Reflection Bay Golf Club: Lake Las Vegas beauty reopens under Nicklaus' guidance

It's been five years, so reuniting with Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas in 2014 is like running into an old friend -- things have changed, but there's a lot of familiarity that brings a smile to your face.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed Reflection Bay, which opened in 1998, closed its doors in 2009. The course was one of the centerpieces of the Lake Las Vegas resort community, and its reopening is helping spark renewed interest in the golf and housing in the area.

To breathe new life into the course, golf owners at Paulson/Raintree have partnered with Century Golf and the Nicklaus Design team.

"The exciting part of this challenge was that Reflection Bay was in the Top 100 courses by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine," said Jeff Levine, senior vice president of public golf courses and resorts for Century Golf. "This golf course already has a reputation of being one the best courses in Las Vegas, and our goal was to bring it back better than before."

And who better to take on that challenge than Jack Nicklaus himself. "It was a unique opportunity to bring a course back to life," Levine said. "Mr. Nicklaus went hole-by-hole to make it an even better course than it was."

Nicklaus Design's changes at Reflection Bay Golf Club

Some of the changes included removal of a dozen bunkers as well as reshaping or moving another 20 bunkers. The seventh green was also extended to add drama to the hole, and that green now perches precariously close to the edge of Lake Las Vegas.

Now with rebuilt T1 bentgrass greens, an updated Nicklaus bunker design and little tweaks here and there, the course opened for the public on Nov. 1, 2014.

"Mr. Nicklaus made subtle, but important modifications to an already great course design," said Patrick Parker, executive vice president of Raintree Investment Corp. "They are changes that made the course an even better layout."

The original layout drew rave reviews from Day 1 and played host to the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge for 10 years. It was (and will be again) a course that isn't just a round of golf ... it's a golf destination.

While hotel accommodations and restaurants in the resort area attract visitors, it's the golf at Reflection Bay that is the centerpiece.

The 18-hole, par-72 design winds dramatically through the Lake Las Vegas community. Five holes of the 7,184-yard layout play along Lake Las Vegas, adding to the beauty of a course that is highlighted by elevation changes, severe doglegs and brilliant bunkering. The par-3 17th and par-5 18th finish up the round in dramatic fashion.

The Reflection Bay experience

The impressive Reflection Bay experience extends into a completely remodeled 32,000-square-foot clubhouse that is an ideal spot for that romantic dinner or that family or group gathering. A world-class menu will delight everyone in your group, and a lounge overlooking Lake Las Vegas adds to the appeal.

"We are definitely going to take advantage of the lake and golf course views with the clubhouse," Levine said. "It's going to be a great place for weddings or social events."

With the reopening, the Lake Las Vegas resort is now home to two Nicklaus courses: Reflection Bay and the private SouthShore Golf Club.

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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Reflection Bay Golf Club: Lake Las Vegas beauty reopens under Nicklaus' guidance