DragonRidge Country Club is conditioned for greatness

By Murray Anderson, Contributor

HENDERSON, NV -- Sculpted into the McCullough Mountains east of Henderson is DragonRidge Country Club, a beast of a course that can challenge golfers of any skill level.

DragonRidge is a private, gated community and as the gates open to allow access into the area, a rock formation high atop one of the mountains explains how the course got its name. The ridges along the mountain appear like the ridges along a dragon's back.

The golf course opened in May 2000 with a temporary clubhouse and its permanent 28,000-square-foot building is due to open next summer. Even with the temporary clubhouse, DragonRidge has already played host to some prestigious events and garnered accolades for its pristine conditions.

Tiger Woods has hosted two of his Tiger Jam events at DragonRidge and the course is the site of this year's Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge. The challenge between the PGA, LPGA and Senior PGA players is scheduled for Nov. 5 at the course and will be televised Dec. 21 and 22 on ABC.

"I think it's a great honor we've been selected for these events," said Cliff Lawson, director of golf at DragonRidge. "I know I'm a little biased but I think our course is one of the top three or four in the valley."

The course was designed by the team of Jay Morrish and David Druzisky who decided to use the mountains natural terrain and carve the course through the hills and valleys.

"It was fun to design a golf course and be able to put golfers through a host of different experiences," said Druzisky, who has worked on courses with legendary designers Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Bob Cupp. "I think the course plays like a storyline, through the front nine with the water elements to the back nine with the more challenging holes and rugged topography."

The front nine at DragonRidge features a par-3 second hole that can be measured anywhere from 235 yards from the back tees to 155 yards from the forward tees. But the elevation change from the tee box to the green makes the hole play a lot shorter.

The elevated tee boxes on the second hole are carved into the lava rock covered mountains and can be a hike for those playing the back tees. The tee box is the highest elevated point on the 18-hole course and offers outstanding views of the Las Vegas Valley.

"Despite its length, the hole is extremely fair," Lawson said. "The tees are elevated so it plays shorter than it's actual length and the green and the surrounding area are generous."

The par-4, seventh hole is the toughest on the course and measures 441 yards from the back tees. There is a dramatic water feature all along the right side of the hole and it doglegs right along with the water.

"This is a very intimidating looking tee shot. The fairway is not very wide and you see water alll along the right," Lawson said. "The second shot can also be intimidating because there is sand in front of the green and water on the right."

DragonRidge's back nine holes feature more gambling options than the front nine and a few blind tee shots.

"The front nine holes have a definite desert flow but it is a little more traditional than the back nine," Lawson said. "Along the back there are a lot more forced carries with some desert flair."

The black lava rock along the back nine holes offer a dramatic visual image to the course and can swallow up stray balls.

"The course is a definite challenge. It's not long and most of the fairways are generous, but if you spray the ball you will be in trouble," Lawson said. "With the lava rock you would swear you are on the big island of Hawaii."

The back nine features two holes with split fairways in No. 10 and No. 18 and a tough par-5, No. 12.

The 12th hole plays 570 yards uphill with a desert wash running across the middle of the fairway. Big hitters might be forced leave the driver in the bag to avoid hitting into the wash. The second shot will likely find sand as bunkers are prominent in front of the green and to the left.

"Along with playing uphill, this hole generally plays into the wind when it gets gusting out here," Lawson said. "The second shot is a layup shot."

DragonRidge features an outstanding practice area that is complimentary with pre-arranged tee times. In addition to the driving range, practice facilities also include two bent grass practice greens, a greenside and fairway bunker.

The course also features its own private school to allow for a more informal, yet comprehensive overview of a student's entire golf game.

If one so chooses, individuals are able to customize their own golf instruction and focus on specific problem areas in the private school. Each day in the school consists of 5 to 7 hours including instruction on all facets of the game, complimentary lunch and 18 holes of golf.


DragonRidge Golf Club is approximately 20 minutes south of the Las Vegas Strip, with the main gated entrance located on the corner of Valle Verde and Horizon Ridge Parkway.

From the Las Vegas Strip

Get onto Interstate 15 going south (you can access it from either Spring Mountain, Flamingo, Tropicana or Russell Road). Exit Interstate 15 onto the 215 Freeway east to McCarran Airport/Henderson. Continue approximately 10 minutes until you reach the Valle Verde exit. Exit south (right) on Valle Verde Drive. Continue on Valle Verde to Horizon Ridge Parkway, cross Horizon Ridge to the MacDonald Highland/Stonehaven gated entrance and proceed straight up the road that ends at the clubhouse.

From the Airport

Exit right (south) to the 215 Freeway/Henderson through the airport tunnel. Stay in the left lane. Take the Henderson exit, which circles around and puts you on the 215 Freeway. Take the 215 Freeway and exit right (south) on to Valle Verde Drive. Continue on Valle Verde across Horizon Ridge to the MacDonald Highland/Stonehaven gated entrance and proceed straight up the road that ends at the clubhouse.

Murray Anderson, Contributor

Murray Anderson attended Imperial Valley College for two years and then California State University, Fullerton. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications in 1992 with an emphasis in journalism. He began his journalism career at the Imperial Valley Press newspaper as a sports writer and later became a full-time news writer, then sports writer and eventually sports editor.

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