Enjoy an easy-going, laid back golf vibe at Black Mountain Golf & Country Club in Henderson, Nev.
HENDERSON, Nev. - As anyone who plays knows, a golf facility is much more than a collection of doglegs, hazards and well-conditioned fairways and greens. Most golf courses tell a story, which is often evident the first few minutes after arrival.
Black Mountain Golf & Country Club is one of those clubs. They've got a half-century to draw from, and it's evident from the time you drive up that you're in a place that melds the past with the present.
The member-owned 27-hole club, which is open for public play, was founded in 1957, making it the third oldest golf course in the Las Vegas area. One of the original founders, octogenarian Lou LaPorta, still plays the course regularly. If you're lucky, you might bump into him or one of the other 300 down-to-earth shareholder members in the clubhouse, grill or putting green.
"It's a very traditional style club," said Joan Phillips, director of golf at Black Mountain. "The members here have always been very relaxed, and it's very affordable."
You'll still find cart attendants here to help you at the bag drop, but little is formal about the experience at this club which sits in the shadow of its namesake. It's mostly about golf here, no matter your skill level or social status. Out-of-town guests who come alone or in a twosome would be well advised to hook up with a member or two, who cannot only help you navigate the course's three nines, but will surely have some interesting anecdotes to share.
The course's first nine, aptly named "Founders," opened in 1959. Designed by Bob Baldock, it plays to 3,309 yards from the back tees and may be the most difficult of the three layouts. The first three holes, a par-4, par-5 and par-3, all feature small, elevated greens that the club refers to it as its own "Amen Corner." Get by those in good shape, and you're set up for rest of the nine.
The original nine has seen changes recently, though. The club has spent more than $2 million in renovations, much of it coming on the Founder's nine to bring it more in line with the rest of golf course. Part of the program included the removal of 50 acres of irrigated turf and replacing it with crushed rock and natural desert landscape. Unless you top the ball, the natural areas shouldn't come into play, and the contrast of the sandy areas and green grass has added definition to the course. Plus, the course benefits from a financial-incentive program. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has been working with area courses over the last few years to help combat an ongoing drought.
"It's really helping to modernize it," said Philips of the improvements to Founders, "to bring it up to the rest of the course."
Black Mountain's second nine, the Horizon Course, opened in 1963. Designed by Baldock and then-superintendent Ira Cluff, it's more open than the original nine holes. Generous off the tee, Horizon rewards precisely played approach shots to well bunkered greens. The two par-5s are well within reach of most skilled players, so the opportunity for birdies are there, Philips said.
"That's probably our members' favorite nine," said Phillips, a former standout college player and Iowa state champion. "It's very much risk-reward."
The third nine, the Desert Course, opened in 2002. Designed by George Williams of Williams, Gill and Associates of Abilene, Texas, the latest layout is true desert golf. Spray it off the tee, and you might find yourself in the rocks between fairways, taking an unplayable lie. The Desert Course brings in a variety of shots. The third hole, for example, is a short 360-yard dogleg left, but the fairway gives way to desert about 270 yards off the tee just beyond a deep fairway bunker. The last hole, the 530-yard par-5, is reachable with a big drive, but water in front of and along the left side of the green, makes any attempt to hit in two treacherous.
Black Mountain is also home of the Jeff Symmonds Golf School, and the grill features a variety of menu affordable menu items to enjoy after your round.
January 16, 2008