Black Mountain gets construction finished early

By Kevin Fiddler, Contributor

HENDERSON, Nev. - At the end of last year, Black Mountain Golf and Country Club opened a third nine-hole course that was very different from its original 18 and that could be part of major changes to come at this semi-private club.

"The difference in the new nine is the fact that it's a true desert layout," said Tony Lawson, director of golf and operations.

The target-style nine, called the Desert Nine, requires some carries over desert and rocks and is acknowledged to be a little more challenging than the original 18 that offers mostly traditional, wide-open fairways plus some links-style holes.

According to Lawson, the best combination to play at the course is now the new par-36 layout (3,295 yards from the tips) plus the course's original nine holes. The blend gives golfers the opportunity to play a traditional course teamed with the newer style of design that has been sweeping the West for the past 10 years or so.

Black Mountain, by the way, is a semi-private course that goes back 40 years; it's one of the oldest courses in the Las Vegas area. The first nine - the Founders -- opened in 1959; the second -- the Horizon -- a year or two later. All 18 were designed by Bob Baldock.

A Texas architect, George Williams, designed the Desert Nine which could touch off further renovation plans. "If everything works out, the master plan is to go back in perhaps in a year or two and work on the other two nines to make them more distinct from each other. One would be a links-style and the other a classic, traditional style. There are already a few links-type holes out there."

Going to a desert format on the new nine was also a water conservation measure, he says, now that water is growing scarcer in the West. He used about 40 acres of grass on his design. Although there are desert carries, they are not formidable, he says. "From the back tees, they're as much as 100 yards. From the forward, there is very little to carry. It's very user-friendly as a desert course. It's not long and hard."

Expect a difference in the greens for a while on the new nine. "Whereas your greens on the existing 18 holes are small and faster, they will hold a shot better," Lawson said. "The greens on the Desert Nine are probably rolling a bit slower because there is no thatch layer underneath because of the newness. The grass will take a few years to get one built up so they're not as receptive to holding a shot. It's harder to stop a ball whereas on the back, you can attack the pin."

Currently, the most popular hole on the Desert Nine seems to be the 380-yard par-4 No. 4. The fairway is pretty narrow and there are a number of strategic bunkers.

"You have to kill the ball down the left side," Lawson said. "You have to shape the tee shot from left to right. If you don't, most of the shots are going to end up in the fairway bunker. You really need to turn it over and hit some sort of a draw if you want to have a shot."

If you want to play the Desert Nine, be sure to check on its availability before you make a tee time; it's due to be closed for a while in summer for reseeding.

Getting there

From Interstate 515 South, take the Horizon Drive (Exit 59), turn left onto East Horizon. Turn left onto Greenway. The course is on your right.

Fast fact

Black Mountain is the third oldest course in the Las Vegas area.

Kevin Fiddler, Contributor

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Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Black Mountain

    nick wrote on: Nov 22, 2010

    Black Mountain only has one decent nine, the Desert Nine, the rest of the course is old style boring, overpriced.