An 18-point golfer's guide: Las Vegas Off Course

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

LAS VEGAS - This is the town where you can get a steak meal with all the trimmings and a $300 bottle of wine at 3 a.m. and a breakfast bargain at 6:30 p.m. The usual rules do not apply in Las Vegas. It's a desert spectacle where nothing's quite real, but nothing's quite out of reach either.

Forget the trite "What Happens Here, Stays Here" slogan. If you do your off-course planning right, you will want to remember much more than that show-stopping risk-reward par 4 from a Vegas golf trip.

Hotel rooms

Place to stay if you're filthy rich: Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay - Still the master at personal hospitality. Your treated much more like a number at the over-hyped competitor Wynn Las Vegas.

Place to stay if you just want others to think you're rich for a weekend: Wynn Las Vegas - The girls you meet from Kansas will be appropriately wowed.

Place to stay with a date: Mirage - Old school charmer still has some of the nicest bathtubs for two in town.

Place to stay with the family: Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas - Neat, nearby village, actual outdoor activities and a great childcare camp for when you want to get in your golf.

Place to stay for an unexpected deal: Aladdin - Underrated hotel right in the heart of the Strip has lower room rates and equal to better rooms than its nearby competitors.

Place to stay if you're simpatico with the Original Cheap Bastard: Luxor - Why go down to Motel 6 or Super Eight level when you can often garner rooms for under $60 in the pyramid?

Dining scene

Single best dining experience: Aureole (Mandalay Bay) - The cat-suited babes rappelling down the sides of the 42-foot tall glass enclosed wine cellar is just the start of the show.

The Jacques Cousteau hidden treasure award: Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill (MGM Grand) - In a sea of hoity-toity, over-priced copy restaurants, not to mention endless Wolfgangs themselves, this is the rare place that gives you really good food for decent value. All Vegas Wolfgangs are not created equal.

Best pure Vegas buffet: Bellagio - It's not cheap, but the king crab legs are big enough to frighten the "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" crew.

Most over-hyped restaurant ever: Bradley Ogden (Caesars) - Counting the ways this James Beard Award winner disappoints is like counting Terrell Owens' career tantrums.

Top cheap eats experience: A corn beef sandwich at Carnegie Deli (Mirage) - Not as consistent as its New York legend namesake, but it's close. And yes for Vegas, this qualifies as cheap.

Best people-watching spot where you can stomach the food: Mon Ami Gabi - Get a table outside. Don't get too caught up in the Bellagio fountains and you'll notice the celebrities around you.

The really important stuff

King poker room: Bellagio - This is Matt Damon and the local bartenders' first choice. Treats everyone with class.

Best roulette tables:: Mandalay Bay - They actually have enough that you can squeeze onto one on a Friday night.

Top sports book:: Caesars - Even with all the brash newcomers, it's no contest. You can bet anything here and the place is so huge it seems to dominate the casino.

Most overrated scene:: Hard Rock Café - The place to be only if you're a fraternity boy who fits every movie frat boy stereotype.

Where to dance and be discovered: Pure (Caesars) - Hollywood loves this night spot. Jason Giambi even went here to party when the steroid scandal became too much.

The escape-the-madness getaway: TheGrand Canyon's much closer than you think. Just expect to be craving neon after the first look.

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Las Vegas Golf

    Alicia wrote on: Sep 13, 2005

    So Chris HELP! Where would you suggest a planner take a group to golf in Vegas. During the past several months, you've certainly let us know where NOT to go... but what's a good course AND a good value?!?!


    • RE: Las Vegas Golf

      Tom wrote on: Oct 4, 2005

      I'd recommend Primm Valley. Two good courses, 30 minutes from the strip on IH-15 near the California border. (The courses are actually in California.)