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Risk/reward masterpieces highlight CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite, Nevada

Bill BowmanBy Bill Bowman,
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Designed by Cal Olsen, CasaBlanca Golf Club sits an hour north of Las Vegas. (Courtesy of CasaBlanca G.C.)

MESQUITE, Nev. -- Gambling and Nevada have always gone hand-in-hand. And golfers will be able to take those betting opportunities onto the course at CasaBlanca Golf Club in Mesquite, Nev.

The questions are simple: Do you gamble and try to drive a pair of reachable par 4s? Do you go for it in two on a couple of risk/reward par 5s? The answers -- well, we'll see.

As with the rest of the gaming world, it's all in the odds. Make the right bet with your swing and you can cash in. Make the wrong choice and it will cost you.

CasaBlanca Golf Club: The course

The gambling options start early on this Cal Olsen design an hour north of Vegas. Players will find two par 4s that are risk/reward masterpieces.

The third hole plays 292 yards from the tips -- and obviously less as players move up tees. On the back, there's the 13th, a 264-yard hole from the back tees. Both are driveable. Both have plenty of danger lurking. Hence the question: Do I try to drive the green? Well, do you feel lucky? Do ya?

The rest of the course, which plays 7,036 yards from the tips and 5,209 from the forward tees, has its share of holes where players can score well, along with a few holes that will require players to put in a lot of thought before they swing the club.

The par-5 second is a prime example. At 505 yards from the tips, it's one of those holes that will have players licking their chops on the tee. But, play it wrong, and you'll be licking your wounds. Players can rip it off the tee, but bunkering left and right will catch any errant shots on this dog-leg right. Now comes the dilemma: Lay up or go for the green? Two bunkers fronting the green narrow the opening, and a huge pond right also comes into play. The smart play is to lay up and leave yourself a wedge into this green. It's only the second hole. Don't take yourself out of the game early.

"All of our par 5s are very challenging," CasaBlanca Director of Golf Scott Sullivan said. "They run north and south, and the wind direction will let you know how easy or tough they will be."

Then there is good news. Sullivan said the fairways average 200-250 yards in width, giving players room if their shots aren't perfectly straight.

"We've got five sets of tees, so the course fits every golfer," he said. "And the forward tees are forgiving and don't have a lot of forced carries, so it's a nice course for everyone."

Water comes into play on nine holes, none more dramatically than the par-3 eighth. At 230 yards from the tips, this one's a monster. And it's got water all the way down the right side as well as a bunker that guards the right edge of the green. It's one of those holes that looks beautiful ... until you get on the tee, and it's your turn to hit.

In the CasaBlanca clubhouse

Cozy is the word when talking about the CasaBlanca clubhouse. Inside, you'll find brand-name golf balls, clothing and clubs.

Players will also find those little things you may have overlooked -- sunscreen, ball markers and hats to ward off those harmful (but delightful) rays of sunshine that we are famous for.

In the restaurant, you'll find all the basics -- hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches -- in a comfortable atmosphere. Or grab your drink and food and head out to the patio and enjoy the weather and watch players finish up on the 18th.

Stay and play

With the CasaBlanca Hotel/Casino located conveniently right next door, it's a two-minute drive to the golf course. And that includes putting on your shoes. Away from the golf, there's gaming, a spa, huge pool area, fine dining and so much more. There are stay-and-play packages available to suit any budget.

CasaBlanca Golf Club: The verdict

CasaBlanca is one of those sites that even attracts Vegas residents, just to escape the hustle and bustle. With all the amenities the resort offers, as well as the 18 golf holes, it's an ideal spot for that getaway -- whether it's just an overnight stay or a week-long trip.

"People will always know they are getting a course that is in great shape," Sullivan said. "It's a friendly staff and a resort course, but it's got a local-type feel to it."

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Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has nearly 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 15-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.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

 
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