LAS VEGAS -- At the high end, Sin City golf is expensive, home to some of the priciest green fees on the planet.
Thankfully, more than 50 golf courses within a 40-minute drive of the Strip provide plenty of price flexibility and competition. There's a place to play for any budget.
Obviously, the rack rates vary wildly depending upon the season and time of day, but here's the ultimate price guide for planning a Las Vegas golf trip:
Las Vegas Golf For the High Roller
Bucket-list chasers splurge on three Top 100 courses that all offer exclusive experiences on scenic courses that cost millions of dollars to build. Their impeccable playing conditions, world-class caddies and commitment to service don't come cheap, costing between $350-$500 per round.
The most coveted is Tom Fazio's Shadow Creek Golf Course in North Las Vegas, owned by MGM Resorts International. It requires a stay at an MGM casino hotel and $500 to play.
Fazio's striking Wynn Country Club is the most convenient for golfers staying on the Strip. This lush playground, home to a $2 million waterfall behind the 18th green, spills out across 137 acres just steps outside the five-star Wynn tower. This convenience can cost up to $500, although the pampering is certainly wonderful.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. counters with Cascata, a stunning Rees Jones design 22 miles from the Strip in Boulder City. I'm always asked if they're worth the money. My answer, after a little hemming and hawing, is always yes.
The most expensive tee time at Bali Hai Golf Club, the premier course owned by Walters Golf, can run $350 but can be had for a better price with a package that includes golf at Royal Links Golf Club, its sister property.
Las Vegas Golf For The Big Spender
These second-tier green fees still cost a pretty penny. Four of the most expensive -- TPC Las Vegas in Summerlin, Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Bear's Best Las Vegas and Royal Links -- demand rack rates that hover around $220-$250 in high season.
Swing guru Butch Harmon serves as the famous face of Rio Secco, home to his original golf school. The views of the Strip from the foothills of the Black Mountain Range offset the pain of shooting a high score on this tough 7,313-yard course, designed by Jones in 1997.
The TPC Las Vegas, courtesy of Bobby Weed and Raymond Floyd, delivers some of the slickest greens in town and great canyon holes, like the par-3 second and the five-hole stretch on the back nine.
Bear's Best and Royal Links sell interesting tribute themes. Bear's Best is stocked with replicas of the best holes ever designed by Jack Nicklaus, complemented by million-dollar views of fancy homes and the Strip. Royal Links showcases famous holes from British Open venues. The humps and bumps in the fairways and hidden pot bunkers give golfers a subtle taste of links golf.
Las Vegas Golf For The Majority of Us
For green fees less than $200, seek out the 54-hole Las Vegas Pauite Golf Resort 30 minutes from the Strip, with its three Pete Dye designs. The Wolf Course, and its island green, is top dog, but the more affordable Sun Mountain Course and Snow Mountain Course offer similar conditioning and views stretching of the Spring and Sheep Mountain ranges. Desert Pines Golf Club ($199 rack rate) and the Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock ($149), an Arnold Palmer design in Summerlin, also fit in this price range.
The Lexington Course at Revere Golf Club, a Troon Golf-managed facility in Henderson, uses a dynamic pricing model that tends to keep rounds around $125-$150. Las Vegas National Golf Club, where Tiger Woods shot 1-under before his first PGA Tour win in 1997, peaks out at $129, according to its Web site.
For possibly the best bang for your buck, dive into the Mohave Desert to discover the 36-hole Primm Valley Golf Club just across the border from Nipton, Calif. Fazio used contrasting styles at Primm Valley's Desert Course and Lakes Course located roughly 35 minutes from the Strip.
Las Vegas Golf For the Bargain Hunter
To most recreational golfers, it's not about where they play, it's more about cost.
Las Vegas has a dozen quality courses less than $110. Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City -- ranked among the top 15 public golf courses in Nevada by Golfweek in 2013 -- might be the best of this bunch, maxing out at $100 for resort guests. Its sister course, Boulder City Golf Course, was voted "Best Bargain Course in Southern Nevada" three years in a row by Vegas Golfer Magazine, costing a mere $40.
Consider this: Golfers could play one round at each of the following three courses -- Chimera Golf Club and Black Mountain Golf & Country Club in Henderson and Painted Desert Golf Club in Las Vegas -- and still spend less than one round at Shadow Creek. That's Las Vegas golf economics at work, the same business model that the casinos employ. Penny slots or high-stakes poker? It's your choice.