Must-play golf courses near the famed Las Vegas Strip

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- You're in Sin City and looking to play a little golf. It's never a problem, with more than 50 golf courses in the area.

Bali Hai Golf Club - hole 18
The Pacific-themed Bali Hai Golf Club is right on the Las Vegas Strip.
Bali Hai Golf Club - hole 18Desert Pines Golf Club in Las Vegas - hole 18Las Vegas National Golf Club - Strip

Here are a few stunning must-play venues within a driver and 3-iron of Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the Strip. Well, they are if you're Dustin Johnson.

Bali Hai Golf Club: This one's easy, sitting right on the south end of the Strip. This tropics-themed course features brilliant white-sand bunkers, thousands of mature palm trees, black-rock volcanic outcroppings and an island green. And that's just the tip of the iceberg as the layout challenges players' shotmaking throughout the round.

Bear's Best Las Vegas: Just west of the Strip sits some of Jack's best work. If you must ask "Jack who?," stop reading now. Nicklaus has carved out 18 of his best golf holes from the West and placed them right smack in the middle of Vegas. From the black-sand bunkers of the Old Works Golf Course in Montana, to palm trees of PGA West in California, to pine trees from Castle Pines in Colorado, players see Nicklaus at his finest.

Desert Pines Golf Club: With a Carolina feel and a Dye-designed look, complete with signature railroad ties around bunkers, this golf course east of the Strip impresses with its challenge and beauty. The layout features two of the best closing holes in Vegas. The ninth and 18th share a pond as players approach the green.

Las Vegas National Golf Club: History and golf come alive just east of the Strip at this Bert Stamps-designed golf course. Las Vegas National takes players back in time to tree-lined, lush fairways where the Rat Pack once roamed. One of Vegas' oldest golf courses, Las Vegas National has played host to PGA and LPGA events. Tiger Woods teed it up here when he won his first tour event in 1996.

The Legacy Golf Club: Just west of the Strip sits an Arthur Hills beauty, The Legacy Golf Club. With a challenging layout, Legacy takes players on a beautiful, rolling ride complete with the world-famous 10th hole, a par 3 with tee boxes cut in the shapes in a deck of cards -- diamond, heart, club and spade.

Check out dynamic views of the Vegas area and the Strip, none better than from the par-5 fifth hole. In fact, the Stratosphere Tower in the distance serves as players' aiming points off the tee.

Revere Golf Club: Southwest of the Strip, Billy Casper and Greg Nash teamed to create a 36-hole masterpiece, the Revere Golf Club. The Lexington and Concord golf courses wind beautifully through the area, providing stunning views and amazing golf tests.

Both layouts offer holes with great risk-reward challenges. On the Lexington Course, the 489-yard, seventh -- the par-5 King's Chapel -- features a narrow but deep green, backdropped by water. On the Concord Course, the par-5 18th, called Independence, reaches 551 yards. The second shot -- if players are going for the green -- must clear a ravine that fronts the green and avoid nine bunkers.

Rhodes Ranch Golf Club: This Ted Robinson-designed beauty in southwest Vegas sports five amazing par 3s, including the 227-yard third. With water front and right and bunkers front and behind, it's tough and beautiful. Rhodes Ranch may be in the desert of Las Vegas, but water enters play on seven holes.

Royal Links Golf Club: A trip northeast of the Strip transports players across the pond to a Dye International links-golf paradise. Here's your chance to play golf holes inspired by the great ones -- the Road Hole and Hell Bunker from the Old Course at St. Andrews as well as the Postage Stamp from Royal Troon and masterpieces from Carnoustie, Royal Liverpool, Prestwick, Royal Lytham and others.

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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