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|The Desert nine at Black Mountain Golf & Country Club boasts narrow landing areas, strategically placed bunkers and some target-style tee shots that force make golfers to think. (Brian G. Oar/fairwaysphotography.com)|
Las Vegas is known everywhere for its variety.
Food? Anything you want at any time you want it. Entertainment? From musical to comical to theatrical, it's live and nightly all up and down the famed Vegas Strip. Golf? More variety than you may think in this desert paradise.
"Black Mountain has a long heritage of providing great value to golfers," says Joan Phillips, director of golf. "Each of the three nines offers a unique challenge."
That's right, three nine-hole layouts. The Henderson course, located just 20 minutes from the Strip, saw its original nine, the Founders, built back in 1957. The second nine, the Horizon, opened in 1963 and complemented the original nine holes nicely. The two nines are fairly straightaway with impressive bunkering and those overhanging trees that can provide an additional challenge after any wayward tee or approach shots.
The new kid on the block, the Desert nine, opened in 2002 and lives up to its name. Narrow landing areas, strategically placed bunkers and some target-style tee shots make golfers think before simply pulling out a driver on every tee box.
Black Mountain Golf & Country Club's original 18 holes team up to form a 6,579-yard layout (from the tips) that can provide great scoring opportunities. Both par 5s on the Founder's nine are reachable in two (the fourth plays 502 yards while the ninth plays just 460 yards), but there's plenty of danger for those looking for that eagle putt. While the tee shots are wide open, the second shots are into greens that are well protected, by bunkers on the fourth and by severe mounding on the ninth. Hit the green and eagle is possible, but miss it and your short game will be tested.
Over on the Horizon nine, both par 5s stretch to more than 500 yards, but on this nine the trees provide an added factor when deciding on your plan of attack. Overhanging limbs can cause players to have to lay up and water on the 4th adds to the challenge.
That brings us back to the variety portion of this outing - the Desert nine. Williams, Gill & Associates squeezed this nine in within the confines of the Horizon nine and did a masterful job of routing it.
What makes this nine truly unique is the desert design. From start to finish, players will face tough choices on the tee: Is a driver too much? Can I cut off that dogleg? How far is it to the hazard? There are no fewer than four tee shots that require players to gain yardages to corners, bunkers, waste areas or other danger spots before pulling the trigger.
One quick point: Make sure you have one of two things with you before you tackle the Desert nine - either someone in your group who has played the course before or a yardage book. Play by yourself for the first time and you could find yourself in trouble despite the fact you thought you hit a perfect shot. Rolling fairways, nicely placed bunkers and undulating greens will make you think you're playing a completely different golf course.
The signature hole is probably the Desert's ninth, a par-5 playing 530 yards. The hole is dissected by an arroyo about 280 yards off the tee. Most players will take anywhere from a 3-wood to a hybrid off the tee, setting up layup second shot. Bold players can give it a go with their second but must beware of the pond that juts out into the fairway some 50 yards short of the green. Most players will take the conservative route and hit a shot leaving 100 yards in to an elevated green that slopes away from them so pinpoint accuracy with your third shot is crucial. Play this hole smart - and to your strengths - and birdie is possible.
"This is a working man's country club," says Dave Yeagley who has been teeing it up at Black Mountain for the last 10 years. "I play every day. With 27 holes you aren't always playing the same 18 holes and that factor appeals to a lot of people."
Phillips admits the course isn't for everyone, noting that many people visit Vegas for the "wow" factor. That's okay with Phillips.
"We'll let The Strip area courses have all the glam and glitz and the high-dollar prices that go with it," Phillips says. "We'll just be a good, old-fashioned golf course and a place that you will love to come back and play again."
The Chase Lounge offers a wide variety of meal options for breakfast or lunch (or as you make the turn).
Black Mountain Golf & Country Club's practice facility is the perfect spot to warm up or take a lesson from Phillips or one of her staff. There's also the Jeff Symmonds Golf School on site for those looking for long-term solutions.
In the pro shop, pick up those supplies you may have forgotten: glove, golf balls, ball markers or they also have a nice array of golf apparel for men and women.
June 9, 2009
Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-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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