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Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort is a whole other world

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
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It's no houses and all desert at Pete Dye's Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. (Chris Baldwin/WorldGolf.com)

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort provides one of the more unique experiences in Las Vegas golf. A lot of Las Vegas golf courses claim to get you away from it all, but these three Pete Dye-designs truly do.

LAS VEGAS -- Elton John's Rocket Man needn't be the only one who finds out life is cold as hell on Mars.

At least the Las Vegas golf version of Mars. Head out to Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort -- 54 holes of Pete Dye golf without any actual resort hotel -- and you'll find yourself in a whole other world.

The neon of The Strip quickly gives way to the sprawl of Henderson County, which just as quickly cedes to actual desert. It's a little shocking just how fast you can leave it all behind. As the exit to Paiute approaches, there's nothing around as far as the eye can see except open land.

Miss the Snow Mountain exit and it's easy to think you might not have a chance to get off again until Salt Lake City.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort is only 30-35 minutes drive from The Strip hotels, yet it couldn't be farther away in terms of atmosphere. Forget those jammed super wide sidewalks where you have a good chance to get in the first walking traffic jam of your life. Forget the fake Paris, the fake New York, the fake Monte Carlo, the fake everything.

Those cacti are all real and all Dye trouble. So are the jackrabbits that are so plentiful you're liable to almost trip over a few, the coyotes that come out at dusk and the mountains that seem to loom over every hole with no buildings to block the views.

"A lot of golfers leave talking about all the wildlife," Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort Head Professional Greg Wickensimer said.

Forget the jackrabbits. They could be talking about all the gnarly desert vegetation that Dye pushes further and further out into the fairways. Especially on the Paiute Snow Mountain Course and Paiute Wolf Course.

You're going to want to cut the corner on desert doglegs at Paiute. And you're going to regret you did more than a few times.

That's Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. Part of the fun is the pain.

"You know they're Pete Dye courses," vacationing golfer Ron Cook said. "You expect them to be tough. They're not impossible tough though."

Paiute's fairways are not as crazy skinny as a movie actress. They have the Dye undulation though, little ripples of green that can send a shot skirting off target, sometimes right into the desert.

The three courses all have their own personalities. Paiute's Wolf course is the newest, the 7,604 yard highly-publicized monster that's the longest golf course in Nevada. Paiute's Snow Mountain course is the original track here and the one that low handicap golf nuts love most. Paiute Sun Mountain is Dye's version of a kindler, gentler course, one with arguably the best nature scenes in a land of great nature scenes.

"We'd like to think we have something different than any other Las Vegas course," Wickensimer said.

The difference can be found in one number: Zero. That's how many houses are anywhere on Paiute's sprawling property. Being Native American Indian land, Paiute remains unburdened by any of the Vegas building boom that turned many of the area's courses into house-surrounded fairways.

Paiute's Vegas group play tournaments

The big boards listing name after name after name dominate the lobby of the huge clubhouse at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. Two different staff members work on putting in scores. A bunch of prizes sit on a table.

This is the scene witnessed during a recent Paiute group event. And it's pretty typical of the big group event approach Paiute takes. With the 54 holes of golf and its secluded, away-from-it-all, almost private feel, Paiute rapidly emerged as a Vegas favorite of large groups. It can accommodate up to 400 golfers in a group (that's a complete sellout of all three courses).

On the day of this visit, a large teamsters group took their hacks at Dye. The group even brought in former PGA star Hale Irwin to give a pre-tournament talk.

Hopefully, Irwin gave some tips on how to stare down water. Paiute has a lot more lakes than you expect from a complex in the middle of the stark desert. Snow Mountain is especially aqua filled - with par-3s over lakes (starting with No. 4) and par-4 doglegs snuggled as tight around water as the mini skirts hug Strip casino cocktail waitresses (most dramatically 18).

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort: The verdict

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort provides one of the more unique experiences in Las Vegas golf. A lot of golf courses claim to get you away from it all. These three Dyes truly do. It's refreshing to play golf without anyone's lawn ornaments in sight. With F-16s occasionally zooming overhead (Paiute is far enough out that the military loves the open airspace) and those mountains always there, it can almost seem like wild frontier land.

You'll want to play Wolf because it's so unique (especially if the wind is howling and knocking the window shield right off your golf cart) and either Snow or Sun. These two have similar layouts, but Snow is much more penal and story producing, while Sun lets everyone enjoy the day.

The distance from The Strip keeps the prices down a tad. Paiute's courses are the equal of other $250 Vegas tracks.

"I think they have some of the friendliest service," Illinois golfer Mark Thomas said. "Across the board. From the guys who take your bags to the marshals on the course. They all seem happy to have you out here.

"That's not always the case."

It turns out that golf's Mars isn't so cold after all.

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Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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

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