Jack Nicklaus' Bear's Best Las Vegas: Golf course conditions, Red Rock scenery steal the show
LAS VEGAS -- The black sand wrapping around the par-3 fourth hole at Bear's Best Las Vegas is imported from Montana, so as to replicate the unique look at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Old Works Golf Club in the mountain west.
The coyote you might see trotting across it before hiding in arroyo bush, however, is no import. That's a wild inhabitant of the Las Vegas desert.
Unquestionably one of the Las Vegas area's most coveted rounds, Bear's Best Las Vegas replicates 18 of the legendary golfer and designer's best holes from around the world.
But what really makes the golf course is its striking setting at the base of the Red Rock mountains, just seven miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, offering one beautiful vista of both the mountains and the Strip back east - not to mention the occasional coyote passing through.
Nicklaus' holes were selected from designs in Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and elsewhere, but the holes seamlessly blend with one another, making for some dramatic shots both up, down and sidehill. This is one of those rare golf courses where you're certain to remember every hole as you're walking off the 18th green.
But it's not just the hole variety and the setting here. Bear's Best has course conditions unrivaled by its peers, even in late July.
"These are the best greens we've seen all year," admitted local golfer Joe Williams. "What a pleasure it is to see your putts roll true."
It's true, you're going to spend extra time lining your putts up and putting a good stroke on the ball on these bent grass greens. They're simply a joy to putt on, no matter what time of year.
The fairways are also in exceptional condition, and new sand was just added to the bunkers recently, making them consistent and fair - at least on 16 holes, with the two holes from Old Works (the short, par-4 11th hole being the other) using native black sand from that property at Nicklaus' request. He ensured the tribute to his best golf holes would be as accurate as possible.
On the par-5 eighth, which replicates former Castle Pines Golf Club in Colorado, scores of pine trees were scattered on both sides of the rough. The hole heads straight downhill directly towards the strip, providing some postcard worthy views especially in the setting sun.
The back nine heads up the foothills into the mountains before turning around and heading downhill towards the strip on the 15th and tricky par-4 16th hole, which features a massively wide fairway split by bunkers on either side.
A Nicklaus-designed course isn't going to end easy, either. The par-5 17th hole plays straight uphill, making the shorter yardage a little misleading. The scary-deep bunkers left of the green will make you think twice about going for the green in two shots.
Like the opening hole, the 18th comes from Nicklaus' two courses at The Club at PGA West and is a fitting closer to a dramatic golf course, playing up to 463 yards uphill with a large water hazard to the right of the fairway and nudging up to the front of the green, coming into play on both your drive and approach. Nothing short of two solid pokes gets you on the putting surface in regulation here, and hitting into the wind is a real beast to close your round. Nicklaus wouldn't want it any other way.
Bear's Best a Las Vegas knockout
Bear's Best is a very exciting resort course full of elevated tees and gorgeous scenery. The course is certainly a challenge, with plentiful bunkering, at times very steep, and championship yardage at 7,194 yards. You know hole variety is going to be as good as it gets, considering Nicklaus had thousands of holes to choose from in building this replica course.
It's not just the design, conditions and the scenery that go above and beyond at Bear's Best but the amenities as well, like the Golden Bear himself providing video descriptions of each golf cart in your GPS, before an aerial fly-over reveals the hole even further. You're going to get high roller Vegas treatment out here, worthy of all the multi-million dollar designer homes set on the course's perimeter.
Peak season green fees are $275, though it can be booked cheaper off-season through golf packages or with group rates. Bear's Best specializes in hosting corporate functions at its expansive and appointed clubhouse facility.
December 2, 2008