Stay on target at Badlands Golf Club in Las Vegas

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- Golf is a simple game: Hit the ball from Point A to Point B. No problem. But sometimes there's a bad swing, and the ball winds up at Point C -- wide of the fairway. Missing left or right usually isn't that big of a problem on many courses.

Badlands Golf Club
Badlands offers some of Las Vegas' most challenging golf.
Badlands Golf ClubBadlands Golf Club - Diablo Course - 2ndBadlands Golf Club - Diablo Course - 1stOutlaw Course at Badlands GC - 9thBadlands Golf Club - clubhouse

Well, Badlands Golf Club isn't like many courses.

The Johnny Miller/Chi Chi Rodriguez-designed layout will test every aspect of a golfer's game -- but most importantly, it will test accuracy, especially off the tee.

Look up "target golf" in the dictionary, and chances are you'll find a photo of this 27-hole course. Narrow ribbons of fairway that come precariously close to desert landscaping and ravines mixed in with bunker-guarded greens are the main reason some players have a love/hate relationship with this course.

"It's definitely a course where players should scale back," General Manager Dustin Flatt said. "Make sure you're on the right set of tees, and make sure you pick a club that you can hit the fairway with, and you'll have plenty of challenge."

Grab your clubs, and head to the first tee with an open mind. You'll not only find a dynamic, playable course, you'll also find it very enjoyable.

Badlands Golf Club: On the course

The three nines at Badlands Golf Club -- Desperado, Diablo and Outlaw -- all have that Western-type flair of an old-fashioned gunslinger shootout. It's you against the course. Who's going to blink first?

But the good news is that players will find scoring chances on the first hole of each nine. All three opening holes are par 4s that are less than 400 yards in length -- and that's from the tips. As with many holes on this course, driver isn't always the choice. It's a strategy course, pure and simple. Pick a club that will let you find the fairway and leave you with a mid-to-short iron into the green, and you'll have a chance to open the round with a birdie.

"It's a tough course for a high handicapper like me," said Scott Geer, celebrating his birthday with a round. "I shot a 97, but there were probably a few more strokes. It's a true desert course and target golf, and it's a whole lot of fun when I hit the target areas ... I just need to hit the targets a few more times to lower my scores."

There are also plenty of risk/reward holes on each nine that can give players a look at birdie (or even eagle) -- especially the par 5s.

The second on the Desperado (523 yards from the tips), the eighth on the Diablo (551 yards) and the ninth on the Outlaw (515 yards) are all reachable in two for many hitters. But there are pitfalls. On the Desperado second, the hole is a dogleg right with a forced carry over the desert. Cut off too much of the dogleg, and you're in trouble. Short of the green is an arroyo that must also be avoided.

On the Diablo eighth, there are two arroyos slicing through the fairway -- one off the tee, and one with the second shot. Again, hitting the fairway is a must if players are looking for scoring opportunities.

On the ninth at the Outlaw, it's water that will come into play -- both off the tee and with the second shot. Hit a tee shot too far (or too straight as a fade is necessary), and you're wet. With the second shot (if players go for the green), left is in the water. There is a bailout area right and long, so take that into consideration with your plan of attack.

Overall, this is the epitome of a desert course, with just enough water to add to the challenge.

"The main reason I keep coming back is because it's always a challenge for me," Geer said. "And I really like the looks of the course."

Badlands Golf Club: Off the course

The spacious clubhouse welcomes players and offers a wide variety of food options for as many as 200 people.

So whether it's a wedding, an office gathering or any other special occasion, the staff will ensure your day comes off without a hitch -- and that includes wonderful menu options with a variety of meal choices.

In the Badlands pro shop, there's a wide variety of clothing choices and those little knick knacks you may need for the round.

Badlands Golf Club: The verdict

This one's simple: Badlands is 27 holes of target golf. If that's not your cup of tea, so be it. But if you're looking for a golf course that will challenge your game and your course management skills, this one fits the bill.

"It's definitely a fair course," Flatt said. "You just have to be smart from tee to green."

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

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