A Sampling of the Best Par-5's in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS - Legendary golf course designer Robert Trent Jones Sr. once said that the most basic element of any good par-5 golf hole is a risk/reward opportunity. If average players can consistently get on the green in two shots, the hole is poorly designed and simply serves as an ego booster, according to Jones.
Par-5's are also a chance for golf course designers to flaunt their creativity. With at least two, and typically three fairway shots to be taken in regulation, the par-5 is a empty canvas waiting to receive a dogleg here, a blind shot there, bunkers, lateral hazards and other tools of the course design trade.
Some par-5's are as complicated as Russian novel, others are straightforward and simple. Las Vegas, with its strong sampling of some of the industry's best architects, has a collection of three-shotters that can go toe-to-toe with any golf destination in the country.
In his prime, Arnold Palmer was as long off the tee as anyone playing the game. So when it comes to his course designs, Palmer isn't afraid to mix in a couple long, difficult par-5's. The par-5, 557-yard 17th hole at Angel Park Golf Club Mountain Course is the second toughest hole on this Palmer designed track that palys slightly longer than its sister course, the Palm.
From the back tees, Palmer presents long hitter with a choice right from the onset. An arroyo bisects the fairway and is reachable with a 270-280 yard poke. Break off a dying fade, though, and the arroyo can also come into play on the second shot.
The 17th at Angel Park's Mountain Course is an interesting par-5, in that it front-loads the risk/reward at the beginning of the hole, rather than saving the decision making for the penultimate or final approach shot. Once the arroyo is negotiated, most players are left with a nice wedge or 9-iron into a generous green.
Las Vegas National Golf Club is as close to an historic golf course as you'll find in Sin City. The classic Bert Stamps layout was in the Las Vegas Invitational rotation for a number of years. The par-5, 550-yard 18th hole is one of the best finishing holes in Las Vegas, although the surroundings smack of Florida rather than the desert.
The hole is a dogleg right that is guarded by two lakes on the right side of the fairway that are typically in play. Two relatively benign bunkers flank the hole to either side, but are easily avoidable with approach shots from high irons.
Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas Resort is a Jack Nicklaus designed course that is widely recognized as one of the area's best golf courses. The scenery is breathtaking, the earth moving dramatic, and the golf is championship caliber.
One hole that brings it all together is the par-5, 528-yard 5th hole. Typical of Nicklaus courses, the fifth plays from an elevated tee that let's players unsheathe their driver and enjoy the view and the landing area is almost 40 yards wide, just in case you have a patented Golden Bear power fade in your repertoire.
If you miss out on Nicklaus' generosity off the tee, you will find yourself in trouble; a fairway bunker runs along the left side of the hole and a canyon runs along the right side from tee to green. A 40-foot cascading waterfall sits behind the small, undulating green and pours into a stream that protects the entire right side. Favoring the left side of the hole is a bit risky, but it's the only way to get on in two.
The Revere at Anthem is one of Las Vegas newer, and most dramatic upscale daily fee golf courses. The design comes courtesy of Billy Casper and Greg Nash and the layout is carved right out of the craggy rocks of the valley. The majority of the tee boxes at Revere are elevated and play down hill in classic resort course fashion.
True to form, the Par 5, 489-yard, 7th hole plays downhill off the tee to a large fairway that collects most decent drives. Long hitters must be cognizant of an outcropping that juts into the fairway about 225 yards from the green. Though it's not ridiculously long, the 7th is best played as a traditional three-shotter due to the fact that the second and third shots play uphill and about two extra clubs long.
Players may have a lot on their minds other than scoring when visiting Wolf Creek Golf Course at Paradise Canyon. This Dennis and Jon Rider designed course features 18 signature caliber holes on a layout described by many players and critics as one of the most beautiful desert courses in the state.
The par-5, 554-yard 12th hole features an incredible view from atop an elevated tee box, and requires an accurate drive that avoids the long, narrow lake on the left side of the fairway and the sandstone canyon walls on the right. Long hitters will usually be able to uncork 300-yard drives from the hole's downhill runway, but with 250 plus yards remaining and a narrow fairway on the approach, a lay-up shot is the smart play for 99 percent of players.
January 1, 2003