Behind the lens: Golf photographer Brian Oar's 10 favorite Las Vegas hidden gems

This top 10 list suggests just a few courses in the Vegas area that are quality golf experiences you may have never heard of or didn't know was actually worthy of a play or two.

Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to reap the rewards of a true hidden gem, and it may be that they are tucked away in a hidden residential community or located in the far corners of the city, and some of them are located on the way in or out of Vegas in little-known border towns typically seen at 90 mph, never seeing so much as a neon blur.

These underdogs may not have the flashing lights or big advertising budgets of the Las Vegas golf powerhouses, but these courses are the Cinderella Stories of Vegas-area golf.

Top 10 unsung golf courses around Las Vegas

Boulder Creek Golf Club: Might be the best unknown course in all of Vegas. Only 25 minutes from strip hotels, Boulder Creek offers unobstructed desert views, big-time quality golf and a nice price.

Spanish Trail Country Club: This semi-private, 27-hole, Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed, oasis-like parkland course is a nice break from the harsh desert courses of Vegas. Expect fast greens, excellent conditions, and close to the strip and airport location.

Aliante: Located in North Las Vegas in an upscale golf community, this Gary Panks-designed golf course is a mighty fine layout, plus Troon Golf keeps it running fast and well groomed.

Chimera: Ted Robinson-designed courses are known for playability, and Chimera is a perfect example -- always in killer shape and a great price. Only 20-ish minutes from strip hotels, Chimera is a solid play.

Painted Desert Golf Club: Tucked away in a golf community, you would never see it if you didn't know it was there. Jay Morrish laid this one out in the late '80s, in the start of the Vegas golf boom, and fashioned an interesting set of holes.

Conestoga Golf Club: If you are driving into Vegas from the North, Conestoga is a 100 percent no-brainer, have to stop in Mesquite and play it. Tons of eye candy bunkers, fast greens and Troon service combine for one of the more memorable courses in the area.

Mojave Resort Golf Club: Located in Laughlin, this is another "Must Play" course that if you are driving into Vegas from Phoenix or So Cal, you've got to check out. A memorable Schmidt-Curly design that has quality golf written all over it.

Laughlin Ranch: Another Laughlin-located gem, and this one was named to the "Best New Golf Courses in 2005" list by Golf Digest and lives up to the hype. David Druzisky fashioned a high-flying, mountainside stunner most of you have never heard of.

Las Vegas National: Yep, the now iconic house from the movie "Casino" is located off of the 18th fairway, but that's not all there is to talk about. This classic layout has cool vintage Vegas golf history and solid golf holes.

Las Vegas Country Club: Talk about vintage, Las Vegas Country Club has very limited outside play, but you can get on through the right channels, and it's worth it. Another fun, classic layout that has been nicely renovated and is located right behind the Hilton Hotel.

Mar 16, 2015

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Brian Oar


Brian Oar is well known as one of the top golf course photographers in the world. Since 2002 he has been traveling the world shooting and writing about interesting golf destinations, and has photographed some of the top courses in the world. He is also a veteran of the GolfWeek's Best panel of course raters and helps create the annual top 100 courses and best-of-state lists for GolfWeek Magazine. In 2014, Brian won the prestigious "Golf Photographer of The Year" award from the International Network of Golf -- the golf industry's media awards -- for his exceptional imagery in GolfGetaways Magazine.- You can find Brian online on his website, and social media on Instagram @brianoar and Twitter @BrianOarGolf.