Non-traditional Las Vegas golf courses? Try 'em, you'll like 'em

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS - Face it, you're a traditionalist. Change makes you shudder. Being different just doesn't suit you. You feel the same way about your golf courses. Consistency makes you feel right at home.

Badlands Golf Club
Badlands Golf Club is Johnny Miller's answer to the "E-ticket" ride at Disneyland.
Badlands Golf ClubBali Hai Golf Club - Holes 4-7Royal Links Golf Club - Road Hole

But we're here to shake things up. We're going to give you 10 Las Vegas golf courses that don't fit the norm. Step outside the box, and give these courses a whirl. Chances are you'll like what you see. But don't worry, your secret is safe with us.

Badlands Golf Club

This is desert golf at its finest. Badlands Golf Club is Johnny Miller's answer to the "E-ticket" ride at Disneyland. Tight fairways can wreak havoc with your scorecard, so think twice before pulling out the driver.

Badlands has 27 holes that require pinpoint accuracy from tee to green, so give it your best shot. Oh, and bring an extra sleeve or two of balls ... just in case.

Bali Hai Golf Club

Not everyone can say they have played golf right on the famed Las Vegas Strip. But such is the case at Bali Hai Golf Club. Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley took luxury to new heights.

Augusta white-sand bunkers and black volcanic-rock outcroppings add a stark contrast to the lush green fairways at Bali Hai Golf Club. Throw in caddies and a little gorse, and turn up the breeze, and you're ready for a golf experience worthy of being across the pond - but with the Vegas strip just minutes away.

Bear's Best Golf Club

This Jack Nicklaus design features 18 of his top golf holes from around the West. Montana, California, Mexico, Colorado ... there's a little of everything mixed in at Bear's Best Golf Club as Jack and his crew take you on a whirlwind tour. Beware of the black sand in bunkers from Old Works Golf Course (Montana) on two holes.

Black Mountain Golf & Country Club

On the surface, Black Mountain Golf & Country Club looks as traditional as they come: tree-lined fairways, greenside bunkers, true-rolling greens. It's 18 holes of solid golf.

But throw in the newest nine holes, a desert-style layout, and you have the non-traditional outing of playing nine lush green holes in stark contrast with target golf. Black Mountain is a great course for mixing and matching the nines.

Coyote Springs Golf Club

Another Nicklaus beauty, located an hour from Vegas, the Coyote Springs Golf Club is an oasis in the middle of the desert. Eleven lakes come into play, and the fairways here give new meaning to the word rolling.

Finding a level lie is almost next to impossible. And one thing most Nicklaus aficionados will notice: more dogleg left holes than they usually see.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

Now before you start screaming that Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort is traditional golf, think about it for a minute. When's the last time you teed it up without a housing project in sight?

This is 27 holes of amazing Pete Dye design with nothing but you and nature enjoying the day. A treacherous island green adds to the excitement, and it's certainly not something you see every day.

Rio Secco Golf Club

It's not every day you can walk into the clubhouse and see legendary instructor Butch Harmon on site. But that's the case at Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson. Rio Secco is home to 18 stunning holes by designer Rees Jones — with six holes winding through steep canyons, six holes rolling across plateaus and six holes meandering through desert wash.

So get ready to tee it up on a world-class course. And don't be surprised if Harmon (or one of his star-studded students such as Natalie Gulbis or Phil Mickelson) winds up sitting next to you having lunch.

Royal Links Golf Club

Not good enough to play in the British Open? No problem. Royal Links Golf Club features holes that are inspired by those played in the British Open rotation.

This links-style layout at Royal Links lets players tackle legendary golf holes, such as "The Postage Stamp" from Royal Troon Golf Club as well as St. Andrews' Old Course favorites "The Road Hole" and "Hell Bunker." Throw in caddies and a little gorse, and turn up the breeze, and you're ready for a golf experience worthy of being across the pond — but with the Vegas strip just minutes away.

Shadow Creek Golf Club

Tom Fazio's design is amazing. But it's also as secretive as many government agencies. The price tag at Shadow Creek Golf Club will scare away many players ($500 for a round of golf — now, that's not traditional), but the ambiance and the course are beyond belief.

The holes are designed so you feel like you're the only golfer on the course. Add in the wildlife that is abundant, and you've got one of the best golf experiences money can buy.

Wolf Creek Golf Club

Located in Mesquite, just up the road from Vegas, Wolf Creek Golf Club, a spectacular layout, resembles a roller coaster ride as tee shots are hit to fairways as far as 100 feet below. Some tee boxes could use an escalator to get to them, but once you reach the top, the views — and the fairways far below — are second to none.

There you have it: 10 courses that will intrigue and challenge traditionalists and non-traditionalists alike. One thing everyone will agree on is these 10 are a joy to experience.

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.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • RE- The perfect golf

    Jim Beatty wrote on: Sep 1, 2009

    Mid Feb. We went to Vegas ,for the TOUR IN The Desert I got our foursome tee times at Shadow Creek , Royal Links , Wolf Creek and Refection Bay. Shadow Creek was still 500.00 but well worth the money Mr Wynn got some Heaven in that Course , Royal Links Like being oversea in the desert Wolf Creek A Gem I still remember having our picture taken on the first Tee Reflection Bay another challenge in the desert that doesn't really look like Desert golf all the way around. I Tip My Hat To All Of These Courses And There Staff And Owners.
    Thanks To All Of You For A Vacation To Remember
    Jim Beatty