Plan of attack: How to play Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Wolf Course

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- There is a lot of desert here, and nowhere is that more evident than on Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Wolf Course.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort - Wolf Course - hole 8
No. 8 is among the most challenging par 3s on the Wolf Course at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort - Wolf Course - hole 8Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort - Wolf Course - 12th greenLas Vegas Paiute Golf Resort - Wolf Course - hole 15

Routed beautifully through the desert are 54 golf holes, including the famed Wolf Course. Here are a few tips at how to tame the Wolf, a Pete Dye masterpiece. Play this course smart, and you'll have a howling good time.

The important thing to remember is not to get caught up in the beauty that surrounds you at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.

With 54 brilliant golf holes (the Snow Mountain Course, and Sun Mountain Course are also Dye layouts and offer great challenges) it's easy to gaze around at the stunning surroundings. There are no houses, just lush green landscaping and desert outcroppings.

Paiute Wolf: Where to attack

It's easy to see a golf course that measure a whopping 7,604 yards from the tips is going to have its share of tough holes. That's the Wolf's nature. What's important is to take advantage of the golf holes where scoring is at a premium, which would be early in the round.

The opening three holes -- two par 4s (433 yards and 412 yards) and a par 5 (580 yards) -- all require long drives, but players finding the fairway will have plenty of opportunities to hit receptive greens and get their round under way with birdie chances.

"The course really allows you to be a little errant off the tee," said Greg Brockelman, head golf professional. "There's a lot of turf out here. But around the greens you can miss it in some places where it's difficult to get up and down. There's a lot less room for error on your approach shots."

That means players need to think before they swing.

"While you can be a little wild off the tee, you can't be really wild," Brockelman said. "There are a lot of unplayable areas with the desert washes and rock outcroppings, so players really need to play smart -- especially if they value their clubs."

Tough par 3s

This course is tough in many places, especially on the par 3s. The fourth (233 yards), eighth (206 yards) and 12th (209 yards) are all daunting enough with their distance, but sprinkle in 13 bunkers and you've just made these holes a little tougher.

"All four of the par 3s are oriented in a different direction," Brockelman said. "If there's wind, you may play one of them downwind, one or two with a crosswind and maybe one where the wind's in your face. They all have fairly large putting surfaces, so a shot in the middle of the green is a good shot."

We've saved the best for last on this tour of the par 3s. Surely you've read about it, seen it in photos or played it. The Wolf's signature hole -- and maybe Las Vegas' most intimidating golf shot -- is the par-3 15th. It plays 182 yards from the tips, which makes it the shortest of the four par 3s.

That's the good news.

The bad news is the shot is to an island green with a bunker short and another bunker long. The green is circular with a swale in the middle, so just reaching the green won't guarantee a par. It's the single most intimidating shot on a course that has enough teeth to tame even the best golfers.

The undulations

One more thing players really need to factor into their round are the undulations in the fairways. Downhill, uphill and sidehill lies await on just about every hole.

Take a second to assess your stance before pulling the trigger on a shot. It could mean the difference between having a putt for birdie (or eagle) and having to blast out of one of the more than 120 bunkers (including waste areas/bunkers) in an effort to save par.

The finish

The 18th is a PGA Tour-quality finishing hole. The par 4 stretches out to 496 yards (here's a tip: Don't play from the tips unless you're a single-digit handicapper).

There's a huge pond that runs down the right side of the fairway and no less than eight bunkers to catch errant shots. It's a golf hole that has it all: Length, trouble, beauty and the satisfaction of knowing a par or birdie here is a tremendous feat.

"It's a tough hole in the approach is pretty well bunkered," Brockelman said. "You can't really bounce it up on the green. You have to fly it up, and that makes it a tougher shot."

The choice is yours

The Las Vegas Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Wolf Course really must be played from the proper set of tees to be appreciated -- and enjoyed.

"If you're not accustomed to playing a course that's 7,300 yards plus, you can be really out of your element here if you play from the tips," Brockelman said. "Play a set of tees that will test you but won't wear you out."

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

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