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|Ashwood Golf Course in Apple Valley, Calif., is a Billy Casper Golf course and a well-conditioned desert delight. (Josh Reynolds/WorldGolf.com)|
Primm Valley Golf Club, Ashwood Golf Club and Green Tree Golf Course are just a few of the great rounds of golf worth stopping for on the famed drive from Southern California to Las Vegas.
The drive from Southern California to Las Vegas has been made famous in movies such as "Swingers" and been driven by literally untold millions looking to escape SoCal's laid-back atmosphere for some high-rolling in Sin City.
For golfers, this has always been a great trip. The three-to-five hour drive is filled with anticipation, as dreams of inspiring Las Vegas golf courses like the Revere at Anthem and Rio Secco Golf Club dance in their heads.
But why wait for Las Vegas? Why not make the drive a golf-themed expedition and hit some of the golf courses on the way? Why not get a golf trip to Las Vegas - one of the planet's ultimate golf destinations - rolling by trying out a few of the stellar and interesting golf courses that are so often overlooked?
Sure, the casino owners in Vegas don't want you to read this. They want you heading straight away to their land of luxury, where the air-conditioned casinos beckon following a round of golf. And while there's not a thing wrong with that as a plan, sometimes a golf trip gets all the more memorable when you go out of your way a little. With that in mind, here's a look at a few courses you can hit while making your way from Southern California to Las Vegas on the I-15.
As any seasoned Southern California traveler well knows, the trip to Las Vegas doesn't truly begin until you get over the Cajon Pass and hit the golf-heavy High Desert region of So. Cal. From there, it's a straight, somewhat lonely drive to Sin City. Not far from the Pass, however, is a golf treat that will get your trip underway with style - Ashwood Golf Club.
Formerly known as Jess Ranch, this golf course in Apple Valley has added nine new holes since being purchased by Billy Casper Golf. And the new nine fits in perfectly with the old 18 to make it an entertaining and fun 27-hole complex. Playing to a par of 65 for 18 holes, Ashwood has no par 5s and only a couple challenging par 4s. Long hitters will be tempted to reach nearly every par 4, a strategy that will end up getting a player's game in shape.
"It's a good course for working on your short game, that's for sure," said Dean Roth of Victorville, Calif.
While it is set up to be a breeze for low-handicappers, the entire course changes when the winds kick up in the afternoon, and suddenly you're pulling out a 5 iron to hit a 150-yard shot over a pond into a stiff breeze. Regardless of the weather, however, Ashwood stands out as an immaculate run in a scenic area of California's desert.
After you get back on the I-15, blast your way through Barstow, then stop in Baker just long enough to fuel up, take a gander at the "world's largest thermometer" and buy a lottery ticket at the famous Mad Greek Cafe (which has sold more winning lotto tickets than any other place in California). Then rev up the engine and head for Nevada.
Still 40 minutes outside of Las Vegas, any good gambler knows a trip to Sin City always includes a stop in Primm, where casinos like Whiskey Pete's and Buffalo Bills await. Golfers should know another reason to stop in this gambling town that has blossomed over the years - Primm Valley Golf Club.
You'll see Primm Valley on the side of the highway as you make your way to the Primm exit, and the lush green setting should act as a lure for any golfer looking to drive his way to Las Vegas, figuratively and literally.
Featuring two Tom Fazio-designed golf courses - The Lakes and Desert courses - Primm is a perfect stop for a golfer who is tired of driving his car and would rather push the accelerator on the driver in his golf bag.
"These are two courses that do not concede anything to Vegas' tracks. Fazio was handed more than $45 million to use in constructing the Lakes Course out of bedrock desert and an old long-ago-dried-up lake bed, and the money shows," wrote Senior Staff Writer Chris Baldwin of the two tracks at LasVegasGolf.com. "Throw in the fact that it may be the most forgiving Fazio you'll ever find and it is easy to see why the Lakes is a crowd pleaser."
Now, after tackling a couple Fazio offerings, you're ready for Las Vegas. There will be more golf available than you can handle in one trip, but at least you'll know you didn't lose any great golf experiences by just driving by them on this trip to Sin City.
December 12, 2007
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
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