Don't overlook Fazio-designed Desert Course at Primm Valley Golf Club

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

PRIMM, Nev. -- Let's get one thing straight: Its name is the Desert Course. It's not a desert (read: target golf) course. The course at Primm Valley Golf Club, along with a second Tom Fazio layout -- the Lakes Course -- are both resort-style golf, plain and simple.

Primm Valley Golf Club - Desert Course - 9th green
On Primm Valley's Desert Course, Tom Fazio combined doglegs, elevation changes, undulating greens and deep bunkers.
Primm Valley Golf Club - Desert Course - 9th greenPrimm Valley Golf Club - clubhousePrimm Valley Golf Club - Desert Course - 10thPrimm Valley Golf Club - Desert Course - 9th

That being said, there's still plenty of trepidation in the golf world. The name "Desert Course" has struck fear into the hearts of many golfers.

Daniel Griffiths, visiting from London, was making a repeat visit to the Desert Course. And with good reason.

"I'm a high handicapper," he said. "This course's wider fairways suit me even though I do hit it pretty straight. Plus it's a relaxing round. You're on a golf course and there are no distractions around."

Not convinced? Well, grab your clubs and we'll show you what you've been missing.

Superb starting holes

The Desert Course, playing 7,131 yards from the tips, offers golfers a strong 1-2 punch to open the round -- as in the first and second holes.

When you step up to the first tee on the Desert Course, it's all right there in front of you: a wide, inviting fairway, brilliant white-sand bunkers, deep-blue pond, desert landscaping. Navigating it is a different story.

There's no gentle easing into the round here. The opening two holes will test players' shotmaking ability and nerves right from the start. The first hole (par 4, 433 yards) and the second hole (par 4, 435 yards) are mirror images of each other as they share a shimmering pond on the left side along with perfect bunkering. Needless to say, staying right is paramount. It not only keeps your golf ball dry, both approach shots open up from the right side.

After the opening two-hole challenge, Fazio gives you a dilemma at the par-4 third. Playing just 352 yards (and that's from the tips) it is driveable for big hitters from the forward tees. But bunkers everywhere and a severely undulating green make this a risky proposition. Take a hybrid or long iron off the tee and set yourself up for an easy approach shot. Take a good look at the pin position because one spot you don't want to be when you're putting for birdie (or par) is above the hole.

There are back-to-back scoring chances on this nine with the seventh and eighth holes, both long par 5s (530 yards and 565 yards). Both are reachable in two for big hitters, but well bunkered greens will catch errant approach shots and getting up and down can prove difficult.

Finish with a bang

On the back, it's a roller-coaster ride culminating with two great scoring holes. The 17th and 18th holes will give players two chances to finish with a birdie (or birdies). The 17th, a par 4 playing just 385 yards from the tips, has a bunker and a pond to the left, but more than enough room to the right. Take a hybrid off the tee and set yourself up with a wedge into this green that slopes from front to back.

The 18th, called Primm Perspective, is a par 5 reaching 517 yards. It's reachable in two, but it takes two perfect shots to avoid trouble. A stream, plenty of bunkers (especially around the green where it appears there is more sand than grass), rolling fairways and a large green will give players options galore. But with a myriad of massive greenside bunkers, the smart play is to lay up with the second shot and go after the flag with a wedge for the third shot. It's a definite birdie hole, but there are certainly big numbers waiting for those who get too greedy.

In the Primm Valley clubhouse

From shirts to shoes to shades, the Primm Valley golf shop is ready to handle your needs/wants when it comes to golf necessities. The restaurant is a great spot to grab a hot dog between nines or to sit around with a meal and a cold drink after the round. The banquet facility can also handle those special occasions.

Primm Valley Golf Club's Desert Course: The verdict

Fazio has done a masterful job on Primm Valley Golf Club's Desert Course of combining doglegs, elevation changes, undulating greens and deep bunkers to create a golf course that is a top-notch test. But it will also penalize players following errant shots.

The Lakes Course at Primm Valley gets most of the kudos when players talk about the two layouts. But the Desert Course won't take a backseat to any layout when it comes to variety and challenge.

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.

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