There's plenty of sand, and it's easy to find at the popular Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas

By Murray Anderson, Contributor

LAS VEGAS, NV -- Sand is expected on a beach vacation or as part of a child's backyard play area. And a little is expected during a visit to the golf course, but Siena Golf Club makes it virtually impossible to avoid some quality time in the sand.

The Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley designed course has gone overboard with the bunkers. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based design team built the course with a whopping 97 white-sand bunkers.

"With a site like that (a housing division), you have a lot of single corridors directing play," Schmidt said. "There were no natural features, so you didn't get any contrast and didn't get to make a statement. We used the bunkers to try to have some variety. Variety with the tee shot, second shot and right and left of the hole."

Mission accomplished. From the first tee shot to the final approach shot on No. 18, white sand stands in the way of a great round of golf.

"We've got generous rolling fairways, and there's not too much out there that's going to beat up the golfers if they stay in the fairway," said Mick Toscano, director of sales at Siena. "So we've got to penalize the golfers that stray off the fairways, and we do that with the 97 bunkers and six water features."

Siena opened in January 2000 with nine holes and the back nine made its debut in June 2000. A temporary clubhouse was used for two years until the new Tuscan-style 14,000-square-foot facility was done in June of this year.

"Now with the new clubhouse we truly offer a total experience from the time the golfer drives up to the time they leave," Toscano said. "Each golfer is given a Siena ball marker, bag tag and divot repair tool. And their name is waiting for them on their cart."

The course features five sets of tee boxes for golfers of every skill level and measures 6,843 yards from the back tees and 4,978 from the forward tees. Distance off the tee box is not a priority at Siena.

"The strategy to be used out here is placement is the priority, not distance," Toscano said. "If you can place the ball where you want and avoid those bunkers, you can score well."

The course is in outstanding condition from the well-manicured rye grass fairways to the slick bent grass greens. The Las Vegas theory of "all putts break toward the valley" can throw off some reads on Siena's greens.

Siena is surrounded by the Spring Mountains and offers some great views of the Las Vegas strip.

One of the great views comes from the tee box at the par-3, No. 5 hole. The putting surface on the 159-yard hole can almost be labled an island green as water comes into play on three sides.

Of course sand sits in front of the green, making the shot to the undulating putting surface even more intimidating.

No. 9 will leave an impression as water lines the entire left side of this 420-yard, par 4. Accuracy off the tee box is essential as bunkers play havoc with anything to the right.

"Each hole really has its own identity," Toscano said. "While bunkers might be extremely prevalant on one hole, water might be featured on the next one. With the white sand mixed in with the green grass and six water features we think it will be an aesthetically pleasing round of golf."

With the pleasing aesthetics and reasonable rates, Siena might be too popular for its own good. The course is regularly packed with up to 200 rounds a day. Waits should be expected on many holes.

Along the back nine, expect the par-5, No. 12 to be a test.

The 12th hole is reachable in two shots, measuring just 506 yards from the back tees. Water hugs the left side of the fairway and a slew of bunkers are waiting for any shots that fall short and left of the green.

"It's a forced carry over water off the tee box and of course it is well bunkered throughout the fairway and the green," Toscano said.

The age-qualified homes are 60 percent built out at Siena so construction noise is prevalant. But more than the noise, it is the sloping greens and bunkers that can add a few strokes to the scorecard.

Where to Eat

Siena's own Siena Bistro offers Italian specialities moderately priced for enjoyment before or after a round. The chicken-alfredo pizza is highly recommended.

The newly finished clubhouse is also an ideal place for weddings, receptions and large parties. The patio area overlooks the course's Lake Siena and features outstanding views of the neon lights of the Strip.

Where to Stay

According to Toscano, any casino/resort in Las Vegas can help the traveler with tee times and rates at Siena.


From the Las Vegas Strip: Go south on Las Vegas Boulevard to Interstate 215 and go west. Take I-215 about 12 miles to Town Center Drive. Turn left (south) on Town Center Drive and continue to Siena Monte Avenue and turn left. The golf course is on the right.

From McCarran International Airport: Follow the signs to I-215 West. Take I-215 West for about 13 miles to Town Center Drive. Turn left (south) on Town Center Drive and continue to Siena Monte Avenue and turn left. The golf course is on the right.

From I-15: Take I-15 South to I-215 West. Take I-215 about 11 miles to Town Center Drive. Turn left (south on Town Center Drive and continue to Siena Monte Avenue and turn left. The golf course is on the right.

Murray Anderson, Contributor

Murray Anderson attended Imperial Valley College for two years and then California State University, Fullerton. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in communications in 1992 with an emphasis in journalism. He began his journalism career at the Imperial Valley Press newspaper as a sports writer and later became a full-time news writer, then sports writer and eventually sports editor.

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