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A round at Primm Valley Golf Club's Lakes Course is well worth the stop en route to Las Vegas

Judd SpicerBy Judd Spicer,
Primm Valley Golf Club - Lakes Course - 15th
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Water, water everywhere on 15 at Primm Valley Golf Club's Lakes Course. (Courtesy of Primm Valley G.C.)

PRIMM, Nev. -- You know when you're nearing Vegas on the I-15 heading northbound and there's that teaser?

Yeah, you know: You're all jacked-up for some golf and gamble, and from the spare desert drive arises signage for "Whiskey Pete's" and "Buffalo Bill's," and your car party gets a little stir crazy because you realize there's still 40 minutes to The Strip.

Here's a tip: Be teased. You're in Primm Valley.

Popular with SoCal players making the drive to Vegas or staying at Primm Resorts -- and extremely affordable for local golfers -- Primm Valley Golf Club's two complementary courses offer a diverse and pleasing public palate designed by Tom Fazio, whom many consider the game's greatest modern architect.

General Manager and Head Professional Johnathan Waddington said Primm Valley's Lakes Course, "to most people, is the prettier course because of all the water features. It has more picturesque holes. Generous fairways, and generous and enormous greens -- and the greens aren't always an automatic two-putt. But it's fair for the high-handicap golfer; they're not going to struggle too badly, but the lower handicap isn’t going to torch it either."

Primm Valley Lakes Course: Landing a good bet

Tipping at a shade less than 7,000 yards with gentle, albeit consistent, fairway undulation will indeed find the Lakes Course dousing any scorch. Moreover, some serious, deep green-guarded bunkering will keep scores in check for all players.

"Some of those greenside bunkers are deep and definitely tough depending on the pin placement," Waddington said. "Every green out here pretty much gives us the opportunity to play easy or more challenging. We have the three locations, front-middle-back, so it's an attempt to make the round six easy, six medium and six difficult for the day's layout."

The front side sports the Lakes' most engagement.

"I think no. 2 is probably my favorite hole out here," Waddington said. "It's a picturesque, shorter par 5, and you can get away with hitting a low iron or three wood off the tee if you're not going to go for it. But if you hit driver, you may have as little as 200 yards in; but that's all carry over water, and if you miss right, you're hitting over a bunker, so it's a tough, short-sided shot."

The diminutive fifth hole offers a beauty of a backdrop framing a tiny target. A short but tough par 4, you have to hit a good tee shot. The green is one of the smaller ones at Primm Valley, plus it's got some slope to it.

The Lakes' top handicap hole charts as the tracks longest par 4. The eighth is very long, and the approach plays uphill over a big bunker. If you leave yourself short, you can't even see the bottom of the hole, Waddington said. And left of the bunker is a green with a false front, so you have to hit a good drive and a great second, otherwise it's not an easy par.

And then, turning the corner, there lies the infamous 347-yard, par-4 10th. Charting (perhaps curiously) as the 18th handicap, the bunker-laden pop over water offers little out and demands aggression. Tip: When making a tee time, players likely won't want to start with this baby.

"It's one of those you just hit it -- and if you hit a great shot, you're rewarded," Waddington said. "You hit a poor short, and you may come out okay, you may not; you might hit it in the water, or, if you hit into one the bunkers to the right, then you've got a 60- or 80-yard bunker shot to an uphill green where you can't see the base of the flag, and there's nothing easy about that."

Primm Valley Lakes Course: The verdict

The prettier of Primm Valley's dual plays, the Lakes proves an engaging round that will test the irons throughout, and it proves a worthy stop for all comers. The tracks may not hold a primo spot in Fazio's vast and celebrated portfolio, but rest assured that you're still enjoying a master at work.

For Las Vegas locals, the deal is a steal.

"I used to be in the golf business, and if you took this course and put it right in Vegas -- anywhere in Vegas -- they could charge five times as much for the greens fees," said Jim, a mid-handicapper from Las Vegas. "I know what all the rates are for top-tier courses, and this is definitely one of the top-tier courses out here, some of which will charge you at least $300."

Guests going to or from Las Vegas will indeed want to look into 36 holes of golf, an opportunity heightened with a stay-and-play at Primm Resorts, just five miles down the highway.

Instruction is offered, and a full practice facility and eatery are on site.

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Primm Valley Golf Club - Lakes Course - 16thPrimm Valley Golf Club - Lakes Course - no. 2

Judd Spicer is an award-winning, veteran freelance writer hailing from St. Paul, Minn. After 12 years of covering MLB, NBA, NCAA and the active golf landscape of the Twin Cities, he relocated to the Palm Spring, Calif. region to further pursue his golf work and Champions Tour dream. Sporting measured distance off the tee, Spicer refers to his pitching wedge as his "magic wand." Follow Judd on Twitter at @juddspicer.

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

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