Desert- and resort-style golf design mix at Mesquite's Conestoga Golf Club
MESQUITE, Nev. -- Welcome to Conestoga Golf Club where desert-style shot making and resort-style lush conditioning intertwine beautifully.
At Conestoga, the newest golf course in Mesquite, Nev., Gary Panks has designed a course that will test golfers' courage as well as their swings. And it's being noticed by more and more golfers and golf publications.
"The course has been ranked by GolfWeek as No. 11 in all of Nevada as 'One of the Best You Can Play' and by GOLF Magazine as one of the 'Best Trips,'" said Rob Krieger, director of golf at Conestoga.
Early on, this 7,232-yard masterpiece is target-style golf at its finest. The par-3 second hole, playing 188 yards from the tips, drops some 100 feet from tee to green making club selection difficult if there's any breeze.
Adding to the test is the fact the green is an island on three sides with the green perched above the desert outcroppings. The good news is there is bailout area short-right. Par here is a good score, and if you manage to put a birdie on the card, pat yourself on the back.
Then get ready for the first of many thought-provoking holes: The par-4 third. It's not a long hole at just 403 yards, but there is plenty of challenge.
"The hole that always captures my attention and makes me focus is No. 3," Krieger said. "It is probably the most difficult because of the degree of difficulty off the tee and because of the intimidating desert carry and narrow fairway."
On approach, the kidney-shaped green is strategically located behind a bunker and in front on a desert mountain, so club selection is critical.
"People just say wow after playing those early holes for the first time," Krieger said. "In fact, many want to go back out for another crack at them with a replay round."
The ninth is a sweeping par 5 that stretches to a jaw-dropping 595 yards. Bunkers must be avoided off the tee to set up a layup shot (only if you're a really, really big hitter can you think of getting home in two). A wedge into this green guarded by a huge pond on the left can set players up for a finishing birdie.
That gets golfers set for the back nine, complete with impressive elevation changes, wide fairways and challenging green configurations. The back opens with a par 3 that's as beautiful as it is tough.
A deep-blue pond guards the left side of the green, and the further back golfers play the hole, the more of the pond players must deal with. Add in a scenic waterfall, and you've got a picture-perfect postcard hole. Rolling fairways, towering rock formations, white-sand bunkers and undulating greens all add up to an impressive back nine that compliments a front nine wonderfully.
The 17th hole is one of the top holes on the back nine. At 423 yards, this par 4 isn't overly long. But the fairway runs out at about 250 yards as a rock-filled wash cuts across the fairway and must be avoided at all costs.
Hitting over it is not an option (unless your day job is with the RE/MAX long driver crowd), so lay up to a comfortable distance and then go flag-hunting.
Conestoga Golf Club: In the clubhouse
The clubhouse, home to the 1880 Grille, whisks players (and guests just looking for a fine-dining experience) back in time with its Wild West ambiance and character.
"It's a great place to relax and enjoy the stories of the day in true pioneer fashion," Krieger said. "The clubhouse and restaurant have the ambiance of an old farmhouse. The natural wood beam and rusting metal roof fit perfectly in the pioneer theme."
Burgers, chicken sandwiches, wraps and other assorted dining treats await as well as your favorite cold beverages.
And if you're playing the course for the first time, make sure to buy a yardage book. You'll have a much better time, and your score (and supply of golf balls) will thank you.
Conestoga Golf Club: The verdict
If you're looking for variety in your golf game, you'll get it -- and so much more -- in just one round.
"Conestoga is a great golf course for any skill level," Krieger said. "With five sets of tees, everyone can enjoy the course and experience a different and challenging course every time out."
There are also great views with the natural setting of canyons, washes, mountains and scenic vistas as backdrops. This is a must-play course that delivers a great golf experience.