Here is the LINKS top 10 list of casino courses in the U.S. But surprisingly there are only three Vegas courses on our list. The others stretch from New York to Arizona. Apparently, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.
10. Wynn Golf Course
Las Vegas, Nev.
Located on the footprint of the Desert Inn course that played host to the LPGA and PGA Tour for 50 years, this man-made marvel by Tom Fazio (top photo) is an eye-popping journey through waterfalls, streams, and lush vegetation and elevation changes uncommon to Vegas. Don’t want to lug your sticks? The club provides complimentary Callaway clubs.
9. We-Ko-Pa Golf Club (Saguaro)
Fort McDowell, Ariz.
Most desert courses are target-golf designs built around real estate where carts are necessary, but the Saguaro Course by minimalist masters Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw near Scottsdale is a wide-open layout that follows the natural movement of the land with close greens and tees made for walking. The architects gave golfers options how to play the holes, including along the ground.
8 . Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
To get to the course, golfers get ferried in a mahogany boat across a lake and the day just gets better from there as the routing takes you from lakeshore to forested ridge and rolling woodlands to the famous floating island green 14th that is pictured on LINKS’ Fall cover. Guests also have access to another superb course, Circling Raven, just down the road.
7. The Wilderness at Fortune Bay
Set along the shores of Lake Vermilion, this scenic design was carved through majestic pines and dramatic rock outcroppings and offers some of the most beautiful panoramas of any course in the state. High-low alternate fairways give players some thought-provoking options on some holes.
6. Turning Stone Resort (Atunyote)
Casino courses don’t get any tougher than this Tom Fazio parkland brute that has water or wetlands in play on 11 of the holes. Wind can also be a factor as there are a number of open holes over the gently rolling landscape.
Boulder City, Nev.
Affiliated with Caesars Palace 30 minutes southeast of the Strip, this Rees Jones design is a spectacular feat of engineering with deep canyon walls framing each hole. Sweeping mountain views are also ubiquitous, as are rock outcroppings and manmade water features, including a 418-foot waterfall from the steep mountainside that towers above the driving range.
4. Fallen Oak Golf Club
Routed through a centuries-old forest of oak, pecan, and magnolia trees dotted with wetlands and exclusively associated with the Beau Rivage Casino, this Tom Fazio design provides a real sense of sanctuary. The trees also dictate strategy, like on the 548-yard 6th, a double dogleg with oaks that require players to plot their path.
3. The Greenbrier (Old White TPC)
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
Opened in 1914, this is a rare public-access course by the father of American golf course design, C.B. Macdonald. The layout contains a number of template holes that Mcdonald is famous for, like the Redan 8th, the Alps 13th, and the 15th Eden, which were beautifully resorted by Lester George in 2007.
2. French Lick Resort (Pete Dye Course)
French Lick, Ind.
Routed on the hilltops of one of the state’s highest elevation points, this challenging design, which will host the 2015 Senior PGA Championship, has views (40-mile panoramas) that are almost as long as the course, which is more than 8,000 yards from the tips. In typical Dye fashion, there are plenty of bunkers, too, not to mention narrow, twisting fairways and plenty of rough.
1. Shadow Creek Golf Course
North Las Vegas, Nev.
Affiliated with MGM Resorts International and a monument to ’80s excess, this Tom Fazio oasis 10 miles north of the Strip remains Sin City’s and the casino world’s top course. Fazio didn’t “find” any holes here. He built every single one by bringing in 21,000 trees and moving millions of cubic yards of dirt, “exceeding an unlimited budget,” as the story goes.