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Five Las Vegas holes that will thrill and terrify golfers at the same time

Bill BowmanBy Bill Bowman,
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Bear's Best Las Vegas - 1st hole
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Hitting the fairway off the tee is the first "must" to score on the opening hole at Bear's Best Las Vegas. (Brandon Tucker/TravelGolf)

LAS VEGAS -- Tough golf holes are everywhere. They are the ones that creep into the back of your mind as you pull into the parking lot. You envision stepping to the tee and your breath gets a little more labored. Your hands get a little sweaty as you try to pull the trigger.

It's time to take on five of Las Vegas' most challenging golf holes. While these may not be the longest holes and may seem innocuous to many players, they can be dangerous to your scorecard.

Bear's Best Las Vegas, hole 1

It's not every day an opening hole is this challenging. But leave it to Jack Nicklaus to show the way.

This par 4, inspired by the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West in California, is one of 18 Jack Nicklaus replica holes from his designs in the West that he weaved together to form Bear's Best Las Vegas. The first hole plays just 413 yards from the tips with water along the left side. The second shot (if players avoid the water off the tee) is into an elevated green with three bunkers guarding the left side. Miss those bunkers short, and the false front will feed the shot back into the pond. Hitting the fairway off the tee is the first "must" to score on this hole, but the accuracy needed on the approach makes it an even tougher shot. It may not look that challenging, but don't take it lightly. After all, this is the first hole of your round and putting a big number on the scorecard isn't the way anyone wants to start a round.

The keys: Leave the driver in the bag and hit a controlled 3-wood. Take an extra club for the second shot.

Boulder City Golf Course, hole 8

Every tough hole list has to include a potentially driveable par 4. This one at Boulder City Golf Course is no different. At 275 yards it's definitely reachable even from the tips. But beware of the many dangers lurking here. There is a pond and two streams that come into play on this dogleg right beauty. Even a layup shot requires players to miss a pond on the right, but taking a go at the green is all about the perfect shot. From the tee box, the green is fronted by the second pond. Laying up is the definite play here as the odds definitely don't favor pulling out the driver. If you're still gung-ho, put your best fade swing into play and take your best shot. You're going to need it.

The keys: The risks of going for this green far outweigh any rewards of taking driver off the tee. Check your ego.

Rio Secco Golf Club, hole 8

This par 5 at Rio Secco Golf Club starts out tough and gets even tougher as players make their way toward the green. The tee shot on this 566-yard hole is straightaway. But the bad news is the fairway ends abruptly on both sides with desert outcroppings. If you do hit the fairway, the second shot -- if you're going for the green in two -- is filled with terror. The island green (but with desert landscaping below the green instead of water) is a small target. Add in a bunker behind the green and your target just got a little smaller. There is a bailout area short and left, but it is definitely one of those golf holes that can wreak havoc on your scorecard.

The keys: Don't be a hero. Play it as a three-shot hole. The green will look a whole lot bigger with a wedge in your hands.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort, Wolf Course, hole 15

You've heard the horror stories. And if you've played the hole you've probably seen the carnage first-hand. And thanks to Pete Dye, players get to channel their inner TPC Sawgrass swing. At 182 yards from the tips, this par 3 on the Wolf Course at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort should be no problem. But add in an island green and a pair of bunkers and you've ramped up the difficulty. Throw in a little breeze (okay, wind) and you've got a golf hole that is definitely not for the timid. This one doesn't have one of those sage advices like: Lay up. Nope, but there is a bit of advice more people should take: Unless you're an advanced player, move up to the proper set of tees. It's that simple.

The keys: Know your ball flight and trust your swing. Second thoughts can certainly lead to teeing up a second ball from the drop zone.

Chimera Golf Club, hole 18

The finishing hole at Chimera Golf Club (formerly Tuscany Golf Club) is not one for the meek. At 440 yards, this par 4 is as straight as they come. Golfers must avoid a huge bunker on the right off the tee. Players will then face a mid-to-long-iron second shot that will likely be from a downhill lie. That's usually no big deal, but this time it is. The shot will be into a semi-island green with a huge pond guarding the front and right sides. A stream that feeds the pond flows in from the left, and there's a huge bunker long. When was the last time you saw someone lay up on a par 4 from 180 yards? This might be that time.

The keys: There's no shame in laying up and trying to hit a wedge to gimme range to try and save par. It certainly beats seeing that dreaded splash and having to reload.

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Rio Secco Golf Club - 8th holeLas Vegas Paiute Golf Resort - Wolf Course - 15thChimera Golf Club - 18th holeBoulder City Golf Course - 8th hole
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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.

 
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