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|Falcon Ridge Golf Club is arguably the most played course in Mesquite. (Katharine Dyson/TravelGolf)|
MESQUITE, Nev. -- With a population of about 16,000, a dozen exceptional golf courses and a handful of casino resort hotels, Mesquite, Nevada enjoys a more laid back pace than glitzy, brash Las Vegas about an hour away.
"We have everything they have in Vegas, only on a smaller scale," said Joel Villanos, general manager at Wolf Creek Golf Club.
The big surprise here is the quality, diversity, affordability and accessibility of the courses. Most of the dozen or so tracks are within a five-to-10 minute drive from your hotel. Here are some must-plays.
The views from Falcon Ridge Golf Club, arguably the most played golf course in Mesquite, sweep across the countryside revealing some serious ups and downs along with ponds, creeks and dazzling white-quartz bunkers. When you reach the 16th tee, take time to appreciate the 360-degree views of Mesquite and the countryside.
The rolling terrain of the front nine is more predictable while the back nine is full of surprises like the tiered funky fairway on hole no. 15 plunging down then bumping up the terraced hillside.
Conestoga Golf Club, the Troon-managed centerpiece for a Del Webb master community within Sun City Mesquite, plays out below the region's Flat Top Mesa and flows around bluffs and canyons fitting the landscape like a glove.
One of the more interesting holes, no. 4, challenges you to go for the carry over the fairway and rocky cliff to find the lower fairway below. Short hitters lay up.
Conestoga, designed by Gary Panks, has received numerous awards including "Best New Course" by Golfweek. Although plans call for more houses, the few that are there now do not intrude.
The Palmer, site for Golf Channel's "Big Break Mesquite," may play a moderate 6,633 yards, but holes such as no. 7 -- a par 3, requiring a carry over a deep gorge -- add gravitas.
Some of the fairways are relatively narrow including the short 15th, and houses and electric wires lining some of the fairways remind you that you are not all alone in the desert. Still, the Palmer is a solid track for all levels.
The surreal landscape of Wolf Creek Golf Club's deep green fairways juxtaposed against red- and purple-hued mountains and craggy ravines, takes you on a rock n' roll ride up, over and through craggy canyons. Indeed so steep and squirrely are some of the paths, you need to sign a waiver absolving the club of any damage you might do to your cart.
Opened in 2000, Wolf Creek has tremendous elevation starting at the par-5 first, a downhill plunge to a long fairway that snakes between fairway bunkers, rocks and desert.
Teeing off on the second hole can be another knee-knocker as you line up to carry the rocks and canyon to reach the landing area. "You may think you need more club, but trust the yardage," Villanos said. "Overshoot you'll run right through the fairway."
Wolf Creek is an anomaly -- all that green and bubbly water in the middle of the desert -- and the creeks and waterfalls are man-made. But no matter: This course is a stunner.
It's well worth the spectacular hour-long drive through the canyons and mountains to Hurricane, Utah to play Sand Hollow Golf Resort's Championship Course.
Designed by John Fought, wide fairways play along steep ridge lines and up and over the canyons, while gravel cart paths and red sand bunkers echo a landscape dominated by red sandstone cliffs and flat-topped mesas. There aren't a whole lot of houses or buildings to distract -- just a handsome hilltop clubhouse. Zion National Park is close by.
There is also a nine-hole Links Course at Sand Hollow.
While in Utah, if you're up for 36 holes, play nearby Coral Canyon Golf Course for an exhilarating golf adventure through red rock canyons and desert.
In Mesquite, lodging includes chain properties such as the efficient and well-appointed Holiday Inn Express directly across the street from Falcon Ridge Golf Course and the Eureka Casino amp; Hotel with a large casino, lovely pool and spa.
On your way to or from Mesquite take a short detour off Rt. 15 to play Coyote Springs Golf Club, an exceptional Jack Nicklaus Signature Course seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
Coyote's sweeping vistas of sand, arroyos and multi-hued mountains serve as a perfect prelude to what's to come just up the road.
January 11, 2013
Katharine Dyson is a golf and travel writer for several national publications as well as guidebook author and radio commentator. Her journeys have taken her around the world playing courses and finding unique places to stay. She is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America, Metropolitan Golf Writers of America; Golf Travel Writers Organization and Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Katharine on Twitter at @kathiegolf.
Atlantic City's gleaming flashy casino hotels stand tall against the sky while its historic boardwalk continues to draw visitors eager to experience the salt air, the sea and the energy. People come to Atlantic City to roll the dice, dig into a White House Sub and yes, play golf on more than 20 courses. And just like blackjack or poker, you have choices. Katharine Dyson offers up her top-five must-play courses.
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