The Breakfast Ball Ranks The Golf Courses of Las Vegas

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Henderson, NV  – March 6th 2013

There’s nothing I love more than when a publication puts out a list that pertains to Las Vegas Golf. Why? Well there are a couple of reasons, the first being how I love to read about the courses that I have played and still play. It’s awesome when you get to see all the wonderful courses while you flip through said periodicals and when it’s a Las Vegas issue I feel even more connected to the content, almost like they made it just for me.

The other reason is the Devil on the shoulder to the Angel that spoke in the previous paragraph. I love it when those periodicals are wrong. I know it’s a bit egotistical, but I think with my Resume as a lifelong resident of this Valley that my opinion at least holds some value when I talk about the courses in this town. How they place some courses so high and others go unmentioned is beyond me.

There are still a few courses out there that I haven’t played, just a few, so this Vegas Course Ratings isn’t exactly 100% scientific, but hey I serious doubt the travel editors of all the big magazines that have done a Vegas Course Rating issue have slummed at some of the dogs in this town like I have.

All of the courses I have not played yet can be viewed on my Vegas Bucket list and of the 66 courses that I know of and have listed for this ranking, I’ve made my way around 34 of them and I’m not counting some of the courses that are no longer in operation. Those 34 courses are what I’m ranking and as I play the others I have yet to play,  I’ll add them into the rankings.

With a little under half of the course played you might be wondering why I’m choosing now to do this ranking and not wait until I get to play some more on the list. Here’s a little breakdown that might help explain it.

Of the 32 courses that I have yet to play, five of them are private; Southern Highlands, TPC Summerlin, Anthem Country Club, Las Vegas Country Club & Red Rock Country Club. I’ve been lucky so far and have played a few of the private las Vegas courses but I don’t foresee myself making it out to any of these anytime soon. Taking that into consideration, there are 27 courses remaining. Two of them are considered VERY high end ($500+) they are the Wynn Golf Club and Shadow Creek. As much as I would like to say that I’m going to be playing either one of these great courses anytime soon, it’s just not in the budget right now, so they’re going to have to wait a bit.

A few others in that higher level, but not insane, are Cascata, Wolf Creek, TPC Las Vegas, Bears Best & Bali Hai. I am going to get a few of these knocked off of my list year, the others are going to be placed on the waiting to be play list. You can start ripping me now for never playing some of these yet. I get mad at myslef often for not making it out to Wolf Creek.  I constantly hear it all the time from locals and tourist who are just shocked I haven’t played at Wolf Creek or Cascata. “But you live out here?” They liken it to being a Monterey resident and not playing Pebble Beach or living in North Carolina and never playing Pinehurst. The good news is Cascata is happening for me in April. The others, like I said, are just going to have to wait.

I could be easily said that the majority of those courses previously mentioned would rank in the top 15 of Las Vegas Courses, which is one of the reasons I went ahead and did these rankings.

With those last 5 taken out, the list narrows down to 20 courses. Ten of those 20 are out in Mesquite or Laughlin and while I do plan on getting to a few of them, they’re not on the top of my list to be played anytime soon. From the remaining 10 three of them are Executive courses and even though there is an executive course in my rankings I don’t have plans on playing on any of them unless my wife decides she is going to pick up the game and start playing some or until my daughter is ready for them. Until then, they’re just going to have to wait to be ranked.

That whittles the number down to seven and out of those seven courses two of them are at Paiute where I have played the Sun course. I’ve been told by many people that the Sun and Snow courses are fairly similar and that the Wolf course is far superior. Needless to say Wolf is on the top of my “Must play list” That leaves only 6 courses that I have not played that I plan on getting a round in sometime this year. They are:

  • 1)      Boulder Creek
  • 2)      Highland Falls
  • 3)      Painted Desert
  • 4)      Sienna
  • 5)      Stallion Mountain
  • 6)      Wolf at Paiute

Let’s get to the rankings!

I’m going to divide the list up into three sections or three posts. The last 12 on this post followed by the next twelve and then the top 10.

So without any further ado

THE LAST TWELVE:

  • #34 – North Las Vegas Par 3 Course
  • #33 – Angel Park Golf Club – Cloud 9 Par 3 Course
  • #32 – Desert Willow Golf Course
  • #31 – Las Vegas Golf Club
  • #30 – Desert Rose Golf Course
  • #29 – Palm Valley Golf Club
  • #28 – Sunrise Vista Golf Club
  • #27 – Desert Pines Golf Club
  • #26 – Angel Park Golf Club – Palm Course
  • #25 – Black Mountain Country Club
  • #24 – Boulder City Municipal Golf Course
  • #23 – Aliante Golf Course

Keep in mind a Par 3 course will never be ahead of an executive course in my rankings and same goes for an executive course, it will never be ranked above a Par 70 or higher course. Technically the real course ratings start at #31

Some of you locals that are reading this might be shocked at my blasphemy for listing Angel Park not only ONCE, but TWICE in my last twelve. How Angel Park tops our local papers “BEST OF Las Vegas” list every year is beyond me. Being overpriced & overbooked makes it an easy choice for me to place in the last twelve. Even though it’s a nice course that’s player friendly, the clout it receives is still somewhat of a mystery to me. Now, what should shock everyone is the course in the 27th spot, Desert Pines. I wanted that course to be so much more than what it was. Truth be told what it boiled down to was an overpriced tourist trap that just isn’t worthy of being mentioned when you talk about Las Vegas golf. Tourists beware there is so much better golf to be played in Las Vegas.
In part two of my Las Vegas Golf Course Rankings you start to see some of the more recognizable courses in the Valley. It’s in this middle section where you’ll find the courses that I frequent more often than the others and that has a lot to do with affordability.  These middle tier courses genuinely have the better rates for locals and you’ll find the rewards club type promotions that are extinct from the higher end facilities.

This section was a little tougher to rank than I thought it was going to be. The selection of the courses wasn’t that difficult, there is a clear seperation between these courses and the top ten, but it was their placement on the list where I ran into the most trouble. I tried to look at it from the perspective of if I was given a free round at course A vs. course B which one would I choose to play. That theory worked out for me and that’s mainly how I was able to put this portion together.

Here are the rankings for courses 22 thru 11:
•#34 – North Las Vegas Par 3 Course
•#33 – Angel Park Golf Club – Cloud 9 Par 3 Course
•#32 – Desert Willow Golf Course
•#31 – Las Vegas Golf Club
•#30 – Desert Rose Golf Course
•#29 – Palm Valley Golf Club
•#28 – Sunrise Vista Golf Club
•#27 – Desert Pines Golf Club
•#26 – Angel Park Golf Club – Palm Course
•#25 – Black Mountain Country Club
•#24 – Boulder City Municipal Golf Course
•#23 – Aliante Golf Course
•#22 – Badlands Golf Club
•#21 – Wildhorse Golf Club
•#20 – Silverstone Golf Club
•#19 – Angel Park Golf Club – Mountain Course
•#18 – Rhodes Ranch Golf Club
•#17 – Tuscany Golf Club
•#16 – The Revere Golf Club – Concord Course
•#15 – Royal Links Golf Club
•#14 – Red Rock Country Club – Arroyo Course
•#13 – Spanish Trail Country Club(Private)
•#12 – Canyon Gate County Club(Private)
•#11 – The Revere Golf Club – Lexington Course
Not a lot of surprises here in my opinion. To be fair I have heard that Canyon Gate has gone through a dramatic transformation and the changes are supposed to be a huge improvement. It was several years ago when I played there last and I’m doing my best to get back out and see the changes, but being a private course it may take a little time.

Spanish Trails is the first Private course to make the list. I played out there in January of this year on a VERY breezy 33° day and that probably hurt them a little on this ranking. There are 27 holes at Spanish Trails and we played just 18 of them that Sunday. One course was in ok shape while the other was fantastic. That was a surprise to me, how you can have two different nines at the same facility play so unlike each other was not something I was expecting at a private course. Had I just played the worse of the two Spanish Trail would have been a lot further down on the list for sure!

The Revere out in Henderson is a course that in my opinion doesn’t get enough credit, there are 36 holes on two very challenging tracks that offer some very dramatic views of the Las Vegas Valley. The Lexington course is their baby and better of the two courses while the Concord course has some crazy elevation changes and from the tips it plays at 7,069 yards and is rated 73.3/151. It’s difficult to say the least. They have one of the best practice areas in town with two very large putting greens and two short game areas that I try to take advantage of as much as possible.  The 19th hole at Revere is a fantastic place to relax after your round. The elevated restaurant looks over the entire valley and it’s breathtaking, the food is really good too. Locals can get an incredibly good rate and the course caters to the seniors in the area offering discounts for the residents. They also give a great discount to casino employees, not that there are any of those folks around here.

The next post in this three part series will be my Top ten Vegas courses that I have played. There’s bound to be a shocker or two.

Feel free to chime in and leave a comment if you agree or better yet if you think I’m way off. Nothing beats a good debate!

Here is the final courses on the list:

  • #34 – North Las Vegas Par 3 Course
  • #33 – Angel Park Golf Club – Cloud 9 Par 3 Course
  • #32 – Desert Willow Golf Course
  • #31 – Las Vegas Golf Club
  • #30 – Desert Rose Golf Course
  • #29 – Palm Valley Golf Club
  • #28 – Sunrise Vista Golf Club
  • #27 – Desert Pines Golf Club
  • #26 – Angel Park Golf Club – Palm Course
  • #25 – Black Mountain Country Club
  • #24 – Boulder City Municipal Golf Course
  • #23 – Aliante Golf Course
  • #22 – Badlands Golf Club
  • #21 – Wildhorse Golf Club
  • #20 – Silverstone Golf Club
  • #19 – Angel Park Golf Club – Mountain Course
  • #18 – Rhodes Ranch Golf Club
  • #17 – Tuscany Golf Club
  • #16 – The Revere Golf Club – Concord Course
  • #15 – Royal Links Golf Club
  • #14 – Red Rock Country Club – Arroyo Course
  • #13 – Spanish Trail Country Club (Private)
  • #12 – Canyon Gate County Club (Private)
  • #11 – The Revere Golf Club – Lexington Course
  • #10 – Legacy Golf Club
  • #9 –  Primm Valley Golf Club – Lakes Course
  • #8 –  Primm Valley Golf Club – Desert Course
  • #7 –  Las Vegas National Golf Club
  • #6 –  Pauite Golf Resort – Sun Course
  • #5 –  DragonRidge Country Club (Private)
  • #4 –  Conestoga Golf Club
  • #3 –  The Chase at Coyote Springs
  • #2 –  The Club at South Shore (Private)
  • #1 –  Rio Secco Golf Club

 

Rio Secco Golf Club

When I first finalized my list I actually had South Shore ahead of Rio Secco, and it killed me to do so, but after much thought though I’ve come to realize that Rio Secco is something special and it has something that South Shore can compete with and that’s is the views of the Las Vegas Valley. Be it the first hole, the tee boxes on numbers three, eleven and eighteen the views of the Valley are spectacular. Besides there is a reason one of the most prestigious coaches in the game, Butch Harmon, call Rio Secco home. The entire facily from the clubhouse to the practice area to the course itself is golf heaven.

From the moment you arrive at Rio Secco you can tell the place has class and style. The pro shop is arguably the nicest one in town and the staff is over the top friendly and it just gets better from there. They have two very large chipping and putting areas and a top not practice range complete with bathrooms that are REAL bathrooms just steps from the hitting area, a snack bar and always a very professional starter.

If the aesthetics and amenities were not enough you then get blown away with an amazing Rees Jones Designed golf course that winds through canyons has some dramatic elevation changes and will challenge even the best golfers in the world. Out of all the courses listed Rio Secco had by far the best green I’ve ever putted on. It’s real easy to make the climate in Las Vegas an excuse for poor greens but at Rio Secco there is no need, the greens are perfect.

If you’re planning a trip to visit this fine golf mecca, ok mecca might be a bit of a stretch, be sure to add Rio Secco to your list of places you must play. I guarantee you’ll have a great time.

NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED:

There are a few courses in my top ten that may surprise you. The first one more than likely is Legacy Golf Club. Legacy is a very unrated course in my opinion. It’s set right dead smack in the middle of Green Valley, which years ago meant a lot more than it does now, and is very challenging course. It’s a lot more of a locals course than the tourist type places that are redundant in the valley. It’s not over the top in any way, it has a great practice area and like I said previously the course is really challenging.

The other course that my bend some heads sideways is an perplexed manner is Las Vegas National Golf Club. This place is near and dear to my heart and goes way back into my golfing background. The Las Vegas Invitational used to be played here and there was a reason it left a lot of the PGA guys scratching their heads. Talk about a difficult course to make your way around. Las Vegas National is a Las Vegas legend in my opinion. It’s an old style layout that has been around for a long time and back in Vegas’s hey day, I’m talking the Rat Pack days, Las Vegas National, formerly know as the Stardust Country Club, was THE course in town. It has some famous ties to it as well. There’s a certain player that goes by the name of Tiger Woods that just happened to earn his first PGA Tour victory when Las Vegas National was in the rotation. I was working at the course during the time of that historic win and Mr. Woods was the only player that week that played a second practice round at Las Vegas National before the tournament started. He was well aware of how tough a course it was and still is.

So there you have it. The Breakfast Ball’s Top 34 courses in Las Vegas.

Like I mentioned before I’ll be adding to the list as I play more of the courses so be sure to check out the Bucket List page where I’ve added a tab for the Rankings.

Hopefully you enjoyed this and if anything I opened your eyes up to a few places that you might not have been aware of. As always if you think I’m nuts, dead wrong and complete off my rocker let me know by leaving a comment. I’d love to get into a debate.

Follow Mathew Wangrycht:

Writer and founder of the golf blog The Breakfast Ball. My wife will tell you I'm obsessed with the game, she's right! It's that obsession which drives me to become a better player and make this site enjoyable for everyone.

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