Course Review: Wolf Creek (Mesquite, NV)

September 22, 2011

This review is long overdue. It is overdue not only because LG and I played it a few months before starting this blog–and it would’ve been a tremendous subject at that time–but also it is overdue because LG and I both feel that this is one of the top courses we’ve ever played.

In April of 2010, LG and I traveled to Las Vegas for a golf & gambling week to celebrate our nearing graduation from law school. We had a great time and played some great courses, one of which we both reviewed for our first course review of the PF (here and here At the same time, we made a trip to Mesquite NV to play what has been hailed since its opening in 2001 as one of America’s 100 top courses: Wolf Creek.

At $195/round, LG and I played 36 that day (the rates were a little lower in the afternoon, but April is still the most expensive time of the year to play). We were the first car in the parking lot at 6AM and the last car to leave at 8PM. We stayed overnight at the Virgin River Hotel, Casino, Eatery, Bowling Center, and Ice Cream Parlor (although it’s actually only a hotel/casino, it actually does have all of those things). Am I ever thankful I did that.

Wolf Creek is an amazing golf course. It is unlike any other place I’ve played–including some of America’s top 100 and several PGA Tour spots. The course is an amalgamation of what LG and I call “17 signatures holes (and one afterthought hole).” At almost 7,000 yards from the tips, the course actually plays fairly short given the massive elevation changes and the desert air.

The reason LG and I are reviewing this course now is that we recently returned on our trip to Vegas a few weekends ago. At the end of August/beginning of September, the rates are as cheap as you can get. The course was in rougher shape than when we played the first time, as the fairways had been burned out and were ready for overseeding. In fact, we played the day before the course closed for two weeks in preparation for overseeding. However, the price was right, and at only $55 per person, it was well worth the return trip. (note, pictures in this part of the review are from April.)

As a reviewer, the course is just downright fun. There are MANY holes where standing on the tee makes you shiver, if not for the amazing views then for the torture of the shot you’re about to hit. Many balls are hit from elevated tees, where the player must blast the ball 50 to 100 feet down into a canyon below. The course is EXTREMELY challenging off the tee but actually quite easy from the fairway. Many shots into greens were under 160 yards, making for some pretty simple approaches. Although there are dead spots, the course plays pretty fair.

And, if you’re not shivering from the views or the challenge, you might actually be shivering from being 100 feet up on a ledge with no guard rail. Some of these places…well…it doesn’t feel right. Both LG and I almost fell into a canyon trying to retrieve a ball he hit. Although the staff tells you not to go into the desert, it’s not that difficult to trek in and find your ball most times.

I must say that my favorite hole of all is the one that is ranked #4 most challenging, the par 4 14th. After a few fairly easy holes, the 14th comes with a huge carry over a ravine into a split fairway. The view is tremendous, with a large, freshly-cut green hill as a backdrop for which to aim. The green is fun. The first time we played, LG hit the cart path right of the green, and the ball kept going and going down the hill. LG had a full 8-iron to get back up near the green, but he pulled it off.

(LG Commenting:)
After the beautiful 14th, the golfer is then treated to one of the shorter drives to the 16th tee.  Wait, 16th?  Sorry, we forgot the 15th.  To us, so did the designer of the course.  We described the course as 17 signature holes and one “afterthought” hole because the par-3 16th just feels a little out of place.  Even from the back tees, this tiny little par three measures only 125 yards from the tips and plays significantly shorter because it is straight downhill.  During our first adventure to Wolf Creek, JK and I came to this hole thinking, wow, I hope 16-18 leave us with something to think about.  After JK teed off however, he looked over at me and said “Hey.  Just hit it in the hole.”  I replied, “Yeah, okay.”  “No, seriously.  Just hit it in the hole.”  At that time, we were playing from the blue tees which left us exactly 116 yards to the flag.  I took my PW and hit one of the first shots where I remember thinking “wow, that was pure.”  The ball drew slightly as though drawn by the flagstick.  It landed about 3 feet passed the flag and rolled back toward the hole.  JK and I watched and sank to our knees as it lipped out and rolled to the left of the flag.  With that memory in mind, I was looking forward to the 15th more than any other hole during our second trip.  This time, I made the mistake of overclubbing and, well, that’s where the story of JK and me almost falling in the canyon came from.

My near hole in one on this trip, however, came from the par-3 11th.  That’s right folks, I’m about 15 feet away from 7 holes in one if you count them all up.  This time, the 11th was playing around 215 yards from the tips (straight downhill).  JK hit some absurdly short club like a 7 iron while I was hitting my hack 5 iron.  I had the honor from the devilish 10th hole (somehow double won).  After putting a good move on this ball, it landed just short of pin high and right of the green.  We watched from the tee as it trundled down the sidehill slope and rolled straight toward the pin.  We both watched fixated as it slowed near the flag and stopped 2 feet short of the hole.  JK was kind enough to concede the bird.  Maybe I’ll get that Ace next time, Wolf Creek.

All in all, Wolf Creek gives the air of a top-ranked, championship caliber golf course with the finest accommodations. The clubhouse grill is top notch as well, serving great food and great views of the course. Every hole is an opportunity for a computer background photo. At $200/round in peak condition, it’s certainly not cheap, but it is completely worth it for every golfer.

Price: 6/10
Value: 9/10
Experience: 10/10
Condition: 9/10 in April, 6/10 in September
Course Accommodations: 8/10
Cache: 9/10
Overall: 9/10. Even though there are literally hundreds of courses in and surrounding Las Vegas, I will continue to return to this course on most of my trips there.


One Response to “Course Review: Wolf Creek (Mesquite, NV)”

  1. athom0206 Says:

    Looks like one of the most challenging Golf Courses in Las Vegas . I think I would do fairly awful here, but that’s why we play this great game. Because it’s so frustrating right!?

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