Design of the times: Las Vegas golf-course architects make their marks, from A to Z

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- Golf in Sin City runs the gamut when it comes to the top designers -- and others just entering the game.

Arroyo Golf Club - No. 18
Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock is one of three Arnold Palmer-designed golf courses in Las Vegas.
Arroyo Golf Club - No. 18TPC Las Vegas golf course - No. 18Silverstone Golf Club - Valley course - hole 2 greenLas Vegas Paiute Golf Resort - Sun Mountain - hole 17Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas - 18th holeBali Hai Golf Club in Vegas - 16thDesert Pines Golf Club in Las Vegas - 18th

From A to Z (with a couple missing letters), here's a rundown of some of golf's greatest who have left their mark -- or marks -- on the Las Vegas golf scene, along with a few unknowns who still made an 18-hole impact.

A -- Arnold Palmer. This one's a no-brainer. From (Angel Park's Mountain course and Palm course) to Red Rock Country Club's Arroyo golf course, the King added his crowning touch three times in Vegas. And that's not to mention the Oasis Golf Club in Mesquite.

B -- Bobby Weed. One of the top golf courses in the area, TPC Las Vegas (formerly TPC at The Canyons), came from combined effort by Weed and PGA Tour great Raymond Floyd. The golf course pleased the PGA Tour players and still provides all the challenge a player can handle.

C -- Robert Cupp. From the small at Angel Park's Cloud 9 and Callaway Golf Center, to the large, 27-hole design at Silverstone Golf Club, Cupp's designs fit Vegas to a T -- or in this case, a tee.

D -- Dye. Need we say more. Whether it's Pete himself designing Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Snow Mountain, Sun Mountain and Wolf courses, or Dye Designs at Desert Pines Golf Club, the Dye name is a solid fixture in Vegas golf scene.

E -- Ed Seay. While he may not rate as the most well known on the list, Seay helped design more than 300 golf courses, including the Oasis Golf Club in Mesquite with Arnie.

F -- Tom Fazio. If it's a big-name for which you're looking, here it is. Try Shadow Creek, (Primm Valley Golf Club's Desert Course and Lakes Course) and Wynn Golf Club -- four golf courses you've got to play to believe.

G -- Greg Nash. He teamed with Billy Casper to form a duo that knows no boundaries. Whether it's an executive golf course like Desert Willow or Eaglecrest or full-blown layouts like Highland Falls, Revere Golf Club and others, these two remain a true dynamic duo.

H -- Arthur Hills. He hit a home run with Legacy Golf Club and its truly only-in-Vegas design on the 10th hole. Its tees form the shapes of the four suits in a deck of cards.

I -- Ira Cluff. This is one you can use to stump your friends. Cluff, a former golf-course superintendent, teamed with Bob Baldock and Williams, Gill and Associates to design nine holes at Black Mountain Golf and Country Club. See, we told you they're not all household names.

J -- Jay Morrish. He's worked with the best -- Robert Trent Jones, George Fazio and Jack Nicklaus -- and made his mark at Painted Desert, one of Vegas' hidden gems.

K -- Kelby Hughes. Another relative unknown, Hughes co-designed Mesquite's Falcon Ridge Golf Club, a roller-coaster ride that takes players over and around the hillsides of Mesquite.

L -- Lee Schmidt. Another duo, Schmidt and Brian Curley, teamed to design Bali Hai Golf Club, right on the famed Las Vegas Strip. With two of the best finishing holes in Vegas, along with an island green, Bali Hai G.C. is a winner. Schmidt and Curley designed a few other top-notch venues including Siena Golf Club, a championship track, and executive layout Durango Hills.

M -- Johnny Miller. Welcome to Badlands Golf Club, Vegas' E-ticket ride, on which Miller worked with Chi Chi Rodriguez. If you're a fan of the big stick and letting it fly, steer away. This is target golf at its finest -- one of Miller's strong points.

N -- Jack Nicklaus. The Golden Bear struck gold in the Vegas area four times. Well, it's three now that Reflections Bay has temporarily closed. But with the Bear's Best golf course -- Nicklaus' collection of his 18 favorite designs in the West -- SouthShore Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas and Coyote Springs Golf Club, an hour north of the Strip, Nicklaus' efforts rank second to none.

O -- Cal Olson. /CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite provides another impressive display of routing that has made Olson a household name around the world.

P -- Gary Panks. Aliante Golf Club, one of Vegas' newest golf courses, opened in 2003. It showcases Panks' talents, including some of the top layouts in the Southwest. Think Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

R -- Rees Jones. You want high-profile? Try Cascata and Rio Secco, two of Vegas' highest high-profile golf courses. Wonderful designs and perfect conditions are the norm, as is Jones' great routing and design.

S --Bert Stamps. Stamps may not have the resume of Nicklaus or Palmer, but his design of Las Vegas National in 1961 stands the test of time. It's a tree-lined beauty and makes golfers think -- a great combination, especially here.

T -- Ted Robinson. When it comes to par 3s, Robinson scores an ace at nearly every turn at Rhodes Ranch Golf Club and Tuscany Golf Club. Long and short, they rate as challenging as any you'll find. And it's not just one par 3 on each course; it's most all of them.

W -- Tom Weiskopf. Another casualty of the economy, The Falls Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas, currently closed, is one that players love or hate. Strong elevation changes and panoramic views made this a must-play course. At least, once it was.

Z -- Fuzzy Zoeller. With Bobby Weed, Fuzzy helped design TPC Summerlin, which plays host to the PGA Tour stop in Vegas. They completed the design in 1991, eight years after Zoeller won in Vegas at the Panasonic Las Vegas Pro-Celebrity Classic.

There you have it, from A to Z. Sure, more designers could have made the list. Robert Trent Jones Sr. and his son, Robert Trent Jones Jr., co-designed Southern Highlands, but it just goes to show that if you want to make your mark -- no matter your field -- you better make it in Las Vegas. And these guys certainly have.

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has nearly 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 15-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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