Legacy Golf Club in Henderson rebounds in style

By Todd Dewey, Contributor

HENDERSON, Nev. -- Looking for the classic Las Vegas signature hole? Look no further than Legacy Golf Club, actually located in Sin City's sister town of Henderson.

18 Holes | Public | Par: 72 | 7233 yards
Legacy Golf Club - hole 1 green
Legacy Golf Club in Henderson can more than hold its own in the crowded Vegas golf marketplace.
Legacy Golf Club - hole 1 greenLegacy Golf Club in Henderson - hole 10

The upscale course, built in 1989 and designed by architect Arthur Hills, features a set of four tees each shaped like a symbols from a suit of cards -- a spade, club, diamond and heart -- on its 193-yard, par-3 10th hole.

While the hole may be a novelty, the par-72, 7,233-yard layout is anything but. Like a player competing in a high-stakes poker tournament at one of Southern Nevada's myriad casinos, golfers will need plenty of skill, strategy and, yes, luck, to navigate this challenging, but beautiful, track.

An annual host to a U.S. Open qualifying tournament -- in which only four of more than 100 players broke 70 this year - the Legacy will test players of all abilities.

"It's definitely a tough enough golf course, to put good players on the back tees and force them to shoot good numbers," said course general manager Allen Jones. "It's not extremely penal -- there are only 58 bunkers -- but it makes you use all the clubs in your bag."

Water doesn't come into play much, either, on the links of Legacy, as there are just two forced carries over lakes on Nos. 8 and 17, which is arguably one of the best par-5s in the area.

"Our par-5s are pretty wide open," Jones said. "Three of the par-5s can be reached in two (shots), by the big hitters."

The playing conditions were perfect on a recent October day, with great lies in the sloping, multi-tiered fairways and the undulating greens holding very well, which is crucial, since several of them are elevated.

"Our golf course is in really, really good condition," Jones said. "Tee to green, it plays almost as good as any other one in town."

Longtime local golfer Rich Thurlow was quite impressed with the course conditions during his recent round. "This is the time of year it's supposed to be perfect, and this course is flawless. There are no bare spots," he said. "It's hard in this part of the country to get to this point, but they did a great job of getting this ready to go.

"The greens were immaculate. They were not fast -- today -- but in the winter months they're probably slick."

While the course, which winds through some stunning homes in Green Valley, features its share of palm trees, lava rock and love grass, it's not a typical desert golf track.

"Even though we're in the desert, I don't consider it a desert course. It's not a target course," said Jones, who has been in the golf business for more than 30 years and also served as general manager of both the TPC at Star Pass in Tucson, Ariz., and the TPC at Summerlin in Las Vegas. "There's a lot of lava rock, but you don't see many cactuses. To me, it's more of a traditional course.

"There are wide fairways and it doesn't take the driver out of your hands. Most times, there are no hidden shots. It's very straightforward and fun."

That is, unless you land in the rough, which isn't tall, but is very thick. Balls tend to disappear in the Bermuda grass.

"The rough isn't high, but the Bermuda makes it tough," Thurlow said. "The ball settles in and it's tough to get the club face on the ball. It's a tough course. We played the short tees and this course is a bear."

After completing "The Suits" on the 10th hole, golfers do battle with the "Devil's Triangle," named for three challenging holes in a row, on 11, 12 and 13.

"It actually forms a triangle when you're in there," Jones said. "All three have more room than it looks like, but you have to be able to work the ball a little bit."

Par is a good score on No. 11, a long par-4 at 444 yards. An accurate second shot is required, likely with a long iron, as a pair of sand traps guard the front and right of the green, with a pair of grass bunkers and some desert flora on the left.

Holes 12 and 13 are much shorter, at 381 and 324 yards, respectively, but require accurate tee shots, leaving short irons to a pair of elevated greens.

The course, located a few miles down the street from the plush, highly recommended Green Valley Ranch Station Casino, was picked as the best public golf course to play in 2003, in an online Best of Las Vegas poll taken by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Legacy features a complete practice facility, with grass and mat stations on the driving range, a large putting green -- along with one at No. 10 -- with practice sand bunkers and a chipping area as well.

Todd Dewey, Contributor

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