Finding great golf in Las Vegas is easy. The Vegas valley has long been known for its great courses. These courses run the gamut in difficulty, desirability, and price.
Finding a course you can play for less than $100 can be challenging. Many courses in Las Vegas give a discount for locals. Tourists can sometimes get gouged. Knowing where, and often when, to play is important if you are a golfer who wants to save some money for a show or gambling on the Strip.
While sometimes a chore, it can be done. Here are some options for the budget golfer visiting Las Vegas.
Las Vegas National
This is among the oldest courses in Las Vegas, having opened in 1961. It is also among its most famous. Tiger Woods won his first PGA tour event at the Las Vegas Invitational, and National (then known as Las Vegas Hilton Country Club) was one of the courses used for that event. But Woods’ victory is not what Las Vegas National is best known for.
The year before Woods won the Invitational, the movie Casino opened to great fanfare. Parts of the movie were shot at the golf course. The house that scenes were filmed can still be found between the 1st and 18th holes. Long before that, the famous Rat Pack led by Frank Sinatra played many rounds here. After their rounds, the Rat Pack could often be found at the piano in the bar, regaling the customers with stories and songs.
National’s glory days are behind it but you can still play a fun round for a relatively inexpensive price. Like many mature courses, shot-making often takes precedence over length. This course has more trees than you will find at most area courses.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
While Las Vegas National sits in the heart of town, you will need a 25-minute ride or so to get to this gem. Three different 18-hole courses make this worth the drive. At 7,604 yards, the Wolf course is the longest in all of Nevada. If you are looking for less of a challenge, try either of the other two courses, Sun Mountain or Snow Mountain.
Whichever course you choose, you will be surrounded by the desert landscapes unfettered by the development that is a hallmark of much of the metro Vegas area. The resort is owned and operated by the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. It was the first course of its kind located on Native American land.
The price can sometimes creep above $100, especially for the Wolf course during the season. Like other Vegas area courses, off-season rates are considerably cheaper. While you can play year-round, the offseason for Las Vegas golf is winter and summer. A great advantage for the Paiute resort is that it is quite a bit higher in elevation than on the Strip. Summertime temperatures can be 10 degrees cooler than in the valley.
Boulder Creek Golf Club
A 25-minute drive in the opposite direction of Paiute will take you to Boulder City and Boulder Creek Golf Course. Boulder Creek might be the best golf value in all of the Vegas area. It features three world-class nine-hole courses.
Each of these nines offers a challenge in a desert environment. Wide fairways are a feature of Desert Hawk, Coyote Run, and Eldorado Valley courses.
That doesn’t make them an easy mark. Desert Hawk has more water to navigate than the others. Coyote Run has some elevation changes that are more dramatic than sometimes seems. And you will need plenty of length off the tee to challenge Eldorado Valley. Be careful. With an open landscape, the wind can make things more difficult here.
Keep an eye out for special or off-season rates here to get under our $100 mark. If you have difficulty doing so, its sister course Boulder City Golf Course is a nice course for even less money.
The Legacy Golf Club
On the way back to Las Vegas from Boulder City you find yourself in Henderson. Just off the freeway, you should consider stopping at The Legacy.
Tucked into a residential area in the Green Valley community of Henderson, The Legacy is a beast if played from the tips. However, the sometimes lengthy distance from the championship tees to the forward tees makes a dramatic difference. There is a 1,000-yard total difference between the Black and White tees, making this a course for all skill levels.
Wildhorse Golf Club
Just a mile or two down the road from The Legacy sits Wildhorse Golf Club. This course was one of the first to open in Southern Nevada. Once owned by Howard Hughes and also a former PGA Tour stop, Wildhorse today offers a shorter course than its neighbor. Still, par is only 70 and it does feature one of the toughest holes in the state.
The ninth hole is not all that long but precision is a must. Water sits to the right of the landing area and to the left of the green. To compound the difficulty, the second shot is a blind one uphill. Bring you’re a game for the ninth hole.
Wildhorse has a fine practice facility and is one of the few courses in the area to earn the designation as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Las Vegas Golf Center
If you are looking for something quick and easy nearby the Strip, give the Las Vegas Golf Center a try. This is a nine-hole course on Las Vegas Boulevard just minutes away from the megaresorts of the Strip.
The course can be a good way to test your short iron game, with the added bonus of the option of playing at night. The Golf Center is a great place to practice, with top-notch instruction and facilities.
The L.I.T. (Local Industry Tavern) has some great food, worth the visit even if you are not going to play.
Many of the area’s courses can be wildly expensive. Shadow Creek, the host of the Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson match, will set you back $500 to play Monday through Thursday. You have to be an invited guest to play on weekends. Owned by a large casino company, to be an invited guest usually means you have to be a high roller at the casinos.
Still, you can find relative bargains as mentioned above. These courses may not be as plush as Shadow Creek but they still offer a great golfing experience.