A Las Vegas golf binge: You can play 57 holes in one day at Angel Park Golf Club
LAS VEGAS -- This is a town that knows a thing or two about benders.
I've had enough late nights-turned-early-mornings on the Las Vegas Strip, stumbling out of whatever casino squinty-eyed and confused, realizing the sun has come up and I've yet to wind down. I've watched friends sit down at poker tables in the afternoon and not see them again until the security line at McCarran International Airport on Sunday night.
Las Vegas has a way of tugging incessantly at the little voice of restraint in your head. But if there was ever a safe way to indulge in Vegas (no, it's not the $9.99 buffets), make a day out of golf at the Angel Park Golf Club. There's plenty to go around.
Angel Park is one of Vegas' most all-encompassing facilities and a workhorse for regular local play as well as visitors. Locals love the lit driving range and par-3 course that stay open well past sunset, the affordability of the two full-length golf courses and the "528 Tuesday" night patio parties, complete with live music and a reputable food-and-beverage operation.
But for visitors, there's plenty of allure too. Angel Park offers an "All-In" package that caters to those in town wanting to golf on a whim, providing golf clubs, two sleeves of golf balls, 18-hole replay and more.
The facility has a courtesy passenger van that can be requested upon booking, and it picked up our rag-tag bunch across the street at the JW Marriott in the morning and delivered us to its new "VIP arrivals" lounge, which let us skip the pro shop and enjoy check-in at our own pace with a concierge. Beverages and light snacks were provided.
As we got ready, a group of tourists, none of whom looked like they'd ever hit a golf ball before, were challenging each other on the Putting Course, which is full of waterfalls, bunkers and huge swales. The Putting Course looked tough and we preferred to not to get stuck behind them, so we opted for a leisurely breakfast in the clubhouse and then made our way to the Mountain Course.
Angel Park Golf Club's Palm, Mountain and Cloud Nine Courses
Both 18-hole courses are Arnold Palmer signature designs, built in the era when he was with associate Ed Seay. They deliver scenic vistas of the nearby mountains as well as plenty of on-course beautification. With no residential component attached to this piece of acreage in the Summerlin development, home to such casinos as Suncoast and JW Marriott, golfers get desert scenery without any surrounding backyards.
We all put tee balls in the air on the par-4 opener of Angel Park's Mountain Course, a gentle dogleg right played to an elevated green. Most holes on the Mountain are framed with rolling, native desert areas that were recently added during the Great Un-Turfing of Las Vegas several years ago, when local tax credits aimed at reducing water costs lured most golf courses and homes to rip up any unnecessary grass in favor of native fauna.
The result is playing corridors that are still wide enough to usually hit driver, and you'll need them on long holes like the par-5 second or one of the six par 4s that play more than 400 yards from the back tees.
Between rounds on the full-length 18s, we treated ourselves to a quick skins game on the par-3 Cloud Nine Course. It's walkable (we actually snuck out in front of a junior league). But in the interest of conserving energy (read: walking allows an easy way to keep a cooler of bevvies handy), we zipped around the loop in carts, which didn't take longer than an hour.
During the daytime, Cloud Nine has 12-hole routing, none stretching more than 150 yards. Designed by Bob Cupp, each green complex loosely resembles a famous one somewhere around the world. It doesn't take a golf aficionado to recognize where the fourth hole, a delicate 91-yard downhill pitch shot to a small green surrounded with traps, nicknamed "Monterey Peninsula" on the scorecard, comes from. The island-green 10th hole is named after TPC Sawgrass, but with its perimeter lined with rock walls instead of the wood bulkheads, it resembles Pete Dye's "Alcatraz" in La Quinta even more.
At night, floodlights illuminate an abbreviated nine-hole version of Cloud Nine. The course takes tee times late into the summer night to accommodate late-shifters and the date-night crowd.
Having finished 30 holes by 3:30 p.m., we still had plenty of daylight to sneak in another 18 hole on Angel Park's Palm Course. Originally designed by Palmer and Seay, it was altered to make room for Cloud Nine (designed by Bob Cupp and John Fought) in 1993.
The result is a little different flow than the Mountain. It plays a little wider and greener, with a little less desert influence. The greens seem easier to hit and aren't sloping as the Mountain, where it's best to stay below the hole regularly.
Since originally opening, the Palm has been reduced to a par 34 on the front nine, making it a par 70 in total. Two downwind par 5s on the back nine, as well as a nearly drivable par 4, gave us ample opportunities to catch a hot streak and go home a winner. Our group putted out on our 48th and final hole of the day at 7:30 p.m., still enough light to illuminate the neighboring red rock mountains, and the Vegas night was young.
Angel Park Golf Club: The verdict
Las Vegas has a crowded golf scene, but there's no mistaking Angel Park. No facility in town does the game quite like it, thanks to a variety of ways to enjoy the game. The food-and-beverage operation is also quite good, especially if you can find an open table on the outdoor patio.