Playing golf in Las Vegas: Nine reasons to be thankful
LAS VEGAS -- The city of Las Vegas is unlike any other in the world, which means the golf scene is different as well. Golf courses and facilities aren't run-of-the-mill, just like the city.
But what makes Las Vegas unique is the overall setting. There is never a shortage of things to do, and you can always do them in style.
In much less time than it takes to play a quick nine holes before Thanksgiving dinner, here are nine things for which Las Vegas golfers can be thankful.
Las Vegas' premium golf courses
While many of the golf courses in the Las Vegas area command premium green fees, there are deals if you know when to play. No matter what, though, you can expect premium conditions. From Wynn Las Vegas to the great views of Revere Golf Club to the island vibe at Bali Hai Golf Club on the Strip, you can expect great conditions, premium service and a good time.
Las Vegas can be thankful for legalized gambling, because tax revenues have helped create great schools and other public utilities. Each year, more than $8 billion is wagered in Clark County. Las Vegas receives more than 36 million visitors per year, with the largest segment coming from California. The result is mega casinos, resorts, hotels and developments unsurpassed by anything in the world and a city that is unlike any other on earth.
Nice fall golf weather
While Vegas can be brutally hot in the summer (playing late or early is advisable), late fall is usually very pleasant. With highs ranging from the 50s to near 80 and little chance of rain, there's a pretty good chance you're going to have a great day on the links. As a bonus, most of the courses in Las Vegas are overseeded, so you're going to get your best course conditions around Thanksgiving as well.
Great restaurants in Las Vegas
There's hardly anything better than following a great round of golf with a great meal, and Vegas has plenty of great choices. But if you're looking to narrow it down, here are a couple of choices. Hussong's Cantina at Mandalay Bay has authentic Tijuana cuisine and terrific margaritas. If you're looking for a great steak, the possibilities are endless. If price is no object, there's Delmonico Steakhouse at the Venetian Resort. Owned and operated by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, Delmonico's delivers New Orleans-style specialties such as bone-in rib eye, double-cut pork chops or Delmonico chicken for two.
The VooDoo Lounge at Rio
There are lots of great lounges in Las Vegas, but one of the coolest remains the VooDoo Lounge at Rio -- 51 stories above the Rio Casino and Resort just off the Strip. This double-decker nightclub might have the best view in Vegas other than the Stratosphere. Here you can enjoy an exotic drink outside while meeting some of the most interesting and exotic people in Sin City. There's nightly entertainment, including bartenders who whip up specialty cocktails with the flair of a witch doctor.
Great instruction options
When visitors or residents of Las Vegas need help with their game, they've got plenty of great options. In fact, the area boasts some of the best instructors in the game. The Tour Academy at TPC Las Vegas is recommended, as is the Walters Golf Academy, which offers instruction at Royal Links Golf Club.
Cool, double-decker range at Desert Pines Golf Club
One of the best and coolest places to practice is at Desert Pines Golf Club, which has a lighted double-decker range. Open until 10 p.m., the upper deck has an automated system, where the balls tee themselves up automatically after using a pre-purchased card to activate it. Best of all, there's a misting system to keep you cool in the summer and heaters to keep you warm in the late fall and winter.
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
For more than 30 years the PGA Tour has come to Las Vegas. The current event is the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, played at the TPC Summerlin each October. Formerly hosted by entertainer Justin Timberlake, many of the top golfers in the world compete and help support the mission of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Designed by Bobby Weed and Fuzzy Zoeller, the 7,223-yard stadium course layout was built to accommodate golf fans with unrestricted views of tee shots and fairway approaches by using strategically placed spectator mounds and natural amphitheaters.
Freemont Street and other free attractions
Not everything in Vegas is pricey. In fact, with little or no money, it's easy to stay entertained. You can start with the Freemont Street Experience, a five-block area in downtown Las Vegas covered by a canopy of millions of lights with continuous shows each night. There's the Fountains of Bellagio, where millions of gallons of water are choreographed to music for regular shows until midnight, or the volcano show outside the Mirage. You can also walk through the Forum Shops and Fountains at Caesar's Palace, stroll through the Wynn Conservatory or watch the gondolas of Venice at the Venetian.