Looking to get a taste of the Carolinas in Vegas? Try Desert Pines Golf Club
LAS VEGAS - Many golf courses claim to be unique, and on some level, they all are, but there really is nothing like Desert Pines Golf Club.
On what other golf course in southern Nevada will you find thousands of Carolina pine trees? Where else can you find a two-tiered, climate-controlled practice center (which is really nice in the summer months) open as late as midnight during the summer? And how many golf courses are just 10 minutes from the Vegas Strip and 15 minutes from McCarran International Airport?
Desert Pines Golf Club looks pretty typical when you drive up to the clubhouse on East Bonanza Road and leave your bags with the friendly attendants. But when you step up to the first tee, you soon realize it's not desertscape; tall pines surround the rolling fairways and undulating bentgrass greens.
It's also all golf.
"You don't see houses, and that's really nice," says Josh Gafford, head professional at the club. "And we pride ourselves on a course that plays to a lot of levels. There are not a lot of forced carries. And it's a very pretty golf course."
At 6,810 yards this Dye Designs layout, which opened in 1996, will encourage you to use every club in the bag. Players who think they can bomb it off the tee accurately will undoubtedly try to drive several of the short par 4s like nos. 1, 4 and 14, the latter which is aptly named "Do or Dye" in reference to its risk-reward possibilities and architect. And those who choose to lay up might be hitting anywhere from a fairway wood to a long iron off the tee to set up birdie opportunities with short clubs.
But Desert Pines is far from a pushover. There are four lakes that come into play on half the holes, which require both precision off the tee and into the greens. And once you get to Desert Pines' challenging greens, you still have to pay attention to avoid the dreaded three- or occasional four-putt.
There are also a great variety of holes. While some of the par 4s are short, the par-4 fifth, for example, can play as long as 489 yards. The par 3s range from 158 yards to 252 yards from the tips. The shortest, No. 11, is called "Reese's Landing" and is far from easy with water looming front right of the green. The longest is called "Great Britain," and has a look reminiscent of the links courses across the pond.
One of the best holes is the finishing 18th, a 466-yard par-4 aptly named "The Gauntlet," and ready to ruin a perfectly good score.
"Good placement of the tee shot is important," Gafford says, "but your job's not done yet."
Not with water down the left side off the tee and on the approach shot, and two large bunkers protecting the green.
Even if you don't want to play golf on a particular day, Desert Pines is a great place to get away for an hour or two just hit a few balls and relax. The lighted Desert Pines Practice Center, which opens at 6 a.m., has 58 covered stations with a computerized, automated ball-delivery system that allows players to practice without having to bend over to tee up a ball. There's also a separate snack bar that just serves the practice facility, which is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer.
There are also two practice greens nearby as well as the Duffers full-service grill and bar inside the clubhouse. Callaway X-20 golf clubs, and golf shoes are available for rent in the pro shop.
June 16, 2008