Lots to love about Rees Jones' Rio Secco Golf Club near Las Vegas

HENDERSON, Nev. -- It's true that Rio Secco Golf Club plays second fiddle to Cascata, the more exclusive of the two Rees Jones-designed courses owned by Caesars Entertainment.

That's hardly a knock on Rio Secco, a golf course that just might be the best in Las Vegas area not named Wynn, Shadow Creek or Cascata. Rio Secco wraps all the excesses of Sin City into one perfect package, incorporating splashes of sex appeal, celebrity, gambling and the natural beauty of the desert landscape to stimulate golfers.

Butch Harman -- the former swing coach of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson -- is the famous face of Rio Secco. He opened his first golf school at the club. Maybe you'll run into him or one of his famous students in the clubhouse.

The pretty faces hanging out at Rio Secco are the T-Mates, sexy female caddies who spice up a typical round of golf. The T-Mates do a little bit of caddie work such as reading putts and raking traps along the way, but their main job is to make sure everybody in the group has fun.

The gamble comes at the seventh hole, a daunting par 3 dubbed the "Million Dollar" hole. Golfers can bet any amount they wish for a chance to double their winnings in pro-shop merchandise. Any lucky player who sinks a hole-in-one qualifies for the "Million Dollar" finals every fall, a competition where contestants get three swings to land another ace and win a cool million bucks. The odds might be long, but they're still better than certain slot machines on the Strip.

Rio Secco, as a course, could easily stand on its merits without all these other amenities. The nines were switched a couple of years ago to improve the flow of traffic. The current back nine features some stunning (and difficult) holes. No. 11, one of the best par 4s in Vegas, drops off an elevated tee with commanding views of the Strip to a diagonal fairway running away from players. The par-3 15th and par-4 16th holes sit in natural box canyons.

In three words, Rio Secco rocks.

Nov 09, 2015

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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.