Mesquite: Value Golf Getaway with Working Man Vibe 0 38

(MESQUITE, Nev.) December 10, 2011 — Imagine Elephant Butte or Socorro, N.M., with more than one great golf course and a bunch of value casinos and you have Mesquite, Nev. — the working man’s Vegas.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of reasons to spring for a trip to the original Sin City, but golf value generally isn’t one of them. Eighty miles northeast of the Vegas Strip, though, you’ll find plenty of wow for your golf dollar in Mesquite, a city full of regular folks happy you’re there and eager to make you want to come back.

Both Mesquite — and neighboring golf-rich St. George, Utah, just over the state line — are a hefty 10- to 11-hour drive from Albuquerque or Santa Fe, but there’s plenty to see along the way: Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Las Vegas itself, for starters.

If you’re not into sightseeing or your golf buddies are pressed for time, opt for a 1-hour 15-minute Southwest flight from Albuquerque to Vegas’ McCarran International, followed by a 70-minute blast up Interstate 15 by rental car.

An annual winter meeting of golf writers usually held in Scottsdale was moved this year to Mesquite to show off Mesquite’s and St. George’s golf offerings. Leaving aside the area’s best-known property, Wolf Creek Golf Course, which you’ve surely seen on TV, here are some first impressions of layouts that command $150 to $200 at peak season in early spring, but far less off-season:

Coyote Springs Golf Club, in the middle of UFO nowhere north on U.S. 93 , has all the hallmarks of a Jack Nicklaus design — plenty of tough pin placements, plus devilish sand and grass bunkers that guard elevated greens so, surprise, mishit approaches end up in deep hollows.

Conditions are immaculate at this formidable course, which plays 6,215-7,471 yards. Building Coyote Springs cost a whopping $42 million, thanks to infrastructure that could withstand a nuclear blast.

Eerily, the course doesn’t have a single home or anything else anywhere around it. It sits all alone at a T intersection in the desert — reminiscent of Charles Keating’s ghost-town-like Estrella Mountain Ranch back in the 1990s before it took off. Just 55 miles north of the Strip, Coyote Springs is so isolated, auto tourists driving in from the north regularly limp into his golf shop asking to bum enough gas to make it to Vegas, says Director of Golf Karl Larcom.

Coyote Springs is well worth the high-speed run north to play top-shelf golf for a fraction of what you’d pay if you stayed in town. Contact Coyote Springs.

Falcon Ridge Golf Course, smack in the middle of Mesquite, is a tough roller-coaster layout with vertigo-inducing elevation changes, spectacular vistas and wild greens across 4,423-6,546 yards. Play and be pummeled by it once and you’ll want to return for payback.

Designer Dennis Rider of Wold Creek fame did a great job working Falcon Ridge into natural canyons and ridges, but expect a few surprises your first time on holes where Mother Nature forced blind shots and radical elevation changes into the mix. Contact Falcon Ridge.

Coral Canyon Golf Club, just outside St. George, Utah, is a dramatic 35-minute drive from Mesquite through a steep canyon carved by the Virgin River. This Keith Foster design has all the beauty of a Tom Fazio work, with the same gorgeous visuals from the tee box — menacing fairway bunkers that look the ocean breaking over a distant reef. Solution: Consult the yardage book and pick a line to one you can’t reach.

Coral Canyon, like the rest of St. George, is a playground for vacationing second-home owners from Salt Lake City. It delivers the goods with great conditions across 4,125-7,200 yards, broad landing areas, honest greens, great service and a playability you couldn’t get tired of if you played it every day for a month. Contact Coral Canyon.

Conestoga Golf Club, (5,017-5,272 yards) a Troon Golf-managed course within the Del Webb Sun City Mesquite community, has that little bit extra in service and conditioning you expect from Troon, plus massive stonework retaining walls that must have kept an entire Caterpillar plant busy for months.

The course itself, perfectly groomed and ready for a TV event, was built by Gary Panks in the same straightforward style as Panks’ Twin Warriors Golf Club design at Santa Ana Pueblo, with the exception of several canyon-following holes on the front, notably the Par 5 6th, where topography dictates several blind shots — one involving a fairway-ending cliff you’ll need to drive forward to see and comprehend the first time you play. Contact Conestoga.

Golf Mesquite began developing at about the same time New Mexico golf did back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Like our own casino-owned desert courses, several of its nine golf properties have matured into premier value destinations that keep bringing back buddies’ golf trips year after year.

If you go: Consider staying at the older but friendly Casablanca Casino Hotel. Its rooms are slightly dated but comfortable and well-maintained. The $5.99 steak-and-eggs breakfast in the Fez Coffee Shop is terrific and Casablanca has $2 blackjack tables for the low-rolling working stiffs among us. Contact the Casablanca Casino Hotel

— Dan Vukelich

Postscript:

Bryce CanyonNational Park and Zion National Park are just up road from St. George. Zion’s Virgin River is a world-famous hiking destination where sheer canyon walls tower hundreds of feet, and the river bottom, where you actually walk in shallow water, can narrow to barely more than shoulder-width.

The Mesquite Amateur, now in its 10th year, attracts up to 600 golfers from around the world in flighted competitions May 28-June 1. Three rounds of golf and four nights of lodging cost $475. Don’t delay, though, because it typically fills up by the March 31 deadline. Contact the Amateur.

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Los Cabos’ Quivira: Pebble Beach in Mexico 0 174

Quivira Golf Club No 6

Nicklaus Tested by Beautiful, Severe Baja Terrain

“Have you ever walked the golf course,” I asked Quivira Golf Club Los Cabos’ director of golf, Antonio Reynante.

“My assistants and I tried it once, but we couldn’t get past Number 6,” the fit-looking 35-year-old former mini-tour player told me. “We had to call the shop to come out and take us back in golf carts.”

It wasn’t an indictment of his staff’s physical conditioning so much as a testament to architect Jack Nicklaus’ ability to design a golf course that starts at 30 feet above sea level and climbs to nearly 400.

Quivira Hole No 15 “I thought it was a very challenging yet spectacular piece of property,” Nicklaus said when the course opened in 2014.

“I hope most people will think it’s the most spectacular golf course and the best golf course they have ever seen. And yes, some other people will say, “You have got to be kidding.

That’s an honest appraisal. A cynic might say that Quivira is just a clown’s mouth or windmill away from goofy golf, but in my mind Nicklaus cast aside his usual highly engineered approach; instead, he let Quivira’s landscape dictate an appealing compromise between playability for the vacationing player, visual impact and sustainability.

The result is a track that Golf magazine named “Best New International Course” in 2014. In 2016, Golf Digest gave it the magazine’s Editor’s Choice award for best golf resort in Mexico or Central America.

The Challenge

Part of The Golden Bear’s solution to the challenging elevation changes at Quivira is the longest cart path I’ve ever ridden – 1,500 meters, or just shy of a mile – switch-backing its way 250 vertical feet along the flank of a massive dune-topped granite ridge rising above the ocean.

The ride is both exhilarating and relaxing, much like the first long ascent on an amusement park roller coaster. As you climb between Nos. 4 and 5, the views of the receding golf shop, beach, and the occasional humpback whale breaching well beyond the surf break are reasons enough to pat yourself on the back for choosing Cabo.

Quivira Golf Club Hole No 5Cresting the last switchback to the No. 5 tee box brings a truly vertigo-inducing view – the kind that snaps your senses to full alert, makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and announces in no uncertain terms that, yes, your golf vacation has finally begun.

To the left: the Pacific Ocean and a sheer drop of 280 feet. To the right: the ridge rising higher still. To the front: a narrow ribbon of grass leading to an unseen green dangling some 100 feet below the layup spot in the fairway. The putting surface itself is perched 125 feet above the surf.

It’s not often I’m thankful to see a “Cart paths only this hole” sign, but this was one of those times. The thought of our cart launching us a la “Thelma and Louise” into the ocean fleetingly crossed my mind.

Quivira No 6 holeThe Par 3 6th is no less spectacular. I’ll let the course description do the talking: “The tee shot must find and hold a long narrow green that drops off to a cavernous bunker and oblivion on the left.”

“Oblivion” would be the Pacific. From the back tee box, the putting surface is but a speck of green 180 yards away, sky blue above, ocean blue to the left, granite brown to the right.

Multiple Personalities

Quivira Golf Club No 13Once the course turns inland, the rest of Quivira’s holes range in personality from those you’d find on the sandy links courses of Scotland to those you’d find in Scottsdale or tucked in the folds of the hills and ravines of Northern California.

What you’ll likely not find elsewhere, though, are Quivira’s four staffed, on-course food and beverage stations, where complimentary beer, wine, tacos and other hand-held fare are freely offered. The halfway house, called the Oasis, features regional cuisine and a full tequila bar.

Pueblo Bonito Hotel and poolQuivira is part of the Pueblo Bonito family of resorts, which has three Cabo hotels, the Pacifica, an adult-oriented beach-side hotel, the Sunset Beach, a family-oriented hotel sited next to a 161,000-square-foot central food market, and the Greco-Roman-themed Rose Resort. For those seeking extra privacy, affiliated residential communities offer condos and freestanding ocean-view villas for rent.

If You Go

What: Quivira Golf Club Los Cabos, Pueblo Bonita Resort

Where: Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur California, Mexico

When: Moderate temperatures year-round

How much: Greens fees, $227-$370, depending on season; $213 per round as part of a three-round stay-play package. Rooms start at $466 a night.

All the Pueblo Bonito properties in Cabo offer activities that include swimming with the dolphins, whale-watching, jet skiing and guided fishing trips. All offer a variety of spa treatments.

Getting to Cabo San Lucas is a snap, with easy connections through Phoenix. One wrinkle you should know about: For a reason no one I asked could explain, you can take golf balls in your carry-on baggage on the flight to Cabo but Mexican authorities will confiscate them before you board on your return.

 Dan Vukelich is the senior editor at ABQ Free Press, a former editor at Sun Country Golf magazine and editor of newmexicogolfnews.com. Reach him at dan@newmexicogolfnews.com.

Phoenix’s West Valley Gets a Winner with Victory Club 1 1039

Verrado Victory Golf Club

Rocky Foothills Now 7,258 Yards of Emerald Fairways

The Phoenix Metro just got another great new golf course — the Victory Course at Verrado Golf Club in the West Valley — that can be had for an introductory rate of $99, with a replay for $25.

This one’s a must-play for Spring Training fans flocking to the Valley of the Sun to see Cactus League baseball in a couple weeks. It’s off I-10, about 12 miles northwest of the Metro’s western-most Spring Training venue, Goodyear Ball Park, where the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds train.

Designed by PGA Tour player Tom Lehman, the Victory Club was built on a former proving ground for Caterpillar heaviest and toughest earth-moving equipment.

Victory Club at VerradoLehman called his new layout “surreally beautiful.” He said the rugged rock environment dramatically contrasts against “immaculately maintained fairways and greens.”

In every way, he said, “We’ve truly used whatever the land has given us and left the terrain all natural, so it looks like the course has been built right into the land. In fact, I can’t think of another course in Arizona that is quite like it.”

The Victory Club is the first course to open in the West Valley since its sister course, Verrado, opened in 2002. Its opening coincides with Arizona’s peak golf season.

“Because Victory’s debut is so special, we wanted to do something special for our guests, too,” said Doug Foss, director of marketing for Verrado Golf club. “We know there has been a lot of anticipation about the course opening, and I think what people will find when they come and play it is that Tom Lehman has really added another true gem to the Arizona golf scene.”

The Victory Club is 32 due west of Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, hard against the White Tanks Mountains.

To play Victory now for just $99, and get the replay, which the club is calling “the bounceback round,” for just $25, visit www.verradogolfclub.com or call (623) 388-3000.

Dan Vukelich, former editor of Sun Country Golf magazine, in Albuquerque, N.M., is the editor of ABQ Free Press, an alternative newspaper. He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers Association. Reach him at dan@freeabq.com.