Rio Secco Golf Club: Hang on for the golf ride of your life

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

HENDERSON, Nev. -- If you've never played Rio Secco Golf Club before, here's one hint: Buckle up and be prepared for a wild -- and stunning -- ride.

18 Holes | Resort | Par: 72 | 6992 yards
Rio Secco Golf Club - hole 3
While there are 18 impressive holes at Rio Secco G.C., it's the par 3s that will test players.
Rio Secco Golf Club - hole 3Rio Secco Golf Club - Hole 16Rio Secco Golf Club - hole 14Rio Secco Golf Club - T-Mates

This Rees Jones design can stretch to 7,313 yards from the tips. The design, carved through the desert, is both scenic and challenging from start to finish.

"The course really tests players from tee to green," said Charles Packard, head golf professional. "Whether you're a high-handicapper or a scratch player the course is a great challenge that players will really enjoy."

Rio Secco Golf Club: Tough par 3s

While there are 18 impressive golf holes at Rio Secco Golf Club, it's the par 3s that will test players as they stand on the tees of these four impressive designs. All four can be as tough as they are beautiful.

The third and 12th holes play over ravines, while the seventh plays tantalizingly close to a deep-blue pond. They are quite the test, but playing from the proper set of tees makes the journey easier and the score rewarding.

While those three can be tough, it's the par-3 fourth that will leave players speechless. Playing 189 yards from the tips, players take aim at a green tucked at the base of a mountain. There's a bail-out area short and left, but long -- and especially right, onto the mountain -- will lead to trouble. Stand on the tee for a moment before you swing and take in the beauty of the stark contrast between the brilliant green of the grass and the desert surroundings.

It's not just Rio Secco Golf Club's par 3s that require accuracy off the tee. Take the par-4 11th, for example. Playing 478 yards, this dogleg right hole is a stunner when it comes to design. The perfect shot is a fade around a mountain on the right side that juts out menacingly into the fairway.

On the left are four bunkers in the 200- to 230-yard range that have also swallowed their fair share of tee shots. Stripe a drive down the middle, and you've still got a long iron or hybrid into a severely undulating green with bunkers right and long. Post a par or birdie here and your reward: A meeting with that par-3 12th and a knee-knocking tee shot to a lightning-quick green that has seen more than its share of three- (and more) putts. Good luck.

Players will find the rest of their round on Rio Secco just as exciting. It's a shotmaker's delight as the layout winds over, around and through arroyos, canyons and desert. Be prepared for the ride -- and round -- of your life.

The Butch Harmon School of Golf at Rio Secco

On the opposite end of the Rio Secco driving range is the home of golf's top teacher and his teaching facility -- the Butch Harmon School of Golf.

It's here where pros and amateurs will get words of wisdom from the man who helped two players reach the status of No. 1 golfer in the world: Greg Norman and Tiger Woods.

It's not unusual to see Joe Amateur working on his game right next to the likes of Natalie Gulbis or Stewart Cink. Two- and three-day schools are available, and Harmon and his staff are dedicated to taking your game to the next level.

You'll go through a VIP experience -- including your stay at a Harrah's property.

Rio Secco Golf Club: Oh, those T-Mates

You've heard about them. You've seen the pictures. Now it's time to test them out.

We're talking about Rio Secco's T-Mates. Those lovely ladies who can talk golf with the best of them -- and they also have the caddie skills to prove it. They will not only help you navigate your way around Rio Secco Golf Club, they will do it beautifully.

Rio Secco Golf Club: In the clubhouse

Janelas Restaurant & Bar takes center stage in the massive 37,000-square-foot clubhouse.

It's a great place for that before-round breakfast (check out the cinnamon-swirl French toast), that post-round lunch (the one-pound Harmon burger will fill you up) or that wedding or other special occasion.

Rio Secco Golf Club is also home to the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge that features PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Champions Tour players competing head-to-head for charity. It's a chance for fans to see their favorite players up-close and inside the ropes.

Rio Secco Golf Club: The verdict

Rio Secco Golf Club has it all -- amazing course, wonderful practice facility and an attentive staff.

No detail is overlooked. From the time you drive up until your trunk slams and you leave, you'll feel like you're the most important player at the course. And to the staff here, you are.

Packard said: "It makes me proud to work here knowing the staff takes so much pride in making sure our guests feel welcome and have a great time, whether they are from here or visiting Las Vegas."

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

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