Rio Secco Golf Club: Tiger's course record 64 is probably safe at this Las Vegas gem
HENDERSON, Nev. - It doesn't take more than a couple holes to realize Tiger Woods' course record 64 at Rio Secco Golf Club is probably safe.
But there it is, his hole-by-hole score plastered at the bottom of every scorecard. Woods has played many rounds here, thanks to his relationship with former coach Butch Harmon, whose golf school is still at the club.
He set the record in 2000 just a week before competing in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and won by 15 shots. It seems as though Rio Secco caught Tiger at his best that week.
From the tips, this Rees Jones design, known best as the designer who ensures potential U.S. Open venues like Torrey Pines and Bethpage Black are up to snuff, is among the most formidable tests of golf in Las Vegas. The course plays 7,332 yards from the championship tees and a still stern 6,900-plus from the men's.
The golf course also offers some of the best collections of 18 holes in the area, thanks to its dramatic and rugged setting in Henderson, in the foothills overlooking Las Vegas. The course is grouped into three parts: six holes on high ground towering over the Las Vegas Strip in the distance, six holes playing through dramatic desert canyons and a final six playing through more open, desert wash.
After a forgiving first hole - a modest par 4 playing downhill toward the strip - Rio Secco shows its teeth in a hurry, all the more reason for a good warm-up before your round. No. 2 is the course's No. 1 handicap hole and also the longest par 4 at 489 yards.
While this hole demands brawn, the delicate par-3 third tests your mettle. It's a short but tricky shot - all carry over a ravine to a shallow green hugging the edge.
The par 3s at Rio Secco are definitely among its best attributes for both variety and challenge. The best is the par-3 15th hole, playing straight downhill to a green tucked beneath a rocky, steep desert hillside - where club selection is no easy task.
But Jones built a golf course that can yield its birdie opportunities, too - or in Tiger's case, eagle opportunities. The par-4 10th hole is drivable for longer hitters in the right conditions at 378 yards from the championship tees. Tiger greened it here and made his putt for a routine two. For the rest of us, a birdie-three is certainly in the cards with a good tee ball and a stiff wedge.
While shorter than the 10th, the shortest par 4 on the course isn't so easy. No. 13 is just 329 yards, but the green is steeply elevated and guarded with plenty of sand traps in front.
Rio Secco culminates with back-to-back par 5s, and while the 18th is more than 100 yards longer, that's misleading. The 17th plays straight uphill while the 18th plays down. They also head in opposite directions, so if the wind is in your face on the 17th, chances are you have a better shot at hitting the 18th in two, despite a length of 600-634 yards.
Rio Secco Golf Club a Las Vegas thrill ride
Remarkable Rees Jones hole variety set in three different theaters, complimented by top-tier conditioning, makes Rio Secco one of the most acclaimed golf courses in Las Vegas. It also features top-quality conditioning from tee to its smooth and fast bentgrass greens.
Rio Secco is owned by Harrah's, along with another of Las Vegas' top golf courses, Cascata in Boulder City. Facilities here include the Butch Harmon Golf School, not to mention complimentary range balls with your green fee plus a few bottles of water in your cooler on those hot summer days. Located in the 30,000-square-foot European-style clubhouse, Janelas Restaurant serves up full pre-round breakfasts to post-round dinners.
Rio Secco is also famous in Las Vegas for its T-Mates program, which provides beautiful women as your golf concierge/hostess/forecaddie (not to mention eye candy) during your day at the club. T-Mates are $200 and must be reserved in advance.
August 19, 2008