With five golf courses, Mesquite, Nevada breaks out of Vegas' shadow
MESQUITE, Nev. -- Rising from the dust of the Virgin River Valley just north of Las Vegas is a golfing destination poised to take its place on golf's treasure maps. It is a town of 15,000 people, 300 annual days of sunshine and five championship courses. Labeled by some as Sin City's "little brother", Mesquite's quaint, less flashy town resembles little of the big ticket up the road. Rather, it offers what Vegas can't: a scenic, natural, small town atmosphere.
Just 77 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Mesquite features five championship courses and another that is nearing completion. Just 12 years ago, the town of 2,900 had no stoplights and just one golf course. Now, Mesquite is a booming little oasis with five championship golf courses, four casinos, and a happening pulse.
The CasaBlanca, a resort with 500 deluxe rooms, a 40,000 square-foot casino, fine dining and all the other bells and whistles visitors to Nevada have come to expect, is Mesquite's cream of the crop. Casablanca's Golf Club, a 7,011-yard Cal Olson-design meanders through the Virgin River Valley. A number of holes skirt wetlands and water comes into play on thirteen holes in total. Proof they've thought of everything at Casablanca: Air-conditioned golf carts. Greens fees top out at $120 (less pricy for guests) on the weekend during peak season. Weekdays in the summer are just $55.
The Palms Golf Club
Just down the road from CasaBlanca is the oldest of the Mesquite courses: The Palms Golf Club, a part of the Oasis Resort. Opened in 1990, The Palms was the first course built in the area and features a dramatic back nine loaded with elevation changes. With a spine-tingling view and a rousing 115-foot drop to the fairway, the par-5 15th is a signature hole and probably the finest par-5 in Mesquite. A tad less extravagant than the other venues in town, the Palms Golf Club remains a good bet, cheaper than CasaBlanca and Wolf Creek with weekend peak rates at $85.
Mesquite's two other courses are located on the other side of Interstate-15, and you need to bring a thicker wallet when you cross the road. Wolf Creek at Paradise Canyon is a sensational track that parades through desert canyons, crosses creeks and lakes, and climbs atop desert mesas. Opened in 2000 and designed by the father-and-son team of Dennis and John Rider of Horizon Golf, Wolf Creek is worth the trip to Mesquite alone.
The Course was named one of the top three new upscale public courses in 2001 by Golf Digest, and anyone who plays will shout similar praises.
Some of the many highlights at Wolf Creek include the 11-story high tee on No.2, and the amazing par-3 8th, which features a green pinched in a sandstone pocket. While the incredible routing and fantastic vistas are certain to have you awestruck, the slope rating of 154 from the back tees might bring some anxiety when it comes time to tally the score. But don't worry, no one is going to force you to play from the tips, and the regular tees don't require Herculean carries. Whatever tees you choose, Wolf Creek is a "play at all costs" course when you're in Mesquite. A web special is currently available at the Wolf Creek website for $135 or a foursome for $400.
Oasis Golf Club
A desert golf oasis just isn't complete without a contribution from Arnold Palmer. Not surprisingly, Mesquite's offering from "The King" is heroic. The designed Oasis Golf Club cruises through sun-baked coulees and takes golfers on a roller-coaster ride through the desert. You'll want to have some film handy for a photo shoot on the 5th tee. An incredible par-5 that careens through a canyon, the 5th is about as dramatic as they come.
The Oasis Golf Club is home to an additional 9-hole course called The Vistas. Golfers can combine the Vistas Course and play the front nine of The Oasis to form what is called "The Vistas 18." Regardless of the combination, The Oasis also warrants must-play status in Mesquite. Green fees here are also on the pricey side at $140. (Rates drop significantly in summer months, but you might too. Temperatures in July are often well over 100 degrees).
The newest of the Mesquite courses sat uselessly for three years before opening this fall. The feel is much like its Wolf Creek neighbor, cutting through mountains and featuring sharp elevation changes. No. 6 is dramatic, featuring a 200-yard drop from tee to fairway. Greens fees for the new kid on the block are $70-80 this winter.
When the sun has set and nothing is left of golf but a little whiskey at the 19th, the night is just beginning. Whether its slots, blackjack, craps, or roulette you're after, the party in Mesquite is just beginning when twilight makes its last stand.
But it makes litle sense to come to Mesquite and not spend it outside. Until they allow for open-air blackjack around a campfire under the stars, you just may have to pass up the casino a few nights. During the day, horse riding tours are a great way to check out Mesquite's rugged, beautiful desert.
The Purple Fez Café: Located at the CasaBlanca resort, the 'round-the-clock café's big sell is the Steak & Lobster for $12.99. Purple Fez also has a wide variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner selections. The open and airy restaurant overlooks our beautiful lagoon pool set against a peaceful desert mountain backdrop.
Redd Room Steak House: Mesquite just looks like steak country, and this is the place to get it. This award-winning restaurant features top-notch steaks, prime rib, lobster, lamb chops, pasta, and seafood selections in a warm, inviting, albeit upscale atmosphere.
Directions: Mesquite is on I-15, about 77 miles north of Las Vegas, on the Nevada/Arizona border. Mesquite is serviced internationally by Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport.
May 16, 2005