Sin City Secrets: Unveiling six underrated golf courses in Las Vegas

When it comes to most things in Las Vegas, it's glitz, glamor and grandeur. And that includes some of the area's 50-plus golf courses: flashy -- bells and whistles -- over-the-top.

But what about good, old-fashioned golf? How about a few courses in the area that give players just what they want -- a great golf experience. Period.

We're glad you asked. Here are six underrated courses in the Las Vegas area. These layouts don't always get the big headlines when it comes to Vegas courses, but playing them will surprise -- and impress -- players.

Las Vegas National Golf Club

Just minutes north of the Las Vegas Strip sits Las Vegas National Golf Club.

Designed by Bert Stamps, the 18-hole, traditional-style course is a par-71 layout and is one of the oldest golf courses in Las Vegas, having opened in 1961. Mature trees line fairways, and well-positioned bunkers and lakes add to the challenges. Elevation changes and a few severe doglegs will also test players as they meander around this 6,721-yard layout.

The course has played host to PGA Tour and LPGA events, and even Tiger Woods has played it. Woods played LV National en route to his first PGA Tour win in 1996 (the five-round Las Vegas Invitational) when he carded a one-under-par 70 during his round on the course. That should show players this course is no pushover.

If it's good enough for the pros, it's certainly one golfers should tee up at when they visit Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Sun Mountain Course

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Sun Mountain Course is the second of the three courses at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (along with the Snow Mountain Course and Wolf Course).

With three courses on the property, it's easy for people to talk about their favorites. With the Wolf, you've got the island green on the par-3 15th that intrigues people. With the Snow Mountain, you've got the original that was the favorite when the resort opened in 1995.

But don't forget about the 7,112-yard Sun Mountain layout. It's a staff favorite with challenging holes and stunning views. And according to General Manager Chad Gunier, once you play the final three holes -- a par 3, a par 5 and a par 4 -- you'll see why.

Boulder Creek Golf Club

Boulder Creek Golf Club is off the beaten path -- but well worth the drive if you're visiting Las Vegas.

This 27-hole layout designed by Mark Rathert, is the dictionary definition of hidden gem. Located in Boulder City, 25 minutes from Las Vegas, this course is one of those layouts that challenges players early and often. How much do I dare cut off that dogleg? Is it worth it to go for the green in two? Why haven't I been out to this golf course before?

Come up with the right answers to those questions, and you'll definitely be back to take on Boulder Creek Golf Club again.

Highland Falls Golf Club

This 18-hole Billy Casper/Greg Nash layout is the centerpiece of the three Golf Summerlin courses -- along with Palm Valley and Eagle Crest. At 6,512 yards from the tips, Highland Falls Golf Club one of those courses that doesn't look that challenging if you're just looking at the yardage.

Reachable par 5s, rolling fairways, undulating greens and a brilliant final three holes will add up to a golf experience that is not only underrated but downright impressive.

Primm Valley Golf Club's Desert Course

There are two Tom Fazio courses at Primm Valley Golf Club, about 30 minutes south of Las Vegas. But while the two 18-hole layouts are side-by-side, it's Primm Valley's Lakes Course that gets the majority of the publicity.

And that's not a problem. It's a wonderful golf course that will test golfers with its design and its beauty.

But players need to check out the 7,131-yard Desert Course. The name is a little misleading, because while there is desert landscaping, the lush green ribbons of fairways are every bit as impressive -- and inviting -- as the ones on the Lakes.

Badlands Golf Club

Okay, you may have heard a few horror stories from your co-workers or friends about this challenging Johnny Miller-Chi Chi Rodriquez 27-hole course.

Don't believe them. Granted, there are a few tight fairways here, but if you think your way around Badlands Golf Club, you'll be fine. And along the way, you'll have fun.

You'll also see some of the best course architecture anywhere as the cliffs and canyons are used to perfection. (And don't mind the golf balls at the bottom of a few of the ravines -- remember, those are the people who didn't think their way around the course).

One final tip: Driver isn't always the right club at Badlands. Keep it in the fairway. Play it once and think you're way around, and you'll go back and tell your friends they need to play the course again.

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.

Related Links

The Sun Mountain Course has been branded the easiest of the three Pete Dye courses at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort. That's like saying a 25-kilometer run is easier than a marathon. It may be easiest, but it's not a walk in the park.
8 Images
More from the author
2 Min Read
May 16, 2016
A round at Royal Links Golf Club in Las Vegas lets you take on replicas of 18 historic holes that have been used in the British Open rotation. From the clubhouse-turned-castle to the monuments paying homage to the game, you'll find yourself feeling a world away while only miles from the Strip.
2 Min Read
March 16, 2015
Golf and Las Vegas go hand-in-hand. Add in March Madness and you've got the makings of a great outing. Whether it's for just one weekend of the event or the entire two weeks, you'll have plenty of time to check out the golf courses and hoops excitement. Just make sure you start making those tee times early because, like the NCAA basketball tournament, you've got to be in the field to be part of the excitement.
2 Min Read
November 12, 2014
After a five-year hiatus, Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas is back, and it's better than ever. Bill Bowman has more from Sin City.
3 Min Read
September 23, 2014
Variety, value and views. It's that simple when you're talking about the Palm Valley Course at Golf Summerlin. This Billy Casper/Greg Nash-designed layout is the original Golf Summerlin course, opening in 1989. It's also the longest of the three, and the design -- with a variety of challenges in the length of the holes -- makes tremendous use of the land. If you're looking for a solid round at affordable prices with nice Las Vegas views, you've come to the right place, Bill Bowman writes.
3 Min Read
June 16, 2014
Mesquite, Nevada boasts seven top-flight courses that offer enough variety and challenge that you can play a different one every day and not feel like you're playing the same hole day after day. With that in mind, here's Mesquite Golf 101: Your guide to teeing it up.
3 Min Read
June 13, 2014
The front nine at The Palms Golf Club near Mesquite, Nevada is a rolling, resort-style course with palm-lined fairways, numerous ponds and a plethora of bunkers to test golfers' accuracy. On the back nine, however, prepare for desert golf at its finest. The variety of holes, the challenges and the views make The Palms a course that will appeal to everyone in your group, Bill Bowman writes.
6 Min Read
November 6, 2023
We make golf gift shopping easier with this handy guide.
2 Min Read
November 20, 2023
Golf is a game of control and composure. Don't lose yours by tossing a club.
1 Min Read
October 31, 2023
If you want to hole more putts, you should take the advice of the world's greatest golfers.
8 Min Read
November 12, 2023
The rise of artists launching their own companies has changed the way golfers use wall art that impresses their co-workers on Zoom.
Now Reading
Sin City Secrets: Unveiling six underrated golf courses in Las Vegas