Nevada’s Best Kept Golf Secert
Mesquite, Nevada, first appeared on the big stage as a golf destination in 1997 when it hosted the ESPN-televised RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship, and that popular and avidly watched TV event remained in Mesquite through 2012. Then Mesquite received additional recognition in 2007 when Golf Channel brought 12 competitors to the desert and filmed its “Big Break: Mesquite” there.
Why Mesquite is a Premier Golf Destination
Once one of Nevada’s best kept golf and vacation secrets, Mesquite has emerged as a world-class golf and casino escape. Once in the shadow of nearby Las Vegas, Mesquite has been using this proximity to its advantage. The town now shines with a vitality of its own and is a popular alternative to Vegas. Situated in the Virgin River Valley, it is a veritable oasis for the golfer-gambler who doesn’t want to wait for tee times, table games, sports book bets, poker buy-ins, fine or casual dining, and traffic.
Mesquite offers what are arguably both the best packages in desert golf and the best values in hotels/casinos. From table game minimums to green fees to restaurants to lodging, the prices are much more reasonable, and, just as importantly, the small-town atmosphere comes with all the big city amenities that guests expect.
We all know that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and that predilection is undoubtedly good for business. However, sometimes it might be better to leave Sin City behind and visit a place where what happens there you can relate to your friends and family. You can bid farewell to the hustle, bustle, and hassle of Vegas as you drive northeast on I-15 to Exits 120 and 122. The distance is about 80 miles but only takes about 65 minutes, thanks to the 75-mph speed limit. Also, Mesquite’s closeness to Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, and Zion National Park allows for easy day trips to these famous natural attractions.
A Threesome at “Golf Summerlin”
Before you depart from Las Vegas, however, you may want to take advantage of a trio of notable public courses, all kept in excellent shape from tee through green, in the nearby suburb of Summerlin. The town is best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open each October at the private TPC Summerlin.
“Golf Summerlin” is home to three player-friendly yet testing layouts designed by Billy Casper and his design partner Greg Nash. The courses share a fine practice facility and have Callaways for club rentals. Add a “dot com” to the name to peruse the website.
Highland Falls is appropriately named because it has lofty elevation that surpasses 3,000 feet, and the elevation changes make for some very engaging holes and for some very picturesque vistas. In fact, panoramic views of The Strip follow you around the course. The four sets of tees start at the tips with 6,500 yards and decrease about 500 yards for each to the forwards at slightly more than 5,000 yards.
Palm Valley is the longest and toughest test. The generous, undulating fairways encourage the driver off the tee, but the deceptively rolling bent grass greens require a deft touch, and the 68 bunkers are only too happy to grab wayward shots. The four sets of tees start at 6,850 yards and end at 5,500.
Eagle Crest, an executive course built into the side of a mountain, requires use of all the clubs in the bag, and Billy Casper said, “You can take any hole from this course, put it in the middle of a championship course, and it would fit right in.” The 18 holes play from 4,067 to 3,668 to 3.259 yards.
Go Low with “Golf Mesquite Nevada”
Golf Mesquite Nevada—check out the website with these same three words—is your passport to fun and convenience and to the best deals available. Golf Mesquite Nevada promises to be the best “One-Stop Shop” for anyone planning a golf trip to Mesquite and guarantees the lowest rates at all of its participating courses/hotels.
The website offers golfers the ability to book their entire vacation online, but the staff is always just a phone call or an email away if help is needed for any size group. Ground transportation can also be arranged. Once you have booked a Mesquite Golf Package, GMN will take care of the rest for a worry-free vacation.
The website states, “Low green fees, low resort room rates, and low scores!” Then, it hedges a little bit by saying, “Well, the low scores we will leave up to you!” GMN offers six premier championship courses, all with different but pleasing challenges and different but stunning settings. Golf Mesquite Nevada gives each golfer plenty of opportunities to find a favorite layout, and each venue also offers excellent practice facilities, fully stocked pro shops, rental clubs, and grill rooms.
Live High in Luxury Hotels
GMN customizes the golf vacation so that you spend your days on the golf course and your free time and evenings either exploring the unique environs or resting in luxurious accommodations at one of their three hotels: Eureka Casino Resort, Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort, and Holiday Inn Express Inn and Suites.
All three resorts are spacious and modern venues that specialize in both luxurious settings and personal service for golfers. The Eureka, an annual recipient of the Mesquite “Best Hotel” and “Best Casino” awards, has newly remodeled rooms, suites, and swimming pool, and it also has an award-winning collection of restaurants and bars. The casino philosophy is to afford its players games with the highest limits and the best odds. Nearly 1,200 slot and video poker machines, all the prerequisite table games, and the live poker room will deliver all the action anyone could ask for.
Rising Star Sports Ranch Resort is just that, a hotel for sports activities with the emphasis on golf. The resort is designed to house larger groups with room configurations that can hold as many as 12 people and has exceptional meal plans for everyone. The backyard is the center of attention as it includes basketball, volleyball, pickleball courts, horseshoe pits, barbecue grills, swimming pool, and hot tub. Just the place to wind down and relax after a day on the links.
I spent four days and three nights at The Holiday Inn Express and Suites because it offers resort quality service and has the ideal address just off Exit 120. It is located directly across the street from the Falcon Ridge Golf Course, is minutes away from five other championship golf courses, and sits just above a major shopping center. This inn is the newest hotel property in Mesquite and is one of the most popular for guests looking for a non-casino lodging and a secluded and peaceful stay. The complimentary hot breakfast is the apt way to prepare for the golf rigors of the day.
A Bear’s Best and a Falcon’s View
OK, time to peruse the six course offerings. As with all golf vacations and the drama that accompanies them, the play is the thing.
Coyote Springs Country Club, a Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, is a visual delight. A short drive from Mesquite into Nevada’s hinterland, the layout sprawls throughout the desert and is extremely playable and picturesque. The greatly undulating greens are the real challenge and push the player to putt like Jack—or to keep putting. With yardage on the five sets of tees ranging from 7,471 to 5,288 yards , Coyote Springs has all the real estate a golfer can desire. It also has water and water falls throughout the layout, an unusual aspect for the desert locale.
Falcon Ridge, which overlooks the Holiday Inn Express and the Walmart shopping center, presents spectacular roller-coaster topography, with elevated tees and greens and twisting/turning ribbons of fairway on almost every hole. True to its name, the course gives a falcon’s view of all of Mesquite and the Virgin River Valley for as far as the eye can see. It is a fun course from its four sets of tees—ranging from the 6,569-yard tips to the 4,440-yard forward tees—and should not be missed.
The 36 Holes of Oasis Golf Club
Just to the north of Exit 122 is the Oasis Golf Club, a residents’ favorite and a most popular tourist stop. Arnold Palmer designed the 18 holes that bear his name and routed his par-71, 6,468 to 4,226 yards and five sets of tees through what the website describes as “some of the most scenic desert panoramas in Southern Nevada.”
The Palmer sports rugged canyon fairways, huge elevation changes, and meticulously contoured greens that have earned it a “Top 10 You Can Play” by Golf Digest. The King has always maintained that this course is one of his own top-ten favorite designs.
On the other side of 29,000 square-foot Oasis Golf Clubhouse is The Canyons, another par-71 layout with five sets of tees but a little shorter at 6,403 to 4,787 yards. These 18 holes are a combination of the remodeled Vistas nine and the recently completed Arroyo nine.
It complements the demanding Palmer layout with its large fairways and large, true Bermuda greens. With its 67 fairway and green-side bunkers and elevation changes, The Canyons has a particularly scenic front nine—hence its original “Vista” name—and a back nine sculpted from the canyon walls of the Mesquite landscape.
Both A Drive and Two Layouts to Remember
Two outstanding golf venues are situated in St. George, Utah, and getting there is a most distinctive drive. I took I-15 northeast into Arizona and then into Utah, both states in the Mountain Time Zone. I-15 became the Veterans Memorial Highway, and when I drove through the Virgin River Gorge, I marveled at the highway’s architectural plan as it followed the winding course of the river. The Gorge featured “The Narrows,” limestone cliffs that were as high as 500 feet above the road and dwarfed the cars as they passed through.
St. George, a major Utah city, was named in honor of George A. Smith, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a cousin of founder Joseph Smith, Jr. Although the drive took about an hour, it passed quickly, and I didn’t begrudge a minute of it. Besides, both courses would have made a boring drive worthwhile. The layouts are superb and eminently fair, and as the courses spread throughout their almost boundless surroundings, golfers can see in the distance the magnificent mountains of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.
Coral Canyon, which measures from 7,200 to 5,052 yards on four sets of tees, is located in what is called “Color Country” because the course meanders around the most brilliant red-rock formations in the area. With this unusual backdrop and with the lush conditions of the course itself, playing Coral Canyon is always a treat. The generous fairways keep most drives in play and allow for some flat-out power off the tee, but the enormous greens, which are designed to allow you to run the ball up to the pin or fly it all the way there, require accuracy to minimize the dreaded three putt.
Sand Hollow Resort is located just 15 minutes up I-15 from Coral Canyon and is only 25 minutes from Zion National Park. Designed by former BYU star and PGA Tour player John Fought, The Championship Course has perfectly blended a mixture of Blue and Bent grasses across the large expanse of native red sand. Spanning from 7,315 to 5,306 yards in its five sets of tees, the tees, fairways, greens, and indigenous sand bunkers seamlessly flow through the natural terrain, utilizing the natural slopes and gradations.
The routing also incorporates an impressive series of holes that Fought has carefully perched along the length of the red sandstone ledges that exist along the ridge of the property. According to the website, “With its dramatic elevation changes across a towering ridge line, The Championship Course’s last nine are unlike anything in the West.” It has been recognized as Utah’s “Best Public Course” for the second straight year.
Cash in on a Sure Thing
As important as golf and gambling are to the area, other activities abound: horseback rides, mountain bikes, go carts, ATV rentals, kayak trips, gun range practice, and bowling, to name a few. Along with the elegant spas and salons, the exceptional restaurants, and the headliners and top talents on stage, Mesquite has just about everything you could possibly want in a world-class sojourn.