, I love seeing when the Tour makes a stop at a course where the players are forced to make three excellent swings to get to the green. The Par 5 6th at Reflection Bay is a winner in regards to that qualification. It has is all, minus water, elevation changes, multiple fairways, AMAZING bunkering, deception from the legendary Jack Nicklaus, and the views, oh my the views!
Other holes that were considered: Las Vegas National
No. 7 – Dragon Ridge C.C. – Par 4
The Par 4 7th at DragonRidge made this list because to me it’s one of the most visually appealing holes on the course. The beautiful fairway, the lake to the right, the uphill green. It has it all from a standpoint of when you’re standing there it’s just fun to look at and even more, it’s fun to play. The million dollar homes on the hillside are breathtaking. When creating the list there were several holes from DragonRidge I wanted to include but none of them I was more excited about listing than the 7th.
Other holes that were considered: Rio Secco
No. 8 – Southern Highlands – Par 3
This was another difficult decision. There are so many great holes at Southern Highlands I almost said the hell with it and included two. The Par 5 3rd almost mixed everything up but I stuck to my guns and made the hard choice to exclude the 3rd and showcase this amazing Par 3. There may not be a more scenic, pleasing to the eye Par 3 than the 8th at Southern Highlands. For a moment you can get caught up in the surrounds and completely forget you’re in Vegas. It’s captivating, to say the least, but, most importantly, it’s a damn good golf hole. I wish I could have had more from SH but this hole showcases everything about the place in my opinion.
Other holes that were considered: Revere Concord
No. 9 – Wildhorse Golf Club – Par 4
This is where I’ll lose a lot of the locals. Wildhorse isn’t exactly a premier golf destination in the valley. Over the years they’ve made some changes, which I think some have worked and others haven’t. But, one thing that remains is the 9th hole (I believe it’s been the 18th as well in the past) is fantastic! It’s an incredibly challenging Par 4 that test the nerves of the mid handicap and can showcase the skills of better players. The approach shot is one if the best in town with a bailout area to the right and a heavily guarded elevated green that requires a precise shot to leave with Par.
Other holes that were considered: Chimera, Rio Secco, Las Vegas Country Club, Siena Golf Club
No. 10 – Legacy Golf Club – Par 3
My heart was broken when the Legacy shut down in 2017. Thankfully the course reopened not too long after the closure and is up and running. I’ve yet to make it back out there since they reopened but it’s in the plans to make it out there sooner than later. The Par 3 10th is an iconic hole for the Vegas valley and because of it’s Card Suit tee boxes, it was a no-brainer to make the list. The shortest hole on the list with virtually zero elevation changes may cause some people to question my choice but with the legendary and iconic tee boxes it had to be here.
Other holes that were considered: Paiute Sun Mountian
No. 11 – South Shore – Par 5
There are certainly more holes out at South Shore that have more pizzaz than the 11th. But where it lacks drama and insanity it makes up for it with a tremendous view of Lake Las Vegas and a bad ass golf hole! The highly elevated tee box allows you to grip it and rip it. Watching your ball fly through the sky and make it’s way down to the fairway is a blast. The approach shots are challenging and the green complex is simply stunning. This was another course where many holes could have made the list, but none of them left me smiling more than the 11th.
Other holes that were considered:
No. 12 – Rio Secco – Par 3
There are several holes out at the Rio Secco Golf Club that could make this list. There are some dramatic holes like the very challenging 2nd, the amazing views of the valley on the 9th, the iconic “Million Dollar Hole” or what used to be the million-dollar hole that was the 16th. But for me, the 12th hole is the essence of Rio. A challenging Par 3 where you have a force carry of 150 yards from the middle tees, then a bunker on top of that. The green slopes dramatically from right to left and anything on that right side is going to be a tough second.
Other holes that were considered: Legacy Golf Club, Revere Concord
No. 13 – Las Vegas National – Par 4
I just flat out love this golf hole. The 13th at Las Vegas National has a special place in my heart because many years ago I work at the course and we used to have a blast playing the hole. It’s a drivable Par 4 for the big hitters (i.e. James Feutz who I saw drive it with a 3 wood) and a fun, challenging short hole for everyone else. The green has a bunker that runs along the front right edge that runs into the lake giving it a beach effect. It’s shallow enough to hit out of (i.e. James Feutz) and still make birdie. LOL. It’s old school golf at it finest which you don’t get a lot of in Vegas.
Other holes that were considered: DragonRidge
No. 14 – Cascata Golf Club – Par 4
It goes without saying, Cascata Golf Club is a mind-blowing experience. The over-the-top service makes you feel like a golf God. The golf is unique and offers some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. In my opinion, none of them come close to what you get standing above the 14th tee box overlooking the hole. With the Eldorado Valley in the background, the dry lake bed, the numerous palms that line the fairway it’s an epic view and a damn fun golf hole. You’ll leave Cascata wanting to come back as soon as possible and it’s golf holes like the Par 4 14th that give you the desire.
Other holes that were considered: none
No. 15 – Bali Hai Golf Club – Par 5
What would be a Vegas Golf list without a hole that’s on the Las Vegas Strip? The future of Bali Hai doesn’t look good as more than likely it’s going to be a massive parking lot for the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders (still odd saying that). Regardless of it’s future the Par 5 15th at Bali Hai is a fun hole and mainly because of the backdrop. The Mandalay Bay sits front and center as you make your way from your approach shot to the green. Yes, the 18th is more dramatic and has better views of the resort but when you see No. 18 you’ll understand why there was no way I was giving it to Bali Hai.
Other holes that were considered: Paiute Wolf
No. 16 – Chimera Golf Club – Par 4
Had it not been for the recent flipping of the 9’s Chimera wasn’t going to make the list. Luckily for them, and this list, we now get to include them and this tough golf hole. An elevated tee box with a mildly narrow fairway gives you a challenge right out the gates. If you’re long and right or left you’re in jail from the tall palms situated tightly to the fairway. More than once I’ve had to gamble and try to escape through the tight opening. A dead center tee shot leaves you a great approach to a very large green complex that protected up from by a deep bunker. It’s a very scorable hole that can kill a round early.
Other holes that were considered: Rio Secco, TPC Summerlin
No. 17 – TPC Summerlin – Par 3
This was the first hole I wrote down on this list. The iconic 17th is home to the only playoff ace in the HISTORY of the PGA Tour. Jonathan Byrd made an ace to win the 2010 Shriners Open in dramatic fashion. The hole is no slouch either. An elevated tee box has you hitting into a green that slopes right to left. There’s bunker on the right that almost guarantees bogey and the presence of the lake on the left of the green causes the nerves to kick in immediately. It’s a great risk-reward hole that is the perfect predecessor to the finishing 18th.
Other holes that were considered: none
No. 18 – Shadow Creek – Par 5
Yup, you guessed it, Shadow Creek deserving so holds down the final spot for the Las Vegas 18. The Par 5 18th is one of the most amazing golf holes in all of Las Vegas. The tee shot is enough to bring a man to his knees. Try to carry the right side too much and you’re done for. But it just gets better from there. The approach shot is spectacular and challenging at the same time. A narrow fairway with the Lake to the right has you thinking left side all day. But the trees can cause a nightmare. The green is protected by the lake, a short side bunker, and bunkers in the back if you get brave and hit it too well. It’s arguably one of the best finishing holes in all of the South West.
Other holes that were considered: Southern Highlands, Revere Concord, Las Vegas Country Club, Bali Hai
What’s an awesome round of golf without a 19th Hole?
My first experience with a 19th hole came at Streamsong. The worst part, I had no clue what it was. Afterwards, I was reading some articles about the facility, and the author was talking about how they had finished their match dead even and headed over to the short par 3 19th the settle up the bet for the round. I had no idea it was the 19th hole. I thought it was a small short game area. Needless to say, I was pissed I missed the opportunity to partake in a neat hole.
Here in Vegas, I can only think of one 19th hole that is a golf hole and not the bar inside the clubhouse. It was an easy pick, but in the spirit of this list, it’s quite fitting. It’s one of my favorite tracks in the valley and I’m glad I was able to find a spot for it, even if it comes with an asterisk.
No. 19 – Las Vegas Country Club – Par 3
I’ve just recently fallen in love with the Las Vegas Country Club and it hurt not to have any holes included in the 18. Then I realized something as I was scrolling through some pictures on my phone the other day. The 19th! The first time I played I completely missed the little guy. I was in a cart with my daughter and just drove right on by without even noticing it. Last time though, Andrew and I walked the course and there it was in all its glory. I LOVE the concept behind a 19th tee. We put all the golf course play behind us and played closest to the hole for drinks after the round. Way too much fun and I think it’s something more courses should consider.
Other holes that were considered: none
Hopefully, you enjoyed that as much as I did.
In all honesty, I probably could have made this list ten different ways, but where’s the fun in that? I wanted to mix it up, put in some constraints and see what happens. This was way more fun than I thought it would be and I loved the interaction the list caused on Instagram, it would be great to continue here now that there’s more content to discuss. I think it’s a great list, but I’d love to have your thoughts on my Vegas 18.
Leave a comment below and lets debate, chat or just have some fun talking about golf.