Las Vegas golf courses shine in Golf World Readers' Choice Awards

If you need further evidence that Las Vegas has become a player among golf vacation destinations, consider this latest ranking of golf courses. In the 2009 Golf World Readers' Choice Awards, five Las Vegas golf courses rank among the top 50. That's 10 percent, folks.

With its signature island-green par 3, Bali Hai Golf Club is one of five Las Vegas golf facilities on the recently released list. It is also one of the courses owned and operated by Walters Golf to make the top 50. Royal Links Golf Club, another Walters Golf property, came in at No. 13, and Desert Pines Golf Club is ranked 50th. TPC Las Vegas came in at No. 27. Bear's Best Golf Club, a compilation of the best holes from Jack Nicklaus' courses around the world, finished 47th on the list.

What makes the Vegas rankings impressive is that Golf World and Golf Digest readers singled out these courses, not panelists or raters who often play for free. These are paying customers who left their hard-earned dollars at the golf shop and walked away impressed.

Brad Church, director of marketing for TPC Las Vegas, said his facility's ranking is a direct reflection of the quality of the resort's product and commitment to service.

It's also an example of how Las Vegas has matured as a golf destination, offering a variety of golf resorts and facilities that span price levels and degrees of difficulty in course design, he said.

"If people want to play golf here, they have a lot of options," Church said.

Bali Hai Golf Club's lofty ranking didn't surprise Michael Wachtman, assistant general manager at Bali Hai. With the course's convenient location on the Las Vegas Strip, superb course conditions and tropical atmosphere, just about everyone who plays it leaves impressed, he said.

"People love the South Pacific theme," Wachtman said. "There's just something about it, the 4,400 palm trees, the white sand, and the running water throughout the course. People come in, and they just rave about it."

In the survey, golfers rated the course on a 10-point scale, with 10 being the best, on 14 aspects of their golf experience. Bali Hai Golf Club, with an overall rating of 87.19, scored nine or better in four different categories, including clubhouse facilities, course conditions, dining and off-course activities. The club's tropical-themed clubhouse features a five-star restaurant and fully stocked golf shop that's been ranked among the top 100 public shops in America all seven years of the club's existence. In addition, forecaddies are also available and recommended for the complete Bali Hai golf experience.

The Royal Links Golf Club is a collection of 18 holes inspired by the history of the British Open. The course's rankings approached the high 8s with its castle-themed clubhouse and Stymie's Pub as well as its course conditions, quality of course, pro shop, speed of play and dining. The facility also features an extensive caddie program, which is recommended, especially for first-time players.

Desert Pines Golf Club received its two highest marks in course conditions and service. The club also did well in the off-course activities - no doubt because its location - as well as the overall quality of the course. The course is just 10 minutes from the Strip.

All of the Walters Golf courses were also rated favorably in the pace-of-play category.

Click here to see the complete list.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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Las Vegas golf courses shine in Golf World Readers' Choice Awards