Bali Hai offers Las Vegas Strip location and upscale, Pacific-themed golf course
LAS VEGAS - Greater Las Vegas has blossomed into a well-saturated golf market, but if you've ever been on the Strip, you've probably pondered, "Where are these golf courses, anyways?"
Most facilities are hardly convenient to the tourist without a car handy, often a 30- to 60-minute drive away and commanding outrageous cab fares to go along with three-figure green fees.
But not only is Bali Hai Golf Club one of the best upscale golf courses in Las Vegas, the location on the south end of the Strip in the shadows of Mandalay Bay and across the street from McCarran International Airport is unbeatable. It's the Strip's only golf course open to the public — and like most Strip properties, carries its own elaborate theme.
Taking on Pacific flair at every corner, more than 2,500 palm trees were imported from all over the world, accented with black volcanic rock and white sand. Water fixtures, from ponds to slow-running streams and waterfalls also make for a tranquil landscape.
The land has been heavily shaped in a way that visually, from the south end of the course especially, is stunning. It's the highest point and offers beautiful views over the course and the mega hotels on the south end of the strip.
Bali Hai has resort-style, golfer-friendly trademarks all over. Fairways are huge, bowled at many times, and fairway bunkers are pretty easy to fly with a good poke off the tee.
First-timers to the course won't run into much trickery they don't see from their ball. Driver is a good play on most holes, especially on the three par 5s that are all at a shorter length begging to be reached in two shots.
The par 3s also play on the short side. The ninth, "Luah," and 16th, "Pacific Rim," both require little more than a chip shot over water to large, heavily sloped greens that sit with the clubhouse as a backdrop.
Since the course opened, the 18th, "Kuda Bay," has been changed from an easy par 5 to a challenging long par 4. It features a dogleg left, playing about 450 yards from the championship tees.
"The green was built to hold short irons and wedges," said our caddie as we teed off. "Hit your drive anywhere on the right side of the hole, and you're better off playing left (of the pond and green) and chipping up to the green for a shot at par."
Like Walters Golf's other upscale course Royal Links, caddies and forecaddie services are available. They're probably not as needed as the trickier Royal Links course (everything at Bali Hai is in front of you). They are optional and carry no fixed fee, but common courtesy is about $25-30 a person.
About half of the foursomes at Bali Hai take a forecaddie with them. Walking is also allowed here — although more seldom done — and the course is compactly routed for this.
Bali Hai Golf Club: The verdict
You're going to get a five-star golf experience at Bali Hai. Conditions at the time of visit were superior to any other course in Vegas, even after an unseasonably cool and dry winter.
Service and amenities all make the grade for a course that commands more than $300 during peak season weekends. The design of the course isn't going to beat you up. It's a pretty, resort course with plenty of eye candy but it's also got some length and par isn't a given. Since most holes are pretty open and there's no out of bounds, it's usually pretty easy to scramble for bogey.
Bali Hai also has probably the most convenient and accessible golf course to the south end of the Strip and airport. The tradeoff of to this location of course is a consistent stream of aircraft overhead and bustling roads on the perimeter, but it's a tradeoff you can certainly embrace.
The off-course facilities are also top notch. The award-winning golf shop features an assortment of clubs and logo gear (not exactly cheap), and the locker facilities are clean, light and well-serviced. The golf staff knows you're expecting the best here and strive to deliver.
There's no full-sized range. Instead, the course offers a netted warm-up area about 40 yards deep.
Las Vegas hotel tips
Mandalay Bay is right next door and it's one of the Strip's trendier (and more expensive) hotels. Also in the area are upper-middle class hotels Monte Carlo, The Luxor & MGM Grand.
If you're looking to get off the Strip, the secluded Lake Las Vegas Resort is a more quiet retreat that caters to golfers and has a variety of different accommodation options, centered around three championship courses.
Las Vegas restaurants
Bali Hai's clubhouse features the upscale restaurant Cili, which is open for lunch until 3 p.m. This is no ordinary clubhouse grill and the front entrance greets visitors with a large water tank full of exotic fish.
Lunches here usually feature more businessmen than golfers — so much so if you're in simple shorts and a polo shirt you almost feel under-dressed. It has a gourmet menu featuring fresh fish and other meats, like the excellent chicken and beef all served with pacific flair.
If you're not looking for something as fancy as Cili, there's a grill with all the usual favorites and then some located nearby.
June 6, 2008