My wife and I have lived in Las Vegas for 20 years. In that time, we've spent many a day and/or weekend checking out area golf courses for magazine and Web site stories.
There have been hundreds of rounds with family, friends and celebrities that have left a lasting impression.
With that in mind, here are 10 of my favorite Las Vegas golf courses -- in alphabetical order -- to play when your sandbagging friends come to town to tee it up (you know who you are.)
Badlands Golf Club
Badlands Golf Club is one of those courses that most players either love or hate. I love all 27 holes just because it's a thinking man's course. If you play smart on this Johnny Miller/Chi Chi Rodriguez design, you'll have a chance to score and have a great time. One hint: Use the driver sparingly to ensure hitting fairways. It's a great course for players to work on their shot-making skills because you just can't overpower it.
Highland Falls Golf Club
There are no bells and whistles at Highland Falls Golf Club. One of three courses in the Golf Summerlin family (Eagle Crest and Palm Valley are the others), Highland Falls is playable for everyone. It's a straightforward layout, with opening and closing holes that invite aggressive play (birdies are definite possibilities). Add in the fact that rounds are usually at a comfortable pace, and you've got what most players look for in a round of golf. It's just a nice golf experience.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort
The Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort, located just north of Las Vegas, is home to three Pete Dye designs. The Snow Mountain, Sun Mountain and Wolf golf courses offer 54 holes of magic. There is no housing. There is no traffic. It's just you and the golf courses. And for one of the best golf challenges anywhere, take on the Wolf's signature 14th hole, a par 3 with an island green.
The Legacy Golf Club
The Legacy Golf Club is the epitome of Las Vegas. The 10th hole features tee boxes in the shapes of the four suits in a deck of cards (heart, club, spade and diamond). And the Arthur Hills layout will challenge players with risk/reward holes, including the drivable par-4 13th hole. Do you dare gamble and go for it?
Primm Valley Golf Club
Primm Valley Golf Club offers up two stunning Tom Fazio designs (the Lakes Course and the Desert Course) just 30 minutes south of Las Vegas. While technically not Las Vegas golf courses, they count with me because they are close enough that players can go there on a whim. Both courses are worth playing as they offer views and challenges.
Lexington Course at Revere Golf Club
The Lexington Course is the original at Revere Golf Club and features severe elevation changes and dramatic views. The rolling fairways and risk/reward holes are inviting. The seventh (King's Chapel) is a reachable par 5 complete with an elevated green and a waterfall cascading down behind the green. Lexington's sister design, the Concord Course, features one of Vegas' toughest holes, the par-5 18th.
Rio Secco Golf Club
Rio Secco Golf Club is a Rees Jones design that provides as much challenge as a golfer wants. From the tips, it's 7,313 yards. But with four sets of tees, everyone can enjoy it. The course winds over, around and through canyons and desert washes beautifully. While you're there, try to top Tiger Woods' course-record 64.
Royal Links Golf Club
It's not the British Open, but playing Royal Links Golf Club is as close as many folks will get to teeing it up "across the pond." Royal Links offers golf holes that replicate St. Andrews, Royal Troon, Carnoustie and many more. And go ahead and have a pint after the round to complete the feel and your day.
Shadow Creek Golf Course
Okay, this is one that's just for me. The fee at Shadow Creek Golf Course is a little too much for the crowd I usually run with. But being invited out to play a few times for stories, this is a course that's as special as they come. It should be on everyone's must-play list. Each hole on this 7,239-yard Tom Fazio design offers its own little slice of golf paradise.
TPC Las Vegas
TPC Las Vegas played host to the PGA Tour for many years. It's a great golf challenge with a couple of island greens (but it's desert landscaping below the greens instead of water). Play this Bobby Weed/Raymond Floyd design and chances are you'll see a couple of the local PGA Tour pros on the grounds, either practicing or playing a round on the course they call home.