Red Rock Country Club brings a little something to the public. . .for now

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- One of the Valley's premier private golf communities has now dipped into Sin City's public market as well. Red Rock Country Club, a 738-acre private community located on the southwestern edge of the Summerlin master-plan, debuted its Arnold Palmer-designed Arroyo Course in the fall of 2003.

Now, with a year under its belt, most of the course is matured well past its age, if only because most of the course isn't exactly new at all.

The Arroyo course is made up of only six new holes which open the course. Holes seven through 18 come from the once 27-hole Mountain Course, also designed by Palmer and opened in the summer of 1999. Not surprisingly, director of golf Clay Meininger says the best holes on the course are the new ones.

"I really like those first six holes and even the seventh," Meininger admitted. "The finishing stretch is strong, too, and there's a lot of variety in between."

Future plans are to eventually close the doors to the public and create a 36-hole private golf community that aspires to rank among Southern Nevada's most lavish. But as the economy hobbles along, Sunrise Colony Company officials haven't put a timeline on the Arroyo's privatization.

"Our niche is that we want to give golfers a taste of Red Rock Country Club and a private golf service level," said Meininger. "We are also touting the Palmer name, which most golfers identify with."

Like its exclusive sibling, Arroyo is set in the shadows of Red Rock Canyon at the base of the towering Spring Mountains and virtually the entire property is a photo op. This dramatic atmosphere makes it nearly impossible for the actual course layout to keep up.

Unlike a true resort track, however, the ornate homes and well-manicured backyards of Red Rock are constantly on display. In terms of overall flavor, Arroyo is a "resort meets residential" concoction that seems to work, especially given its enviable location. The course is playable for all skills, with fairways funneling tee shots into landing areas and hazards placed mostly for show. The greens are massive, have numerous pin placement options, and are usually mowed in the 10-11 range on the Stimpmeter.

At just 6,857 yards, Arroyo is significantly shorter than most of the new daily fee products coming out around Sin City these days that range between 7,100-7,300 yards, and caters to the first player and average duffer by offering little in the way of surprises but much in the way of tee boxes, offering five different sets.

Bunkers are large and dramatically sculpted, but not exactly in penal spots. Yet several greens, like the 4th are heavily guarded on all sides. Modest in quantity, there are 68 total. Also, large landing zones and bailout areas mean you have to find most hazards almost on purpose.

During its 30-year history, Sunrise Colony has earned a reputation for constructing challenging, jaw-dropping golf courses amid high-end, tastefully done residential development. The SoCal based company is the proud purveyor of neighboring Siena Golf Club, and was the force behind award-winning California golf communities Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirageand PGA West in La Quinta.

Upon opening, the Arroyo course also constructed its own clubhouse, separate from the private facilities at the Mountain Course. The building is a Robert Altevers design, architect of the award-winning member clubhouse next door. The new clubhouse features a bar and grill, terrace dining, a fully stocked golf shop as well as men's and women's locker rooms.

The Arroyo Course is what it is: a playable course with stunning scenery and a smattering of decent golf holes. It won't provide as memorable a round as Sin City's big-name resort courses, but the price is relative. If you're looking for a course to include in your annual Vegas rotation, Arroyo would be a nice addition, considering its conditioning and scenery. But if you aren't a regular to Sin City, consider the premier courses first: Reflection Bay, TPC at the Canyons, Paiute Resort, and of course if you know the right person and have the bank for it, the Eighth Wonder: Shadow Creek.

Where to Stay

Staying along The Strip and flagging a cab or renting a car to get to local area courses is still the way to go for most Vegas visitors. If the tables are just as important as the fairways when you come out, opt for the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the far south end of The Strip, which recently opened THE Hotel, a 43-story addition to the original hotel. The tower's 750-square foot suites claim to have the largest standard hotel room in Las Vegas. THE Hotel will also house its own fitness and spa facilities, upscale dining options and other perks and amenities.

And of course, for you golfers, Mandalay Bay offers a full service golf concierge desk, easy access to the freeway system, and the first of its kind: the Nike Golf retail store. The store is part of the new "Mandalay Place" -- a 100,000-square-foot retail center with 41 shops and restaurants, including Caffe Giorgio, with its savory Italian cuisine and lip-smacking desserts.

Dining out

You could dine out every night for two weeks at the existing Mandalay Bay property and never eat at the same restaurant twice (15 spots to chose from last we checked).

For casual fare, the world-famous House of Blues offers Cajun/Creole cuisine with a Vegas flare. For an Americana brew pub experience, check out the new Red, White and Blue. If you're looking to impress, or just want to kick up the heels and raise the pinkies, Aureole and 3950 are Mandalay Bay's standout fine dining options.

Mandalay Bay also covers the ethnic culinary gamut from Mexico and Italy to China and Russia. The Border Grill serves up creative interpretations of traditional Mexican dishes; Red Square is a must-see vodka bar meets perestrojka-inspired eatery; China Grill emphasizes non-traditional, far eastern fare and Trattoria Del Lupo is a Wolfgang Puck eatery with an eye toward Tuscany.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • What?

    Larry Rogers wrote on: Jul 20, 2005

    I read your review and I think you are being quite generous. It is true that the clubhouse and layout of the course are commendable, however, I felt the care the course recieved was sorely lacking.
    Sand traps not filled. It was so bad that my wedge got caught on a sandbag in the bottom of a bunker, not once, but on two separate holes (3rd and 18th if I remember correctly).
    Dead spots in the fairway. Clumps of dead grass from previous mowings, which I assume was from letting the fairway grass grow to long. Or maybe just not caring enough to clean it up. Or both. The rough was truely "rough" and I could have appreciated this as an added challenge, however, given the overall lack of care the course had, it was painfully obvious that it was more an issue of lack of maintenance. The greens were ok, not great but at least not torn up. I did pay the Clark County resident price, so it wasn't a total rip-off, but compared to any of the courses ran by OB sports, Dragonridge, Revere, Rhode Ranch, Primm, Seina, the Boulder Creek courses, Pauite, TCP Canyons, and Badlands - this course was extremely overpriced. Even brand-new Tuscany had better fairways and upkeep - even before they finished the course!Frankly, I wouldn't pay 5 bucks to play it again in that condition.
    Which is really ashame, considering the overall layout of the course. It could be well worth the 85 bucks if they took a modicum of pride in course upkeep.
    Larry Rogers