HENDERSON, Nev. -- Penn and Teller. Siegfried & Roy. Donny and Marie. Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Rees Jones.
Huh? What does this eclectic mix of entertainers, magicians, a golf architect and a major casino company have in common? They're all unlikely duos who have made it big as partners in Las Vegas.
Did you know that Caesars owns the best 1-2 golf punch surrounding Sin City? Cascata in Boulder City and Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson both showcase the creative talents of Jones, the man nicknamed "The Open Doctor" for his work on nearly a dozen major championship courses.
Cascata and Rio Secco -- each located within 25 miles of the Strip -- could easily challenge a tour pro, but they were designed by Jones for every skill set.
"People like Rees Jones. They appreciate his straightforward style," said Mark Blais, the director of golf sales & marketing at Caesars Golf Las Vegas.
If you're a golfer coming to Las Vegas, you can probably skip Penn and Teller, but not these two daytime stunners.
When Cascata first opened as an ultra-private club in 2000, Jones called it the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The project reportedly cost $70 million to build. That kind of opulence built a green paradise in a mountainous desert landscape.
Cascata, which in Italian translates to waterfall, is named after the 418-foot manmade waterfall winding through the course, the driving range and -- at its dramatic conclusion -- the glass atrium in the lavish 37,000-square-foot Tuscan clubhouse.
Golfers can't help but feel special once they walk through the heavy front door. Cascata requires every group to take a caddie. They're a welcome addition to help figure out the slick, perplexing greens and the lines of play off of dramatically elevated tees. Many of the same rock outcroppings, wild elevation changes (some 800 feet) and panoramic views that make Wolf Creek in nearby Mesquite so dramatic are on display at Cascata.
Its best holes are also the most scenic. The par-3 seventh hole plays to a large green surrounded by a stream and tucked in a canyon. Tiger Woods posed for a Golf Digest cover on the downhill 14th hole, a par-4 dogleg right, where a creek up the right side of the fairway pools into a bigger hazard near the green.
Rio Secco Golf Club
Rio Secco can't quite replicate that exclusive feeling of Cascata, although it is better in many ways. Rio Secco -- a 7,313-yard host of the Wendy's 3Tour Challenge in 2012-13 -- costs less to play, is closer to Las Vegas (providing some great views of the Strip), offers T-Mates as sexy female caddies and, best of all, is home to the original Butch Harmon School of Golf. If you can't handle Rio Secco's canyon holes in the foothills of the Black Mountain Range, Harmon is there to help.
The nines were flipped a few years ago for a smoother start. If you're not warmed up by the third hole, an intimidating par 3 overlooking the Strip, your ball might drop in a deep canyon.
Take a gamble on the "Million Dollar Hole," a difficult, par-3 seventh hole over a pond. Golfers can double any money they bet by hitting the green. The winnings can be cashed in as merchandise in the pro shop. Anybody who sinks an ace could win a million bucks -- provided they repeat the feat in a final competition held every fall.
As the scenery soars on the back nine, so does the difficulty. The 11th tee, the starting point of a gorgeous par 4, drops to a narrow fairway running away from players. The Strip looms in the distance. The 12th and 13th holes climb to extremely elevated greens. Canyon walls crowd tight landing zones on the par-3 15th and par-4 16th holes.
Where to stay
Caesars has plenty of hotels on the Strip that could cater to golfers, but the best bets are probably the flagship Caesars Palace Las Vegas and the LINQ Hotel & Casino. A golf concierge located inside the main lobby of Caesars Palace (or available at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-731-7786) can book tee times and even off-course entertainment. LINQ sits in the heart of a vibrant outdoor corridor of restaurants, shops and the new High Roller, the largest observation wheel in the world. Caesars doesn't sell golf packages yet, but that's something coming down the road, Blais says.
This story was sponsored by Caesars Golf.