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Destination Laughlin, Nevada: A great weekend golf getaway south of Las Vegas

Bill BowmanBy Bill Bowman,
Mojave Resort Golf Club - 13th hole
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Mojave Resort Golf is one of the top tests in Laughlin, Nevada. (Courtesy of Mojave Resort G.C.)

LAUGHLIN, Nev. -- Let's see ... you're looking for a family getaway. The top priority is a variety of golf courses. But you also want fine dining, some entertainment, a few shopping choices, a little gambling action and maybe some fun on the water.

Look no further than Laughlin, Nev. Located 90 minutes south of Vegas, Laughlin is home to 11 resorts right on the Colorado River. And the river means water, and that means fun -- from jet skis to swimming to dinner cruises to water skiing.

It's all here and just minutes from your room.

But let's get back to the golf: The area is home to enough golf courses of varied challenges to satisfy players of every ability. And if you're here for a weekend, there are a few that are must-plays.

Must-play golf courses in Laughlin, Nevada

Mojave Resort Golf Club is a Brian Curley/Lee Schmidt resort-style course with lush landscaping. Stretching out to 6,939 yards, it's a great test of golf and is right across the street from the Avi Resort. The final three holes are filled with risk/reward options that can make or break the round. The course, as well as the location, are ideal for those looking for a morning round of golf and then an afternoon on the river.

Just outside of town is Laughlin Ranch Golf Club, a Dave Druzisky masterpiece. Reaching 7,192 yards from the tips, the layout is a roller coaster ride with massive elevation changes galore and breathtaking views of the surrounding Laughlin area. Risk/reward holes, impressive water features and an old-west ambiance add to the experience. Driving between holes, golfers will see an old-fashioned printing press along the way as well as other historic pieces.

One of the newer courses in the area (opened in 2007) is Los Lagos Golf Course. The Ted Robinson Sr. layout is 6,804 yards from the tips. But despite not being overly long, the bunkers (about 40 of them) -- as well as water features on seven holes and deep, penalizing rough -- will test even the best golfer in your foursome.

Also near Laughlin are a few other golf tests including Chaparral Golf & Country Club, El Rio Golf & Country Club, Riverview Golf Course.

A couple of things all of these courses have in common: a variety of golf holes, great prices and friendly staffs.

Dining in Laughlin

The dining options are just as varied as the golf and will fit any taste. From Outback Steakhouse in the Aquarius to Passagio Italian Garden at the Tropicana to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company at the Golden Nugget, visitors can sample food from around the world. And the old reliables are all around: McDonalds, Subway, Panda Express, Cinnabon, Starbucks and Seattle's Best.

Laughlin shopping

For the shopping fanatic, the Laughlin Outlet Center is home to more than 50 stores. From A (A 2 Z International) to Z (Zara's Fashion Lane), the options are endless. There's The Boot Barn, Piercing Pagoda, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Van Heusen. Variety and choices are all right here.

Nightlife in Laughlin

And then there's the nightlife (after all, you are on vacation). Check out Kokopelli's Showroom at the Edgewater Casino Resort where the weekend features comedy at 7 p.m. and turns into a hot spot at 10 (Inferno) where DJs get the place jumping.

And all up and down Casino Drive are nightclubs with live music for listening or dancing pleasure as well as DJs and karaoke options.

One of the more intriguing spots is Cove Bar and Lounge at the Aquarius Casino Resort. It may seem like just another drinks/appetizers site, but this one's non-smoking -- not something you see (and can enjoy) everywhere. Plus it has terrific views of the action on the river.

Off-course with the family

Not playing golf? No problem. There are many more activities the family can choose from. Take your best shot on the bowling lanes at the Riverside. There are plenty of choices to check out the surrounding Laughlin area -- whether it's by land, sea or air. Look into the air tours including airplane and glider tours. There are also land tours, horseback riding and kayak, canoe or jet-ski rentals.

Is there more to do? Absolutely. But there's also the choice of less -- such as relaxing by the pool reading a book or floating lazily down the river.

The choices are plentiful and all yours.

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Laughlin Ranch Golf ClubAvi Resort

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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