Westside (golf) story: Summerlin explodes with quality course options

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- A "golf destination within a golf destination" is how local golf officials describe this links-loaded land just a chip shot west of Sin City. Anchored by the Sun Belt community of Summerlin, Vegas' westside has been one of the fastest growing areas in America's fastest growing city over the past decade.

"From what I understand it is the number one selling community in the country in terms of real estate and most those people are moving here for the golf," says Shane Arakaki, an assistant professional at Sun City Summerlin. "There are enough golf courses here to support a good sized population."

And a healthy of supply of traveling golfers, to boot.

Orientation

Summerlin is situated just minutes from the Strip, McCarran International Airport, and is even closer to downtown Las Vegas. The area has excellent freeway access, including 515/95 between Summerlin and downtown, and the 215, which runs north and south along Summerlin's western border. The terrain is primarily flat but becomes more treacherous and breathtaking as you venture west towards the Red Rock Mountains.

The Golf

The Tournament Players Club at Summerlin put this golf-rich enclave on the map. The Fuzzy Zoeller, Bobby Weed, and Raymond Floyd designed TPC layout has hosted the PGA Tour Championship and the Las Vegas Senior Classic and is the home course for the Las Vegas Invitational (Invensys Classic). Summerlin was thrust into the national spotlight when Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event (Las Vegas Invitational) at the TPC in 1995.

The Invensys Classic is now spread over three championship courses: the TPC Summerlin, TPC Canyons, and Southern Highlands. Only the Canyons course, however, is open to the public. But daily fee golfers take heart - a strong sampling of challenging, scenery-stocked courses are available for public consumption on Vegas' burgeoning westside.

One of the most talked about tracks in recent years is Badlands Golf Club, designed by two legendary names in golf, Johnny Miller and Chi Chi Rodriguez. Badlands hosted the 1997 USGA and the 2000 Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, and is widely considered Glitter Gulch's most outlandish desert target style course. The original 18 holes (the Desperado and Diablo nines) opened in 1995, and the Outlaw nine followed shortly thereafter.

Two Summerlin area facilities battle for the title of "most likely to keep you entertained and on property the entire weekend." Angel Park Golf Course, billed as Vegas' most complete golf experience, sports two 18-hole courses, a lighted par-3 course and an 18-hole putting course. Sun City Summerlin is home to three 18-hole circuits, Palm Valley, Highland Falls, Eagle Crest, all designed by Billy Casper and Greg Nash, and all eminently playable.

Two of Summerlin's newest courses also happen to be two of the hottest tee times in Sin City. Bear's Best, situated on the western outskirts, is an 18-hole tribute to Jack Nicklaus designed by (none other than) the Golden Bear himself. Siena is a Brian Curley-Lee Schmidt that is making considerable noise around the Vegas golf scene with its 97 pot bunkers, three-tiered greens and sublime conditioning.

Living on the links

Like so many golf destinations thirsty for year-round play, Summerlin entices its visitors to stay a while - a long while. The westside has experienced more golf course real estate development in the past decade than any other area of the United States. Private, country club style courses are as common as bustling public access tracks, should you opt for total relocation.

Red Rock Country Club is one of Summerlin's most sought after golf addresses. At the heart of the 738-acre desert oasis are two Arnold Palmer designed layouts, the Arroyo and the Mountain courses. Red Rock features 1,100 homesites, the majority of which afford views of lush green fairways.

Residents-to-be can choose from either a custom home option ($350,000-ish) or a semi-custom home option ($300,000-ish). The average home price is around $600,000, but more affluent buyers can opt for $2 million spreads that should make them the talk of the neighborhood.

Canyon Gate Country Club has (not so) quietly emerged as one of Vegas' most prestigious golf communities. If you want a taste of the lavish golf lifestyle the club has to offer you'll have to take a number. Currently, there are no lots remaining at Canyon Gate. But according to marketing and sales officials, between 25 and 40 houses are for resale at any given time.

The price tags on these homes - when they become available -- range from reasonable to over-the-top. The bottom-of-the-line single family detached dwelling runs just over a quarter of a million, while the premier properties go for $6 million and change. And for an initiation fee of $32,000 and monthly dues around $500 you can play till your soft spikes wear thin on the Ted Robinson designed course.

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 TravelGolf.com from 1997 to 2003.


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