The Desert Inn Comes Up Aces on the Golf Course

By Rob Floyd, Contributor

Desert Inn is no longer in business

LAS VEGAS - Of all the places to stay in Las Vegas, The Desert Inn is by far the classiest, least pretentious hotel. The hotel is elegant, luxurious and splendid. It truly has reemerged as the crown jewel of the Las Vegas Strip.

Opened in 1950 and checking in as the 5th casino on the "Strip", The Desert Inn has undergone major renovations more than once. The latest $200 million renovation was completed in 1997 and brought with it luxurious accommodations and fantastic ambiance. All in all there are 715 guest rooms and suites ranging from 400 square feet to well over 9,000 square feet.

The Augusta Tower hosts 308 contemporary style guest rooms and suites ranging between 400 and 500 square feet with large bathrooms with double sinks and refrigerators. The Wimbledon Tower rooms are a bit more spacious and include a hydro-whirl tub and separate walk-in showers.

The elegance encountered in one of their 82 one or two bedroom suites is unrivaled. These suites range from 800 square feet to 9,300 square feet and five of them have their own private swimming pools and seven have Jacuzzi tubs. No guest amenity has been overlooked in the upper-echelon of suites.

But what I really came to Vegas for was The Desert Inn Golf Club. The pictures in the magazines looked truly amazing and in person, the course was definitely high-class. The Desert Inn Golf Club is the only course actually located on the "Strip" and it boasts of being the only course in the world to host the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and the Senior PGA Tour.

Additionally, The Desert Inn Golf Club was home of the PGA's Tournament of Champions for 13 years. Obviously the PGA thinks highly of this course.

Surrounded by scores of exotic imported palm trees and tall mature native trees, the highly-rated Lawrence Hughes-designed course offers golfers fun, challenging, and incredibly beautiful holes. Water hazards border nine of the 18 holes on the 7,193-yard, par 72 course.

Global Positioning Satellite

Each golf cart comes standard with a ProLink electronic information system. This was the first time I had ever played with a cart equipped with the Global Positioning Satellite system and it was very helpful. It was like having my own personal caddie for the day. Each hole is graphically depicted on a screen which gives distances to greens, bunkers, and water and even keeps track of how long a drive each player had. It also has "Pro Tips" for each hole giving advise on whether to lay-up, drive hard, go left or right and how the green is contoured. This GPS system was definitely beneficial.

Hole number one, at 442 yards, starts off with a long par 4, and sets the standard for the day, that being the necessity for well placed golf shots over, through, and around sand traps and skirting along water hazards. The first hole shares a 24,000 square foot green with hole #10, reminding me of a legendary Scottish Link course.

The second hole once again crosses angling bunkers located directly in the landing zone from the tee. This hole and hole #3 are relatively short, yet deceptively difficult holes due to the strategically placed bunkers and protected greens.

The par 3 fourth hole is a classic. The undulating green ringed with bunkers makes club selection a key to success here. The green was recently enlarged by 50 yards making it quite possible to have a 130-foot putt. If you like long shots, then you should like holes #5 and #6 as well.

Hole #5 is the longest hole on the course, measuring in at 587 yards, making it a good hole for longest drive wagers because you've got O.B. on the right and a heavily tree-lined track on the left. To add to the excitement, once you get onto the dance floor, the challenge is far from over due to the multi-layered green. Hole #6 turns around and plays back towards the #5 tee box.

The seventh hole, a par 3 is truly beautiful. To land the green, you've got a long, almost 200 yard carry over water to a large, heavily bunkered green. Once again you could be faced with a 150-foot putt depending on where you land the ball.

Besides being one of the toughest holes on the course, #7 is also by far the most beautiful. A fish-filled lake accents the entire left side of the green, with a small waterfall in the background and a small pot-bunker guards the front of the green which is nestled into an elevated mound rimming the backside.

Holes #8 and #9 end the front nine with interesting, as well as difficult golf. The 450 yard #8 is the longest par four on the course and is accented by undulating mounds on the left and deep sand bunkers on the right. A good drive is crucial here to get a good approach shot through a series of swells in front and left of the green.

The ninth hole is a beautiful and long hole. It is lined with water on the left that separates it from the 18th hole. Water comes into play once again 160 yards from the green when the stream bisects the fairway. The waterfalls and the lake provide a wonderful lush setting in the arid desert surroundings.

Making the Turn

The back nine starts off with another long par five that dog-legs right with heavy bunkering in the landing zones. The front of the green and the right side of the fairway are guarded by intimidating water that will have you hoping you have a good short game. Funny enough, that same thought might pass through your head on the par three 11th hole as well, due to the nasty bunkers guarding the green.

Holes #12, #13, and #14 are good par fours that place an emphasis on accurate tee shots due to the narrow landing areas, the angles of the dog-legs, the serious bunkering, and the out of bounds. Play these holes smart and you'll be all right.

The 15th par five is a tremendous hole requiring distance, accuracy and smart golfing. A long carry over water is required to reach the green in two, making it advisable to lay up on this hole or go really, really big. You decide. The par three 16th will have you thinking about swimming again if you are the type to be intimidated by water.

The green is located 178 yards from the tee box, separated by a beautiful lake that is just waiting to eat up your ball. Be careful not to overshoot this hole because behind the green is not where you want to be.

The last two holes on the course are two of the best holes out there. The 17th is a difficult par four with O.B. and bunkers on the left and water and bunkers on the right. At 30 yards from the green, water bisects the fairway and makes this a demanding hole especially depending on where the pin is placed on the long green.

The 18th hole is a doozie and a great finishing hole as you are forced around a lake on the right with O.B. and sand on your left. Water cuts into the front right side of the green which is also surrounded with many bunkers, making the approach shot somewhat dangerous. Be careful not to overplay the green because there is a small stream very close to the far edge of the green.

Overall, the Desert Inn is absolutely the premier resort on "The Strip." The accommodations are extraordinary and the golfing is absolutely fantastic. See you out on the course.

Rob Floyd, Contributor

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