Making the Cut

Beauty abounds as we look at nine of the finest golf holes in the Valley

If eyes were made for seeing, then Beauty is its own excuse for being. 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

What can keep the masses enthralled with the escape of golf is sometimes not just the ecstasy of that one fleeting great shot, but the opportunity to walk with the beauty and solitude of a course. And here in Las Vegas, there is plenty of golf majesty to keep us all engaged in the grand old game.

So with that, we give you nine of Las Vegas’ most beautiful holes, accented by a clubhouse to rival the city’s slickest architecture. And please understand that slimming the list to nine was akin to going 3-under par on Amen Corner at Augusta during the Masters.

Cascata Clubhouse: A round always begins and ends with a visit to the clubhouse, and mostly that time is just a mere afterthought. But at Cascata, the environs signal that this golf experience is anything but average. Large doors open to reveal a flowing river, splitting the clubhouse between the restaurant/bar, and the pro shop and lavish locker rooms. Nineteenth hole? Yes, but to the 10th power. Architect: Rees Jones.

Shadow Creek (par 3, 164-yard 17th): This par 3 is said to be Michael Jordan’s favorite, so who are we to argue? The hole is tucked in the shadows of mature pine trees, plus it’s guarded nicely by water. And it comes with an urban legend that the deceased dolphins from The Mirage habitat are buried in the hillside overlooking the green. Architects: Tom Fazio and Steve Wynn.

Bali Hai Golf Club (par 3, 141-yard 16th hole): This hole rests in perfect view of the guests on the patio of a beautiful clubhouse. A lagoon-like water feature surrounds the short-but-challenging hole. A moment that adds nicely is that Playboy Playmate Lisa Dergan once sprawled—blond hair flowing—on the green during a cover shoot for VegasGolfer. Architects: Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley.

Rio Secco Golf Club, 11th hole.

Rio Secco Golf Club (par 4, 478-yard 11th): It was abundantly clear that this hole would zoom to the top of the unofficial best holes in Las Vegas list when it opened. It hasn’t disappointed because the tee boxes are enclosed by native rock walls before the hole unfolds, doglegging right with a view of the Las Vegas Valley painting the background. Architect: Rees Jones.

TPC Summerlin (par 3, 196-yard 17th): This hole provides annual drama during the PGA Tour’s Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Water guards left, bunkers right, and views of the city are prevalent. During tournament week, fans watch from “The Hill” with drinks in hand as the best either crumble or overcome this hole. Architect: Bobby Weed with Raymond Floyd.

Primm Valley Golf Club (par 5, 530-yard 2nd): You never can go wrong adding a hole by course designer Tom Fazio to your list, and this par 5, which wraps around a large lake, is a no-brainer. Mountains in the distance cap it, but perfectly placed bunkers and a large green make this dogleg left an experience. Architect: Tom Fazio.

Snow Mountain, Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (par 3, 198-yard 16th): There are three lavish golf courses at Paiute, but this hole sits atop the leaderboard for us. A small green is decorated by a lake and bunkers while the Sheep Mountains are the aiming point. Architect: Pete Dye.

Legacy Golf Club, 10th hole.

Legacy Golf Club (par 3, 193-yard 10th): As far as we’re concerned, any list of golf holes has to include this one for sheer devotion to the Las Vegas theme. Each tee box here is shaped in a card suit, but other beauty includes native vegetation and an undulating green. Architect: Arthur Hills.

Bear’s Best Las Vegas (par 3, 229-yard 4th): This makes the list as part of the tapestry that is Bear’s Best. The course is made up of 18 of Jack Nicklaus’ favorite holes from courses he has designed. Old Works in Montana comes to life here, complete with black slag bunkers. Views complete the beauty. Architect: Jack Nicklaus.

Southern Highlands Golf Club (par 3, 214-yard 17th): “Like the 17th hole at Shadow Creek, Southern Highland’s penultimate hole is gorgeous and daunting, with a beautiful reflecting pond fronting the green and more than a dozen species of plants and flowers accenting the water features,” says local golf author and member Jack Sheehan. “If your round hasn’t been ruined by the score you make on this postcard hole, take a moment and look backwards to the tee and absorb the moment and beauty.” Architect: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr.

And as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so grab the sticks and start to behold.

Suggested Next Read

Running on Green

The Local Newsroom

Running on Green

As Americans are reminded of yet another consequence of the country’s dependence on oil, a large and influential group of consumers and national energy experts will meet in Las Vegas to decide the future of fuel consumption. The era of oil is ending, says Annalloyd Thomason, director for the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Institute, an entrepreneurial organization for alternative fuels and vehicles.