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It’s not surprising that Las Vegas, a vacation destination known for its sunny weather and recreation, would boast more than 50 golf courses — some of them among America’s most praised. But visitors might be more surprised by how easy it can be to access these plush greens. Here’s a look at a few of the many courses to consider, and tips for how to get in on the golf action.
Where to go
Golf in Las Vegas isn’t about dropping greens into the middle of the desert. Courses tend to be carefully crafted to take advantage of their sites. With the top courses setting a high bar for quality, it would be hard to find one that wasn’t worth recommending. Many are open to the public and cater to golfers of varying abilities and goals, and all are open year-round.
Rio Secco Golf Club takes advantage of its location in the shadows of the Black Mountain Range southeast of town. Its varied terrain of desert, plateau, and canyon keeps the golf interesting and the views ever-changing. Although the Rees Jones design can be a tough course of up to 7,400 yards, it also offers flexibility with lots of teeing options.
Greens at Desert Pines Golf Club, northeast of the Strip and not far from Downtown Las Vegas, is modeled after Augusta, which means you might find yourself forgetting where you really are as you watch your ball soar above pine trees or land on bent grass. The course is also designed to mix fun and competition, with generous fairways, creative bunkers and challenging greens.
Royal Links gives visitors a taste of golf’s roots from the other side of the Atlantic. Its 18 holes are modeled after British Open courses, including Carnoustie and the Old Course at St. Andrews. A call box at the ninth tee lets golfers order a mid-round snack delivered to the course.
According to the folks at Rhodes Ranch, course designer Ted Robinson once said these were the best par-3s he ever designed. The course, nestled at the base of the Spring Mountains, plays off its location with lots of water features and rolling fairways. “No matter how good or bad you are, you’ll have fun there,” one local recently noted.
With its entrance next to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, Bali Hai Golf Club is the only course with frontage on the Las Vegas Strip. It has a South Pacific vibe with more than 100,000 tropical plants and volcanic rock incorporated into the par-72 design. The course was designed to grow more challenging the further players get into the round, making them comfortable and then offering up new surprises.
For a taste of “old Vegas,” head to the city’s oldest course, Las Vegas Golf Club, established way back in 1938. Right outside Downtown Las Vegas, it’s a forgiving blend of challenging bunkers, traditional greens, and wide fairways. The mature cottonwood and pine trees add to both the forest-like atmosphere and the relaxing vibe. You can imagine the city’s early movers and shakers talking business in this exact spot, which also made a memorable appearance in the movie “Casino.”
Summerlin, a golf-centric planned community west of Downtown and not far from the foothills of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, is home to some of the valley’s best courses.
TPC (Tournament Players Club) Las Vegas is widely known as one of the must-do courses in town. That’s partly because of the quality of the play on this par 72, 7,080-yard layout and partly because here, golfers can “play where the pros play.” Views of Red Rock Canyon’s soaring crimson cliffs on one side and the glittering Las Vegas skyline on the other are also hard to beat. Golfers will likely see birds among the trees as TPC is a recognized Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
A 36-hole Arnold Palmer design, Angel Park Golf Club is divided into the tropical-themed par-70 Palm Course and the modern par-71 Mountain Course. Plus, Angel Park throws in the 12-hole Cloud Nine Short Course and a nine-hole putting course just for fun. It’s also got a 3,000-square-foot putting green, a practice chipping area and an event lawn, all lighted in the evening. At 3,000 feet, it sits above the valley with views all around.
The 18-hole Arnold Palmer-designed Arroyo Golf Club is part of Red Rock Country Club but open to the public. It’s known for challenging play and rugged scenery as well as great views of Vegas (especially at hole seven). It’s also easy to combine an outing at Siena with its sister course, the 18-hole Siena Golf Club, a serene oasis at the foot of the Spring Mountains. (Siena is also home to Las Vegas’s Foot Golf course — think soccer-golf mash-up.)
Golf Summerlin has three public courses: par-60 Eagle Crest, par-72 Highland Falls, and Palm Valley, each with its own challenges and views. The courses are home to family-friendly tournaments and events like the upcoming GlowBall Night Golf on Oct. 11 benefiting Three Square Food Bank.
One option for satisfying a golf fix: Attend a tournament. Some visitors come to Las Vegas just for tournaments, but it’s also possible to buy tickets at the last minute. TPC Las Vegas’s sister course, TPC Summerlin, will host the 2014 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, part of the FedEx Cup series. Tickets start at $26.50.
The Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge comes to Rio Secco Nov. 11-12, pitting PGA, LPGA, and Champions Tour players against each other in a charity tournament raising money for adoption services. The Southern Nevada Golf Association has its own series of amateur tournaments.
Your hotel or resort can facilitate rounds on regional courses. Check the property’s website for golf packages, or call to ask about help with a tee time. Many of the city’s casinos, resorts, and hotels have connections with golf courses and concierges will often set up tee times for you. Some will also arrange transportation to and from a course.
For example, Caesars Entertainment owns Rio Secco and its high-end sister property, Cascata. While anyone can play the courses, Caesars properties offer golf concierge services and transportation for guests. The luxurious Shadow Creek is only for high rollers, the rich and famous and select MGM Resorts guests, who have their own limousines and caddies for the day’s outing.
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort offers golf packages with TPC Las Vegas. The Venetian offers packages for Greens at Desert Pines Golf Club, and these are just two examples. Golf courses also often team up with other Vegas entities to offer special deals combining golf with, say, a helicopter tour or bachelor party package.
Most courses make it easy to reserve a tee time online. Consider golfing in the evening — some courses, including Angel Park Golf Club and the nine-hole Callaway Golf Center near the Strip — are lighted when the sun starts to go down. Final points: Be sure to stay hydrated, and, of course, always tip the drink attendant.
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A helicopter flies above the High Roller observation wheel and other brightly lit landmarks on the Strip. (Photo: Courtesy Maverick Aviation Group).
Las Vegas is a bucket-list city, where adrenaline junkies can fulfill a half dozen lifelong dreams in a single weekend. Always wanted to soar in a helicopter? Jump out of a plane? Zoom around a NASCAR track? No problem. An ever-growing number of local outfits are springing up to give tourists that “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this” feeling. And most of the fun comes in bite-size chunks that have you back to your hotel in a matter of hours.
Sky’s No Limit
Aside from the workaday world of commercial airlines, few of us spend much time airborne. But the clear, wide-open skies above Nevada’s vast desert are a blank canvas for artists in flight.
Helicopter rides are a Vegas staple; hop aboard a Maverick Helicopter chopper for a short tour of the Strip (especially romantic at night, when the city glitters below) or a bird’s-eye sweep of the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. There’s nothing quite like that floating sensation as the craft lifts off like a giant dragonfly—any nervousness quickly turning to exhilaration.
Other helicopter companies include Papillon and Sundance (try a Grand Canyon picnic). A number of successful helicopter operations have been shuttling first-time tourists around for years, so this is the perfect time to cross the whirlybird off your life list.
Another way to see the Strip from high up: the Big Shot, X-Scream, and Insanity thrill rides that undulate along the Stratosphere’s 1,149-foot-tall tower (the country’s tallest freestanding observation tower). The most daring plummet straight down, bungee style, with SkyJump, the world’s highest controlled descent.
Stratosphere’s Insanity dangles riders 900 feet above the Strip and spins them at 40 mph.
Perhaps the single most pulse-racing thing I can imagine doing anyplace, ever, is Sky Combat Ace, a one-on-one ride-along with a professional pilot in a fighter plane. Thrill seekers blast through barrel rolls, combat drills, and other aerobatics—or just take a spin (upright) in a vintage plane with an open cockpit. Don’t try this after a few cocktails, folks.
Sky Combat Ace takes guests along on stunt-plane flights above the Nevada desert. (Photo: Courtesy Sky Combat Ace)
Test the Laws of Physics
You’re in a stock car revving a 600-hp engine, waiting for the flag to drop. And then you’re off, hitting the gas and shifting gears and letting your wheels grab the banked track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Soon you’re flying past the stands at over 100 mph—and you’ve never done anything like this before. Good thing there’s an instructor sitting next to you, telling you exactly what to do.
That’s what happens at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, one of several Vegas companies that let you put the pedal to the metal without worrying about traffic lights. Climb into the driver’s seat yourself or ride with a professional if your goal is to just experience the feeling of screaming around a track at 165 mph (none of the amateurs have gone quite that fast yet). Alternatively, Petty’s American Muscle Car Challenge lets guests drive a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, or Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
It’s not just for NASCAR: You, too, can drive on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Another company, Dream Racing, also lets you drive exotic cars on the same NASCAR speedway. If Lady Luck shines on you, you’ll see fighter pilots training at nearby Nellis Air Force Base. Now that’s speed.
Believe it or not, the g-force in a racecar is nothing compared to what Las Vegas’ most extreme roller coasters feel like. The newest, El Loco, zooms, corkscrews, and reverse-rolls around the Adventuredome indoor amusement park at Circus Circus (also home to the double-loop Canyon Blaster). After rides like these, hit the casino’s midway and big top to take a break while you watch other people do scary-looking things for a change.
Those with tetchy nerves and/or necks could consider something a little less stressful, maybe a zip-line ride with a gentle stop at the end: the mighty SlotZilla on Fremont Street. A new upper “zoomline” segment—114 feet above the ground and 1,700 feet long—just opened in April. You can book advance tickets online or, for a spur-of-the-moment screamfest above the crowds, just look for the giant slot machine towering in the middle of the sidewalk.
One of the more notable Vegas crazes of late: high-powered gun ranges, where firearm fans (and the merely curious) have the chance to shoot munitions you can't get at home. Each of the half-dozen or so ranges in town has its own focus. Gun Garage’s just-opened 12-lane indoor range is just off the Strip, which means you can wake up late, head over for a quick afternoon ballistics volley and be back in time for happy hour. Other options, like the military-style Battlefield Vegas, are more involved.
The most intriguing new adrenaline-filled idea in town is Las Vegas: The Game. Basically, imagine a “Hangover”-style bachelor party—with your own friend as the bachelor. Working as an accomplice with Justin Oswald and Chad Hardy, the brains behind this operation, you can plan a night of complete surprises for your unsuspecting victim. Or the company will draw up a behind-the-scenes plan and keep you in the dark, too.
Possibilities range from hiring a stranger to test your friend's flirting resolve to playing along with a series of elaborate charades that build on each other for an entire night. The evening could include anything from a monkey to a showgirl—or both! You’re limited only by your tolerance for shock and how good a friend you are (and whether you still want to be invited to the wedding).
Football season is back and there's no better place to catch every big play than Las Vegas, where you can enjoy all of the exciting gridiron action just the way you like it. Here's a look at the some of the city's best places to kick off your season:
1. SPORTS BOOKS: Huge TVs. Comfortable seats. And lots of fans cheering on their favorite team. Not to mention that Las Vegas' spacious and luxurious sports books offer you the chance to get it on the action.
2. LAGASSE'S STADIUM: This Palazzo venue features Emeril Lagasse's signature cuisine, combined with more than 100 HD TVs including 9ft x 16ft main TV, luxury boxes, plush stadium-style seating, billiard tables, and an outdoor patio just steps from the Strip. Game on!
4. FOOTBALL CENTRAL at the Westgate Las Vegas: An entire theater devoted to football viewing every weekend, including concessions, giveaways and more. Need we say more?
5. TAP SPORTS BAR: Soak in all the sports action in real time inside the MGM Grand, while reminiscing on the greatest athletes in history with authentic sports memorabilia covering the walls of TAP. And when all that cheering makes you hungry we’ve got a great line-up of apps such as Little Phillys cheese steak sliders, sourdough pretzels with cheese, and a selection of craft burgers and sandwiches.
7. BROOKLYN BOWL: Roll a few games, enjoy a great meal and then kick back and watch the games ... Brooklyn Bowl provides a great day for any sports fan.
Touch down at any of these awesome sports-viewing venues in Vegas all season long!
It only comes once every four years, so don't let your World Cup fun run dry this time around -- catch all of the exciting soccer action in Las Vegas! Here are four places to get your kicks:
1. LUXURIOUS SPORTS BOOKS: Think your team will capture the Cup? There's no better place to back it up than at a spacious Las Vegas sports book, where you'll catch every pass, tackle and penalty kick in style.
2. SPORTS BARS: From Blondie's inside Planet Hollywood to Twin Peaks on the Strip to the Ainsworth at the Hard Rock, there's no shortage of sports bars in Las Vegas that will have every game on the big screens.
3. RESTAURANTS: The Sporting House Bar & Grill at New York-New York, Public House at Luxor and Lagasse's Stadium at The Palazzo are just a few of the restaurants in Las Vegas that cater to sports fans.
4. BREW PUBS AND MICROBREWERIES: It's the World Cup, so fill yours with some of the best craft brews you'll find anywhere. Head downtown and check out the Triple 7 brew pub at Main Street Station and the Chicago Brewing Co. and Cigar Lounge at the Four Queens for unique selections of handcrafted beers.
Root your favorite nation on to victory in the Entertainment Capital of the World!
You've filled out your brackets, so head to Las Vegas to watch every buzzer beater all tournament long!
Head downtown to the Fremont Street Experience for the 5th annual Downtown Hoopstown through April 8. Enjoy nightly entertainment by the Hardwood Hotties, the world's largest tournament bracket, fan shoot-outs and hoop-themed Viva Vision productions.
Almost every resort is hosting viewing parties for all of the opening-weekend tournament games. At the South Point, enjoy a free chair message and $16 buckets of Budweiser. The LVH theater becomes Hoops Central with seating for more than 1,500. Hard Rock, LVH, Treasure Island, JW Marriott and The Orleans will also throw all-day parties, to name a few.
For a more intimate experience, check out Hoops & Hops inside The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan, where you can choose from four different packages including "The Main," which includes open seating, access to a basketball court and more -- or watch all of the action with viewing parties in Las Vegas nightlife hot spots.
Enjoy a zesty chicken wings, BBQ pork sliders and more at PURE at Caesars Palace, or kick back at The Deuce Lounge at ARIA, Lily at Bellagio, PURE at Caesars Palace and Rockhouse at The Venetian/The Palazzo. You can also fill up with an all-you-can-eat-and-drink package at The Rhumbar at The Mirage.
Feast on more great food and hoop fireworks with parties at Carmine's at the Forum Shops at Caesars, Chayo at the LINQ, the Pub at Monte Carlo or PBR Rock Bar and Cabo Wabo Cantina at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.
Catch every big shot throughout the college postseason in Las Vegas!
Playoff football, college and pro basketball, hockey, golf, tennis and more. There's always great sports action to see and with luxurious sports books and lounges and restaurants with arena-style seating, Las Vegas has plenty of venues that are perfect for watching every big game. Here's a list of some of the places to see it all unfold:
1. Hooters. The resort -- and specifically the signature restaurant inside -- is a great place to enjoy the game!
2. Sports books. Las Vegas' luxurious sports books, including the split-level VIP booths at the MGM Grand or theater-style atmosphere of Football Central at LVH, are the next best thing to being at the game.
If you're a football fan -- the die-hard kind who thinks the four seasons of the year are the preseason, midseason, postseason and offseason -- this is your time of year.
And there's no better place on Earth to spend it than in Las Vegas, where the game is always on! You don’t want to miss a single moment, and you won’t have to in the sports books and sports bars of Las Vegas. If there's a touchdown being scored, it’s on one of the thousands of big screens across the Strip. Catch every big play at the bar, on the patio, in a booth or in a private viewing room.
Lagasse Stadium at The Palazzo offers stadium-style seating, the best beers on tap, countless screens and bar food that reinvents the genre. You can thank Emeril Lagasse for a menu of delectable treats and creative cocktails that make this bar and sports book an only Vegas experience.
For more traditional fare and familiar barstools, check out Blondie’s at Planet Hollywood. MSN and Gayot.com voted Blondie’s the best sports bar in America. Decide for yourself while catching every feat of gridiron greatness on any of their 40 screens. And the cheerleaders who keep the drinks coming don’t hurt either.
If watching, cheering for or placing a little action on games is your thing, you have to visit the LVH - Las Vegas Hotel and Casino SuperBook. It’s not only the world’s largest sports book, but every season, the LVH theater transforms into Football Central. Find yourself in the middle of the madness, where sports fans from across the country collide in an avalanche of excitement and energy. For more adrenaline-pumping sports book excitement, visit the Race & Sports Bar and Lounge at Wynn Las Vegas.
It's your chance to get up close and personal with the stars of The Octagon when UFC Fight Week returns to Las Vegas July 3-6 with meet and greets, autograph signings and more!
Ever wonder what Dana White and Ronda Rousey like to do in Las Vegas? Follow Ronda as she experiences Vegas attractions. As you can see, she isn't afraid of sharks, heights, or her opponents in the Octagon:
Let's face it -- your dad has socks. And probably a tie. This Father's Day, get him something he really needs. A trip to Las Vegas! And hey, just to make sure he has a good time and all that, maybe you should join him, to make up for all those times he helped chaperon you.
Start with a relaxing round on the links. Las Vegas has more than 55 championship golf courses crafted by some of the game's greats, such as Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Tom Weiskopf and Arnold Palmer.
Then, help Dad update his wardrobe with some stylish threads. You'll find everything you need to get Dad decked out in Las Vegas' amazing shopping centers.
Once he's dressed to kill, it's time to fuel up. First, dinner -- most Dads love to eat, and Las Vegas has some of the most award-winning restaurants anywhere on the globe. Treat him to a memorable steak dinner at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons, or Cut by Wolfgang Puck at The Palazzo. If he's a seafood lover, American Fish by Michael Mina at ARIA Resort has dishes ranging from Copper River salmon to Great Lakes walleye, or treat him to fresh steamers, shrimp, lobster, crab, clam chowder and calamari at the Oyster Bar at Harrah's.
Finally, treat Dad to any of Las Vegas' unbeatable shows and you've got the perfect Father's Day gift -- a Las Vegas excursion that he'll think about fondly all year long.
Whether you're ready to hoop it up and catch all the excitement of college basketball tournament action, or see A-listers show off their skills on the links for charity, there's plenty of great sports to see in Las Vegas.
Get your brackets out and follow every buzzer-beater throughout the men's and women's college basketball tournaments (Pac-12 at MGM Grand, WAC at Orleans, Mountain West at Thomas & Mack Center). Catch every shot in any of Las Vegas luxurious sports books, or venues such as The Ainsworth at the Hard Rock Hotel or Lagasse's Stadium at The Palazzo.
Watch the stars come out and take their swings for charity from April 4-7 at the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. The event features incredible parties, A-list entertainment and competitive golf and is recognized as one of the best of its kind. Sports legends such as Wayne Gretzky, Charles Barkley, Mario Lemieux and Julius "Dr. J" Erving and entertainment personalities such as Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Don Cheadle have participated in the MJCI since its inception in 2001.
See your favorite celebrities tee it up at the exclusive Shadow Creek in the only event where the club opens its doors to the public!
Action sports take over Las Vegas from two wheels to four wheelers! The Geico Endurocross tournament rolls into town May 3, while the Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam World Finals rumbles into Sam Boyd Stadium, March 22-23. And for the real sports aficionado, check out the hard-hitting action of the Lingerie Football League later this summer
From the hardwood to the fairways, you'll always find great sports in Vegas!