Las Vegas' Siena Golf Club will send you to an Italian beach often

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Siena Golf Club's theme is all things Italian.

18 Holes | Public/Resort | Par: 72 | 6843 yards
Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas - 18th hole
A great finishing hole, the 400-yard, par-4 18th at Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas requires a long tee shot to have a chance for a decent look at the green.
Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas - 18th holeSiena Golf Club - 11th hole

I never realized there was so much sand in Italy.

A popular golf course with locals, partly because of the discounts it offers, the layout throws 97 sand bunkers at you, no matter which of the five sets of tee boxes you shoot from.

Siena Golf Club trickles through a retirement neighborhood within the master-planned Summerlin community, and with few natural desert features, architects Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley of Scottsdale decided all the bunkers were needed to give the course some variety and challenge.

The community is laid out nicely, however, with palm trees blending in with the earth-colored houses, and like most Vegas courses, mesas and mountains loom around you, with views of Red Rock Mountain and the Spring Mountains.

This upscale, daily-fee course opened in June 2000 about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip on the southwest edge of the Las Vegas Valley. In 2003 it was voted the "best value" by readers of Vegas Golfer Magazine.

Siena Golf Club's relatively flat layout means there are no forced carries or significant elevation changes like many desert courses, so the bunkers and water on six holes are really the only hazards to be avoided. Nor is it long at 6,816 yards. Keep it in the fairway here and you can score well.

Then again, if you push or slice, you'll almost certainly end up in a bunker. The big bunkers and narrowing fairways are balanced by the huge, undulating, sometimes three-tiered greens.

The bentgrass greens are fast, rolling between nine and 10 on the stimpmeter, according to Siena Golf Club Assistant Professional Jesse Grutz. And they all have another common characteristic.

"All the greens slope toward the Strip, so if you just look for the Stratosphere, you'll be all right," said regular Bob Hess, referring to the giant, nearly always visible landmark on The Strip.

"There always seem to be some tricky putts out there," Grutz said. "Hitting the right ball is crucial. If you hit it above the hole, you might have a tricky putt. Hitting it above the hole allows you to score better."

Siena Golf Club's ninth can be a tough hole, especially with the prevailing wind in your face.

"It generally does blow, and it changes directions with the seasons," Grutz said. "It's a long, uphill par-4, requiring a big tee shot. There aren't any fairway bunkers for a change, so you can use your driver, but at the same time the driver brings water and the far bunkers into play."

The pond is to the left, and you should use an extra club to reach the elevated green.

Siena Golf Club's par-3 fifth hole is over water and can also be tricky from any of the tee boxes. Depending on the wind, use anything from a 5-iron to a pitching wedge, to hit the green, which has water on three sides.

"It's deceptively hard to hit," Grutz said. "Don't hit too long left. It's difficult putting on the undulating green."

No. 11 has more than its share on bunkers, even for this course, and a steep slope in front of the green. No. 18 is a good finishing hole, a 400-yard par-4 that asks for a precision shot off the tee, since the right side of the fairway is heavily bunkered. It's a dogleg, but cutting it can be perilous because of yet more bunkers. The pin placement here can also be vexing.

Siena Golf Club: The verdict

Siena Golf Club's popularity can work to its disadvantage. With upwards of 200 rounds some days, Siena sees some heavy traffic.

Still, the service is excellent, with unlimited practice balls and ice chests on every cart. A nice touch is seeing your name on the cart. There are more challenging golf courses in Las Vegas at this price, but this is still a course you'll enjoy playing after you've played the others.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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