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|Looking for that golf course where the little things add up to a big-time experience? Desert Pines delivers. (Courtesy of Desert Pines G.C.)|
LAS VEGAS -- Sin City is known for over the top: If it's bigger or flashier, it's better here. Don't believe us? From the Bellagio's eye-popping water fountain show to New York/New York's massive skyline to a replica of the Eiffel Tower, this city isn't one to shy away from extravagance.
But it's a whole different outlook at Desert Pines Golf Club. Here, it's the little things that make the difference between just another golf outing and one to remember. Rather than trying to wow players with bells and whistles, this Dye Designs layout will subtly impress players not only with the layout but with the overall experience.
It's golf -- plain and simple.
While there are more than 50 golf courses in the Las Vegas area, many that deal with desert themes, it's different at Desert Pines. This is an 18-hole layout with a Carolina-feel -- complete with fairways lined with thousands of mature pines, brilliant white-sand bunkers and tranquil ponds coming into play on eight of the holes.
Here's your chance to play a round of golf just minutes from the famed Las Vegas Strip and be back at your resort in time for the evening's festivities -- whether it be a formal dinner, a great show, a night-club outing or a combination of all of the above.
Let's tee it up.
We'll start where every round begins -- at the bag drop. From the start, players will feel like they are the most important person on today's tee sheet as Desert Pines staffers greet players by name and set them up on a cart for the day's outing.
Then it's off to the two-tiered, climate-controlled practice facility, the only one in Nevada. The upper level is complete with a fully automated teeing system that players can adjust to their preferred height. It makes warming up a breeze.
Just hit your shot and watch it fly. Look back down, and the next ball is ready to go. Weather a factor? No problem. Misters cool players when temperatures are up, and heaters keep the area warm when the temps drop.
Let's head to the first tee. But take a minute to stop at the putting green next to the first tee to check out the speeds of the Bent-grass greens.
Stepping up to the first tee, players will notice a trend: narrow, tree-lined fairways that put a premium on accuracy. Grab a piece of candy from the starter to help calm those first-tee jitters.
And the views are stunning with the trees framing each lush fairway. It's a recurring theme. This course, which plays to just 6,810 yards from the tips, is an ideal layout to showcase a player's ability to think his or her way around the course, as driver isn't always the right choice off the tee.
The ninth and 18th here will hold their own against any finishing hole. Both are PGA Tour-length par 4s, the ninth reaching 467 yards; the 18th a yard less at 466. They are mirror images of each other, with the ninth a dogleg right and the 18th a dogleg left. They share a huge pond that guards the green.
On every hole, players will find speedy, true-rolling greens that are large. Add in undulations, and you've got greens that will test the ability of the best putters.
"It's not your typical Las Vegas golf course," said Charles Fralix, general manager. "There are no forced carries, and it's not a desert course. It's got a great Carolina theme with all of the trees, shade, water features and sand."
Spacious is the first word that comes to mind when talking about Duffer's Restaurant. Whether it's just the two of you or a group of 16, there's more than enough room for everyone to stretch out and grab a bite to eat.
And this isn't your normal golf course fare (although there are burgers and hot dogs). How about Penne with Pesto? Or Tandoori Chicken? Or fish tacos? Or a California Club? And that's just to whet your appetite, as there are plenty more menu options.
Michael Klomps, from Royse City, Texas, was enjoying a post-round meal with three of his friends on the large patio overlooking the course after their first outing at Desert Pines. "I liked the course a lot," he said. "All of the holes are different. You've got a little water over here ... a little sand over here. The greens were fast and smooth, and it was an all-around nice layout."
If you're looking for that golf course where the little things add up to a big-time experience, Desert Pines G.C. delivers.
You won't find cascading waterfalls. This course doesn't need it. What you'll find is a course that delivers a solid golf experience with those added little touches that bring a smile to players' faces.
November 7, 2013
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.
Referred to by its hosts as a "hidden gem," the greens alone at Sterling Hills Golf Club in Camarillo, Calif. make this a stone worth turning over. Located an hour northwest of L.A., it's a pleasing, quiet and generally engaging round that will appease players of all levels.
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