Cascata Golf Club: The ultimate Rees Jones experience
BOULDER CITY, Nev. -- Driving up to the gate at Cascata Golf Club in Boulder City, one can sense that greatness lies just beyond the wrought-iron gate. As the gate opens, you're invited into the inner sanctuary known to a select-few-guests and high-rollers of Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas properties.
Built at a cost estimated at $60 million, absolutely nothing has been forgotten on this ultra-exclusive layout that was built as the playground for the elite gamblers visiting and living in Vegas. Nothing is left to the imagination from the food (Special orders? No problem.) to the drinks (If you drink it, they can get it.) As you drive up to the front doors, the enormity of the clubhouse/restaurant is awe-inspiring. Cascata, Italian for waterfall, is appropriately named as a 418-foot waterfall flows down the mountainside and right through the clubhouse, adding another calming influence to this breathtaking experience.
"The best way to say it is that this is the ultimate golf experience," says Brian Hawthorne, director of golf at Cascata. The experience starts out quickly. An attendant steps to your car and whisks it away to the parking area. Your clubs wind up on the back of a cart, neatly cleaned and ready for action. Even your shoes are taken care of. They wind up in front of your locker in the massive clubhouse, neatly shined and re-cleated. As you sit down in front of the locker, you notice your name etched on the locker - a guest for the day at one of the most impressive courses in the world. The men's and women's clubhouses have every conceivable amenity you may need-from lotions to sunscreen to bandages. No detail is too small or overlooked.
After a breakfast fit for a king in the 37,000-square-foot clubhouse, you make your way to the cart area and head for the practice range at the base of Red Mountain, an elegant place in its own right. The range is tucked at the base of a mountain with shots aimed up the hill. Take as little or as long to hit as you'd like because at Cascata, there are no tee times. If you're ready to go, head to the first tee.
After a quick warmup, it's time for that ultimate outing. Standing on the first tee, the first thing you notice is that no other golfers or golf holes are visible. It's like your own piece of nirvana. It's peace and tranquility. The lush, green fairway stretches out in front of you, with brilliant, white-sand bunkers offering a stark contrast. Each fairway you'll encounter seems to be perfect in every detail. Greens, while undulating and fast, putt as true as any I've ever played. And the caddy each group takes out offers worthwhile advice that will knock strokes off your game and enhance your experience.
Your entire round likely will be played without ever seeing another golfer or another hole, it's that well planned out by Rees Jones. From the first to the 18th, there will be birdies and not necessarily made with a putter. The wildlife is abundant, the views stunning and the golf extraordinary. Here's a look at a few of the 18 masterpieces that Jones has created.
The first plays 400 yards, uphill. It's a great opening hole with a stream meandering down the left side and well-placed bunkers grabbing errant tee shots on the right. The green is smallish and if the pin is tucked front-left, that creek comes a little more into play. This is a good hole to start a round and a great chance to open with a birdie attempt.
Later on the front, the par-3 7th stops players in their tracks. It's a simple looking 154-yarder but it's anything but a pushover. A creek flows to the left of the green and in front. A mountain comes right up to the green on the right side and bunkers also wreak havoc with errant shots. What appeared to be an easy hole can suddenly turn into a nightmare with the wrong club selection. Hit the green though, and this smooth-putting green will give up its share of birdies.
While the front nine is an excellent test of golf, the back nine is even more impressive. More severe elevation changes, more risk/reward chances, more brilliance on the part of Jones. Take the par-4 14th hole for example. Playing 440 yards, a driver is a possibility, but water comes into play from tee to green. Hit 3-wood or a long iron to keep it in play. The green sits on the other side of a stream and is home to wildlife and many golf balls that came up short. The green, like most others on the course, will be quick.
The finale, the par-5 18th, will leave you gasping for breath. Not because of the views (although they are spectacular), but because of the drop in elevation from tee to green. Sitting some 200 feet above the green, the tee shot is the key. Feeling lucky? Grip it and rip it over the top of the mountain and hope you find the fairway down below. Oh, don't forget that stream meanders along the left side of the fairway and then cuts across the fairway to the right side some 300 yards off the tee. If you're more on the human side, a straight drive of some 260 yards sets up a nice layup to the left of a shimmering pond that guards the front of this green, setting up a nice approach shot to this undulating green. It's a great finishing hole for two reasons-it makes you think about your shots and you also will have a great opportunity to finish with that elusive birdie.
After the round, the clubhouse is an ideal spot to cool down and enjoy stunning views. Your clubs and shoes will be waiting in your car and it's off, back down the drive and out through the gate, leaving behind one of the finest courses you'll ever see or play. On your next trip to Vegas, if you've got the dough, they've got a golf course for you.
If you're at the course, the restaurant is extravagant. At your hotel on the famed Las Vegas Strip (Bally's, Caesars, Flamingo, Hilton and Paris), the choices are unlimited. At Caesars Palace, try 808 for some of the freshest seafood or Neros for contemporary American Cuisine. At Bally's, Al Dente showcases traditional Italian favorites and Les Artistes Steakhouse at Paris is a favorite.
May 5, 2004