Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas: Nicklaus Always a Sure Bet

By Doug Saunders, Contributor

Las Vegas Golf Course - Reflection Bay Golf ClubLAKE LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Reflection Bay Golf Club is one of two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses to be built at the $4 billion resort development known as Lake Las Vegas Resort. When the initial plans to create, what will no doubt become, one of the most ambitious and extensive resort communities in the West, the developers knew that they needed the talents and reputation of the best golf architects in order to draw attention and credibility to the multi-faceted development. No name in golf has more recognition than that of Jack Nicklaus, (sorry, Tiger, you have some years to go to reach him and we know you will) so it was a simple choice as to who should create the first courses.

Lake Las Vegas is a 320-acre man made lake with over ten miles of shoreline. On its North shore is the 495-room Hyatt Regency hotel. On the South shore are clusters of residential home sites ranging from $300,000 to $5 million. The South Shore Club, a private club for homeowners, was also built on the South shore. On the North shore, Reflection Bay was created as an amenity for resort guests.

The topography at Lake Las Vegas is a stirring sight. The complex sits nestled in a valley surrounded by rugged hills of varying colors. Behind the South shore, bands of black and gray rock are streaked through the craggy mountains. Through the middle the languid surface of the 100-foot deep lake adds a tranquil anchor to the landscape. At no time is it possible to imagine that you are just 17 miles from the madness that is the Vegas Strip.

Reflection Bay was set up as a complete resort course. The 32,000 square foot clubhouse includes a fully equipped pro shop, snack bar and lounge, the gourmet restaurant Le Chandelle, and a beach along the waters edge. The driving range and practice facilities are extensive and play host to the Nicklaus/Flick Golf School throughout the year. This makes for an inviting welcoming to a great golf course.

Las Vegas Golf Course - Reflection Bay Golf Club The golf course plays from five sets of tees and wind through a series of different landscapes including rugged arroyos, deep valleys, rolling hillsides and, of course, the lake shore. This course reaches to 7,261 yards from the tournament Black tees and up to a comfortable 5,166 yards from the forward Red tee blocks. Most players will find a complete challenge from either the Whites or Blues, which play at 6,391 and 6,862 yards respectively.

The variety of terrain allowed Nicklaus to show his mastery as he shapes holes to the landscape. One of his most noticeable traits, the well-protected green that demands strong iron play, is evident throughout the layout. Nicklaus takes subtle uphill holes and puts well-placed bunkers in front to force you to clear it. He takes a downhill par five and tilts a green just enough to force a soft entry to land in two. As the holes wind out along the water, he brings water, sand, and trees all into play to make you think twice before you pull the trigger. He is not being cruel, he just wants you to prove your worth with each shot.

Las Vegas Golf Course - Reflection Bay Golf Club The front nine works up through a rugged arroyo where the red cliffs stand as a formidable backdrop. At the par 5 third hole you get your first glimpse out towards the thousands of acre of BLM land as you look out on a downhill hole that stretches to 596 yards from the back tees. If you really crush a drive, the steep hill can get you to a position to get home in two, but Nicklaus' bunkers lurk for an errant shot.

Nicklaus shows a touch of whimsy on the uphill, par 5 5th hole. This hole is one of the prettiest on the course as you drive into an ample landing area with a steep dropoff to the right and a large hillside framing the left of the hole. The rugged cliffs dominate the back of the hole, but the raised green is dropped into a tropical-looking landscape with water, palm trees, and languid pools that are such a sharp contrast to the surroundings. This hole is a visual treat.

Las Vegas Golf Course - Reflection Bay Golf Club The 7th, 8th, and 9th holes play along the shore of the lake and again the addition of palm trees add a touch to the landscape. Nicklaus knows how to use water. He obviously had a lot of practice on courses in Florida. He takes holes and hangs them out among the water and throws in splashes of sand just to keep you even more keyed up.

The 8th hole is a great par three playing to 199 yards from the back and a demanding 166 yards from the whites. This raised green is very large but it bends left out to the water and has huge bunkers to the front and back. The target seems very small as you try to block out all the trouble around it.

In fact, all of the five holes that run along the mile of shoreline make deft use of the natural hazard. The par 5 18th is a dogleg right with bunkers in the middle of the landing area and a split fairway that tempts to the H20. Even if you play it safe to the left, the lake lurks near the green as you think about going for this big green. This final hole makes for a great close to this fun, challenging, and beautiful course.

Las Vegas Golf Course - Reflection Bay Golf ClubReflection Bay Golf Club is just the beginning of things to come at Lake Las Vegas. This September, the second public course will open. The Falls at Lake Las Vegas is a Tom Weiskopf design layout that will serve as the greeting card to the huge complex. Early looks of this demanding track reveal a course that is a blend of flowing holes in a desert landscape that link to unbelievable golf holes that drop off of massive cliffs which provide phenomenal views. Later this fall, work will also begin on the first of what may become three Tom Fazio designs at the far end of the lake.

"We are trying to maximize our location for both golf and real estate and that will dictate what else we will do here in the future. We have the potential to do more golf courses and we will see what the market demands. Our goal is to create a special atmosphere that will last for generations" explained Director of Golf John Herndon.

Las Vegas Golf Course - Reflection Bay Golf ClubThat goal is expanding right now. By next year, the resort will expand with the addition of a 350-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel, a 125,000 square foot Mediterranean village, 800 luxury condominium units, a 40,000 square foot casino, and a 30,000 square foot world class spa. Lake Las Vegas Resort is growing in leaps and bounds and is certainly on its way to becoming one of the most talked about golf resort destinations in the West. There is no better way to begin to grasp the vision than to play Reflection Bay Golf Club.

DIRECTIONS- From the Las Vegas Strip take Interstate 15 South to Route 215 East. This road turns into Lake Mead Blvd. Follow road through town of Henderson to the Lake Las Vegas Resort entrance.

Doug Saunders, Contributor

Doug Saunders has covered more than 20 major championships and his unique perspectives on the game have appeared in numerous publications including Golf World, GolfWeek, Golf Course Management, Golf Course News, Golfdom, and the USGA Golf Journal. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, California Golf Writers, and the Sierra Nevada Golf Course Superintendents Association.


 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Lake Las Vegas Exits Bankruptcy

    David wrote on: Jul 2, 2010

    Lake Las Vegas has exited bankruptcy.
    The current owners of the Falls and Reflection Bay Golf Course have been busy during the past month fertilizing, watering and grooming the courses. They look ready for play!
    Makes you wonder if they will be open soon?!?

    Reply

    • RE: Lake Las Vegas Exits Bankruptcy

      david M wrote on: Aug 24, 2013

      I hear that in 8 months reflection Bay will re open its doors ?

      Reply

  • no more reflection bay

    steve peacock wrote on: Feb 10, 2010

    I truly enjoyed playing there when I was in town and very much hope that it will reopen soon.

    Reply

  • no more reflection bay

    Stevo wrote on: Jun 26, 2009

    sadly this course will be closed soon too as announced in the las vegas sun.

    Reply

    • RE: no more reflection bay

      Cliff Hillington wrote on: Jul 2, 2009

      No more for the moment but watch some big conglomerate step in, buy it all up and start it all over again but do it the right way. This is America folks, everyone (even corporations) wants a deal and now it's about to happen with Reflection Bay. Someone's coming to the rescue, mark my words.

      Reply

  • A new hat

    Colin Gordon wrote on: Jul 31, 2008

    During my visit to your course I purchased a hat.I was wondering if there were any more left.It was some what cowboy in nature.You could soak it down and it would retain the coolness for quite some time.Buy the way we really enjoyed your course and will definately play it again
    Thankyou

    Reply

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