Desert Pines Golf Club brings a Carolina feel -- and a Dye challenge -- to Las Vegas

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS - Towering pines, brilliant white-sand bunkers and those trademark Pete Dye railroad tie-framed bunkers - welcome to Carolina golf, Vegas-style, at Desert Pines Golf Club.

18 Holes | Public | Par: 71 | 6222 yards
Desert Pines Golf Club in Las Vegas - hole 16
Welcome to Carolina golf, Vegas-style, at Desert Pines Golf Club, just 10 minutes from the Strip.
Desert Pines Golf Club in Las Vegas - hole 16Desert Pines Golf Club in Las Vegas - 18thDesert Pines Golf Club - stripDesert Pines G.C. - practice facilities

Desert Pines, one of three Walters Golf layouts along with Bali Hai Golf Club and Royal Links Golf Club, plays to 6,810 yards from the tips. And while the distance isn't overpowering, it's the narrow fairways and huge, high-lipped bunkers that really provide the challenge on this Dye Designs layout.

For many holes, driver isn't the choice. Players need to keep it in the fairway as those Dye-a-bolical bunkers -- complete with thousands of railroad ties -- will swallow errant shots off the tee or into greens. Many bunkers have severe faces that can test the shotmaking of even the best bunker players to hit enough club to clear the lip and still reach the green. And what greens they are as all 18 were rebuilt a couple of years ago and roll quick and true.

Lining the fairways are more than 4,000 mature pine trees. It's Carolina golf at its finest, but remember, you are in Vegas and Desert Pines G.C. is just 10 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip.

Gary Clonts, visiting Las Vegas from Oklahoma City, was playing his first round at Desert Pines. He was impressed -- and challenge.

"It's a great course," he said. "It's tough, but it's fair. And it is difficult. There are no gimmies here. It's also a very tight course and that makes you concentrate. I just love it. It's a good test for your game."

And what's not to love. With water coming into play on nine of the holes and more sand than in, well, the desert, it's a shot-makers paradise.

While all 18 holes are stunning, a few holes offer awe-inspiring views to go along with the challenges.

Take the par-5 third hole for example. The hole, called Lake Mojave, plays to just 535 yards from the tips. That means for many players, it's go-time. Take out that 3-wood for the second shot and get home in two.

But, let's step back for one second and think about it: With a huge pond guarding the right side of the green and a bunker and severe mounds to the left, it's no easy task getting home in two. Throw in an undulating green (and that's the norm on most of the greens at Desert Pines) and a birdie here is no guarantee.

Also on the front nine is "The Narrows." And this is one hole that lives up to its name. At 322 yards from the tips, placement is the key. But again, that's no easy task as the tee shot must find its way through two strands of pine trees no more than 20 yards wide. Think of hitting your tee shot through a tunnel without hitting the sides. Oh, and then there's the rolling fairway that is guarded by plenty of bunkers. The large green is receptive but very undulating making a two-putt no guarantee.

Ending both nines are two par 4s that will test even the best players in your group. Both play alongside a huge pond - to the left on the ninth and to the right on the 18th. Both play more than 465 yards and with pins tucked in the back corner near the water, players will need to calm their nerves before pulling the trigger.

Mix in a couple of driveable par 4s -- for the big hitters -- and you've got a golf course that has a something for everyone.

If you haven't played Desert Pines in awhile, you need to tee it up again. You won't believe what you've been missing.

Desert Pines Golf Club: On the range

The practice facility at Desert Pines is a massive 20,000 square feet and the two-tiered range is climate-controlled with misters to battle the summer warmth and heaters for warmth in the cooler months.

The five greens resemble some of the world's top par 3s and is lighted for night-time play.

Need a little help with your game? The Walters Golf Academy is on-site and features the instruction of Mike Davis, a PGA Master Professional and one of GOLF Magazine's Top 100 instructors.

Desert Pines Golf Club: In the clubhouse

Make time to stop in Duffer's Lounge before or after your round for some of the best golf food selections around. From Pasta Primavera with Chicken to Low-Carb Wraps to an old-fashioned burger, the selections are as varied as they are tasty. And when the weather's nice, pull up a table outside and watch players play the ninth and 18th holes.

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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