"Ching Ching Ca-CHING!"
Ah, there's nothing like the sound of cash money, and there's nowhere else it echoes with more enthusiasm than in Las Vegas, America's entertainment capital. Even if the reverberations of cash drawers and clanking coins aren't quite so deafening as a decade ago, Las Vegas remains a premier playground in the U.S., and that applies to golfers as well as slot jockeys.
In fact, Vegas has beaten the odds and joined the inner circle of outstanding desert golf destinations. It can't quite match Arizona or Palm Springs for sheer quantity, but where quality is concerned, Vegas golf can hold its head high. The last word comes from David Feherty, who sagely observes, "The value for your money in Vegas is extraordinary, because when you're on the golf course, you're only losing two, three hundred bucks in a six-hour period, which isn't bad."
Shadow Creek (shadowcreek.com, 702-399-7111, 866-260-0069, $500) It no longer has the mystique it enjoyed when it was next-to-impossible to get onto, but the course -- ranked No. 17 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play -- is still one of the nation's best.
In 2008, original architect Tom Fazio installed bentgrass greens, trimmed trees back to open up long-lost vistas and added 321 yards to the tips. But nothing has changed since then. Shadow Creek, located 15 minutes north of the Strip, is open to guests of an MGM Resorts International destination (there are 15 in Las Vegas, including the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and New York, New York) Monday through Thursday. Weekends are reserved only for the big-money players.
Cascata (golfcascata.com, 702-294-2080, $250-$375) Draped dramatically across stark mountain slopes at 3,200 feet above the desert valley, this Rees Jones design includes Tour-quality caddies, bighorn sheep sightings and a river that runs through the 37,000-square-foot clubhouse. Located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Cascata is ranked No. 58 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play.
Wynn Las Vegas (wynnlasvegas.com, 702-770-4653, $300-$500) You don't have to be a guest at Steve Wynn's eponymous hotel on the Strip to take on Sin City's most convenient golf experience. But if you are, the commute is short since the first tee is just steps from the lobby.
The course, which debuted in 2005, is ranked No. 66 on Golf Magazine's Top 100 Courses You Can Play. Just how great the Tom Fazio design really is spurs debate, but what's undeniable is that its oasis-in-the-desert ambiance with its only-in-Vegas landscaping and water features make it a must-play. Green fees from June 15th through August are $300 on weekdays and $375 on weekends.
Coyote Springs (coyotesprings.com, 877-742-8455, $100-$144) This Jack Nicklaus-design earned Golf Magazine's No. 4 ranking in the Top 10 New Courses You Can Play after opening in 2008. Getting here, an hour north of the Las Vegas, requires a lonely hour ride up U.S. 93 through barren, if eerily attractive desert. If you continue straight instead of turning right where 93 meets State Route 168, you're headed straight toward the U.S. Air Force's highly secretive Area 51.
Come to the course and you'll find a wonderfully low-key design, with fast, undulating greens, an army of strategically deployed tattered-edge bunkers and just enough bells and whistles in the form of lakes, waterfalls and mountain views.
Las Vegas Paiute, Wolf Course (lvpaiutegolf.com, 800-711-2833, $99-$169) All three wind-blown Pete Dye designs -- located 22 miles northwest of Las Vegas -- are free of homes and invariably in superb condition, but the toughest and longest test is the Wolf, with multiple blind tee shots and the facility's largest, most undulating and fastest greens.
Forget your three-putts with a post-round beverage in the 50,000-square-foot clubhouse, where giant floor-to-ceiling picture windows let you gaze across the desert floor clear out to the mountains.
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Piercing cold will send temperatures tumbling to dangerous levels for some across the central and eastern United States next week.
Three people were killed after a pileup, involving up to 40 vehicles, snarled traffic in snowy central Michigan Thursday morning.
A storm will spread snow and a wintry mix that will disrupt travel across the northeastern United States by early next week.
Cyclone Vardah will weaken before reaching southern India to start the new week.
A Georgia man was sentenced to life in prison following the death of his son in a hot car in June of 2014.
Bouts of rain and snow will continue to spread over the northwestern United States through Saturday.
Famed astronaut John Glenn, most well-known for becoming the first American to orbit the Earth, passed away on Thursday at the age of 95.