South by Southwest in Nevada: The Fairways Less Traveled Offer Quality Golf, Plenty of Savings

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

MESQUITE, NV - The well-traveled fairways of Las Vegas are well traveled for a reason. The golf is incomparable. Moreover, the accommodations are lavish and amenities are unrivaled. All of this opulence, of course, comes at a price.

A round of golf at a top notch resort of daily fee course will run you between $100 and $250, depending on the season; a comfy room in a full service resort commands $150 to $250 a night; and lava rock treatments, shopping sprees at Caesar's Palace and the other creature comforts can push the final tab well over four figures for a long weekend stay.

It doesn't necessarily have to be this way.

If you are on a shoestring budget but still want to enjoy the sunny, dry weather of the Southwestern deserts during the winter months, take heart: Nevada plays host to a handful of out-of-the-way golf pitstops that feature quality courses, affordable accommodations and cheap, satisfying eateries.


Orientation: Laughlin sits about 100 miles south of Las Vegas on the banks of the Colorado River. About 8,000 full time residents call Laughlin home, and visitors seeking a taste of Vegas sans the crime, traffic and expensive hotel rooms will be pleasantly surprised. Getting to Laughlin is easier than it first appears. Inexpensive, non-stop air service to Laughlin/Bullhead International from four western cities via Air Laughlin is available with fares running as low as $99, round trip. By highway, Laughlin is accessible from Kingman, AZ via highway 68 and is about a three-hour drive from Flagstaff.

Where To Play: Desert Lakes Golf Course, across the river in Bullhead City, is a full-on Florida style course, replete with palm trees, lakes and fairways flatter than two-week old soda. The course has a strong local membership base that prefers early morning tee times, so brave the afternoon heat and you'll have the place to yourself. For a bit more of a challenge, some elevation changes, and a taste of desert, target golf check out Emerald River. The Mac Daddy track in town is the Mojave Resort Golf Club on the Mojave Indian Reservation. Think Palm Springs meets Las Vegas Paiute Resort. Cerbat Cliffs, located an hour east in Kingman, is worth the drive.

Sleep and Eat: The Edgewater Hotel (800.677.4837) is a 26-story, 1,400 room dandy with a slew of rooms with river views. All you can possibly eat is waiting for you at the "Grand Buffet," Laughlin's largest eatery. Flamingo Laughlin (888.662.5825) houses (gasp) 1,900 rooms in its twin turret, full service facility. The hotel is home to four restaurants, including the highly touted "Beef Barron."


Orientation: The town of Mesquite is about an hour north of Las Vegas, placing it just out of "suburb" status. It's approximately 90 miles from McCarran International Airport and is accessible via I-15 north (east). The town itself is an ephemeral collection of cookie cutter housing developments and seedy, neon lit gambling establishments. Over the past ten years, no town in the U.S. has grown faster than Mesquite. Over 15,000 people make their homes in this burgeoning burg on the Arizona/Nevada border. It also happens to be home to one of the state's best golf courses and a handful of other noteworthy tracks.

Where To Play: Any golf gorge to Mesquite should begin with a trip to the Wolf Creek Golf Club in Paradise Canyon. Wolf Creek was ranked as the second best course in Nevada by GolfWeek and third among Golf Digest's Best New American Courses. The irony? The course was designed by a non-designer. Developer Dennis Rider, the brainchild behind Wolf Creek, shadowed Arnold Palmer when the King was designing the nearby Oasis and Palms golf courses owned by Si Redd's Resort and Casino.

The course's most notable addition to the American golfing cannon is the 248-yard par-3 eighth hole, which features a 100-foot drop from tee box to green. Before Wolf Creek came along, Si Redd's Oasis Resort and Casino was the only game in town. The aforementioned Palms and Oasis courses are available for public consumption, and both layouts are worthy adversaries. The former has been dubbed as "Nine holes of beauty followed by nine holes of sheer terror," due to its languid front nine and its diabolical back. The Oasis is a veritable roller coaster ride through the hills and canyons surrounding Mesquite.

Sleep and Eat:The Eureka Hotel offers spacious, comfortable rooms at blue plate rates, and is conveniently located only a mile from the course. A casino sits next door, as is the norm in Nevada. The Eureka also has an onsite spa with licensed massage therapy. The Baileyi Bar and Grill at Wolf Creek is a great place to grab pub fare and a cold drink. Wolf Creek also has a limited number of golf villas and offers seasonal stay-n-play packages.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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