Scenic, challenging Coyote Springs Golf Club northeast of Las Vegas is well worth the drive

By Katharine Dyson, Special Contributor

COYOTE SPRINGS, Nev. -- About 50 miles north of Las Vegas and 35 mile southwest of Mesquite, Nev., you take a hard turn west off Rt. 15, seemingly in the middle of absolutely nowhere, to arrive at Coyote Springs Golf Club.

18 Holes | Resort | Par: 72 | 7471 yards
Coyote Springs Golf Club - 2nd hole
Bunkers and water guard the green on hole no. 2 at Coyote Springs Golf Club.
Coyote Springs Golf Club - 2nd holeCoyote Springs Golf Club - 9th holeCoyote Springs Golf Club - 16th holeCoyote Springs golf course - 18th hole

Emerging like a mirage in the hauntingly beautiful Pahranagat Valley, the vistas are huge, magnificent, with the reds, mauves, ochers and purples of the distant mountains framing the low-lying sage, yucca, cacti and pebble-strewn arroyos that spread out across a sandy landscape for what looks like forever.

Opened in 2008, this Jack Nicklaus Signature Course was designed as the centerpiece of a 67-acre desert community. Given the economic climate, the residential component has yet to materialize, so for the time being what you get is an exceptional, superbly maintained course, a temporary but adequate clubhouse and a competent, eager-to-please staff. You will not be disappointed you made the drive from Vegas go to tee up at Coyote Springs. The golf course is that good.

Arrive early to take advantage of Coyote Springs Golf Club's enormous 19-acre practice facility with more than 100,000 square feet of tee area, a 10,000-square-foot practice green, 13 target greens and a short-game area for pitching, chipping and bunker practice.

Coyote Springs: The course

We suggest you pick a day when the wind is not lashing up a frenzy. The firm, diabolically fast greens are tricky enough without a sudden gust nudging your ball off line. Even on a calm day, your green-reading skills will be tested with some wicked undulations across large surface areas. Greens are divided into quadrants. Depending on what kind of mood the greens keeper was in when setting the holes, you could be looking at trick or treat: We'd bet on trick.

Best advice, Coyote Springs Director of Golf Karl Larcom said, is to, "Focus on your approach shot to the right quadrant and try to be below the hole."

You need to land in the right place or your putt may roll back to your feet. This also means you need to think about where to hit your drive in order to set up the best approach. Many greens are angled and feature false fronts, as on hole no. 14, so check out your GPS or yardage book before hitting. Or play with a local.

"There are not many spots where the course lets up," Larcom said. "After the second hole, you gotta grind." Several drives require carries over native areas

The close to 120 bunkers are not the finely cut shapes you find on many resort courses but feature snarly edges and narrow fingers of fluffy white sand. Land in a complex such as on no. 11 where bunkers, or "bear tracks," never let up from tee to green, and either you succeed in executing an excellent shot out or you could be looking at a bogey or more. On this hole, you need to dig deep to find a safe approach.

As you play, you'll seldom see players on other holes, further emphasizing a sense of wide-open spaces. Mounds help to funnel arrant shots to the fairways, and shallow arroyos capture additional strays, while the landing surfaces that at times resemble washboards often reflect the contours of the surrounding terrain. Uneven lies? You bet.

On Coyote Springs, water in this desert environment is not a mirage. Eleven lakes are real and very clear with springs tumbling over rock outcroppings adding to the oasis-like ambiance, such as on hole no. 11, requiring a carry over water.

Locals will tell you the golf course follows the valley and moves toward Mesquite. Thus it may seem like you are putting uphill, but that is where the real mirage sets in. For example, hole 13 fights gravity. Just be aware of the flow of the valley and where you are in relation to Mesquite. It helps.

Although playing from "no-way" at 7,471 yards from the tips is a real test for low handicappers, four tee boxes make it quite reasonable for shorter hitters, including women who typically play the course at 5,288 yards.

Coyote Springs Golf Club: The verdict

The course is definitely a "go." When you find yourself within driving distance of Coyote Springs, make the trip to play it. It delivers a refreshing layout and is clearly a standout in the area. The par 4s are some of the best you'll find in the vast Nevada desert, and the course couldn't be in better shape. Choose your tee wisely, avoid brutally windy days and look forward to a great day in the middle of nowhere.

"Loved it," said Glen Turk, golf writer from Wisconsin. "The view from hole no. 7 is spectacular. It's a big-boy track." He's not alone.

Coyote Springs has received numerous accolades included in "America's Greatest Public Golf Courses" by Golf Digest (2011), "Top Best Residential Courses" by Golfweek (2010), "Best New Courses You Can Play" by Golf (2008) and "Top New Courses in the World" by Travel & Leisure (2009). Fairways & Greens also called Coyote Springs the "Best Desert Course" (2010).

Katharine DysonKatharine Dyson, Special Contributor

Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.

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