Whether you splurged on a lavish meal, or got a little loose with the credit card in the wee hours of the night, Las Vegas is a destination where your money can get away from you in a hurry.
So perhaps here more than anywhere else, the word "value" means an awful lot.
Las Vegas can be an expensive golf destination for many reasons. At the best strip hotels, weekend rates can cost triple that of mid-week. For golf course operators, the cost of irrigation is pricy, and land values are subject to boom-bust market factors. Many courses were built during the boom years with memberships or whales in mind. Also, the top tier of courses, like Wynn, Shadow Creek and Cascata, all charge between $350-500, which allows a pack of other upper-middle class courses to charge green fees north of $200 and still justify "value."
So with that in mind, we are on quest to determine which courses deliver the best value, as well as when is truly the best time to visit Las Vegas for golf.
When is the best time of year for a Las Vegas golf trip?
I took a sample of 10 of our site's most consistent, top-rated courses in and around Las Vegas -- but with a variety of price points and styles -- to determine if there was a particular month when the averages, based on our 1-to-5 star scale, were best.
As you can see, there is some pretty significant variance in the conditions, value and overall scores, based on the time of year (the number of reviews per month are in parentheses):
The sample size includes 2,400 reviews of 10 top-rated Las Vegas-area courses on Golf Advisor dating back to September, 2012).
The best overall month for Vegas golf, according to our reviews, is May, when conditions, value and overall all peak out close to 4.5/5.0. Temperatures are generally ideal, and rates are a little lower than the peak March-April season (which as you can see, is the busiest according to the sum of reviews).
September is the worst month for overall score. which dips to below 3.8 (remember, these are all top-rated courses in the sample). This makes sense to me, because this is around the time courses are either over-seeding, or drying their fairways out in preparation for over-seeding, or have simply browned out from a summer of desert heat.
But what is quite surprising is that December has some really strong scores. It's likely a result of courses being long enough into the over-seed season that conditions are good, and yet green fees are likely a little lower than the peak fall and winter months.
Top values according to Golf Advisor raters
Here are the top-rated courses based on their "value" subcategory in 2015.
The verdict on Las Vegas value
Vegas is always a tough market to beat the house. Green fees vary on what seems to be a week-to-week basis depending on how full hotels and what conventions are in town, the condition of the courses and the weather.
That said, despite several courses closing over the years, the golf economy is still by many accounts a bit saturated, and remains a buyer's market. In the peak spring and fall seasons, good luck finding a morning tee time at an excellent golf course for under $150-175, unless you're willing to make the drive well beyond Las Vegas Boulevard to courses like Mountain Falls, Boulder Creek (Boulder City), Coyote Springs or Primm Valley Golf Club. Otherwise, for bargains closer to the strip, try Painted Desert, Chimera or Angel Park.
Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Golfapalooza package delivers some great value for those who want to play more than one round, and also Desert Pines and Painted Desert are among a handful of courses that offer "all-inclusive" golf day packages.
According to our reviewers, booking your golf trip in May will give you the best chance of getting your money's worth on the course. There may not be any NFL or college football or March Madness to bet on while in town, but a worthy consolation is NBA and NHL playoffs, as well as MLB action, to satisfy any sportsbook itches.