Cascata: Golf at its finest near Las Vegas
BOULDER CITY, Nev. -- Prepare to be pampered beyond your wildest golfing dreams.
At Cascata, you're a member for a day, treated to amazing amenities, a world-class golf course and a staff that overlooks no details. From the time you roll up to the clubhouse until you leave, you'll feel like the most important player at the facility.
And to the staff at Cascata, you are.
They'll greet you by name and offer a guided a tour of this Rees Jones design -– as close to heaven as exists on a golf course. After all, it's located high atop a mountain near Las Vegas, with views almost as stunning as the golf holes.
And what golf holes these are. The par-71, 7,137-yard layout features 18 beauties that take players on a ride over, around and through a mountainside with brilliant, green strands of fairway laid out to perfection.
But wait, even before visitors set foot on that first tee, Cascata offers so much more in the clubhouse. As you walk through the front doors -- so huge they swing open in a castle-like fashion -- your senses go on alert.
First, you'll hear the rush of water. Look right to see a stream. Cascata, after all, is Italian for waterfall. The stream rushes past, starting at the top of the mountain above the driving range, and it cascades through the clubhouse to add a calming influence.
You'll find your locker in the luxurious locker room -- complete with your name etched on a keepsake plaque. Catch the latest scores or stock quotes on the large TVs scattered throughout as you tie your shoes and get ready for Cascata.
"This is definitely a great layout," said Ken Wright, head golf professional at Cascata. "When you're on the golf course, you don't see other golf holes or players. It's almost like you have the facility to yourself."
Players stroll down the steps to the staging area and climb into their carts, ready to head through another set of huge doors and into heaven's version of the warm-up area. The huge practice facility sits at the base of the mountain as the stream flows gently in the background.
Work with the flat stick on a couple practice greens. Then it's time find your caddie and head to the first tee.
Plain and simple, it's showtime. Jones' design unfolds one dramatic twist after another. Holes gently turn left and right, rising and falling with just enough water and sand to add to the beauty -- and the test.
While it's tough isolate the best holes, a few certainly grab your attention from the tee box.
Cascata's par-3 seventh hole provides a prime example of great golf architecture. The tee shot is all carry over a canyon to a green guarded further by bunkers and a pond. As visually stunning as it is intimidating, No. 7 makes club selection a challenge -- especially if there's any breeze.
One big tip here: Always listen to your caddie. They've been around this track hundreds of times and know every nuance on the course.
On a recent round, I read a putt with about one foot of break, but the caddie gently guided my aiming point 15 feet right. The result? A birdie that certainly would have missed by a mile without his read.
The 14th offers a setting as picturesque as any golf hole in Vegas. It unfolds from the tee, with plenty of room left, though a stream feeds a deep-blue, glass-like pond on the right. Hit the center of the fairway and you'll face a mid-iron shot into this green, but don't fall short or the false front will send shots rolling into the pond.
Jones definitely saved his best for last. Cascata's monstrous, 559-yard, par-5 closer ranks as a definite three-shot hole -- unless you're the biggest of hitters, playing from the forward tees and take your tee shot over a mountain.
Each shot on No. 18 hole requires players to avoid water. A stream sits left off the tee, and a pond on the right can play havoc with the second shot and the approach. Keep it dry, and you'll have a chance to finish your round with a birdie.
"Once people play the course, they definitely want to come back," Wright said. "It's just a great golf experience with the course, the river flowing through the clubhouse and all the amenities."
In the clubhouse
The 27,000-square-foot clubhouse is stylish. A menu that's second to none awaits before or after the round, and there's a cigar lounge in which to unwind with a drink and tell tales of the round that was — or could have been.
Cascata: The verdict
If you're not excited to play Cascata, give up golf now. You'll be pampered like never before on a golf course, and the fairways and greens are always immaculate.
"With PGA Tour-quality conditions and all the amenities Cascata has for players," Wright said, "it's just a must-play."
May 13, 2010