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Golfing Las Vegas

Rio Secco Golf Club
2851 Grand Hills Drive, Henderson, NV; 888-TO-SECCO. Yardage: 7,332. Par: 72. Architect: Rees Jones. Green fees: $190-$225 for Rio guests; $300 public.
T&L GOLF Rating: ****1/2

Rio Secco, which is affiliated with the Rio All-Suite Casino Resort in Las Vegas, demonstrates that Jones (known for designing resort courses that are "playable" for golfers of all handicaps) can also bare his teeth. The course challenges with a trio of dauntingly difficult par fours—the 478-yard second, the 489-yard eleventh and the 472-yard eighteenth—as well as the menacing, majestic 417-yard, par-four seventh, where the green crouches in front of a semicircular wall of rock. The ample but always undulating putting surfaces have some of the severest and the subtlest contours Jones has ever shaped.

Shadow Creek
3 Shadow Creek Lane North, Las Vegas, NV; 888-778-3387. Yardage: 7,239. Par: 72. Architect: Tom Fazio. Green fees: $500.
T&L GOLF Rating: ****1/2

Opened in 1989, Shadow Creek has won raves, though its shortish par-three holes have prompted some prickly pros to distain it as less than championship caliber. Steve Wynn originally conceived this man-made oasis as the ultimate outdoor experience for guests staying at the Mirage, with green fees pegged at $1,000. But he recently sold the Mirage to MGM, and it's now possible to play Shadow Creek for a mere $500 per round. The sheer wonder of gawking at the waterfall-filled, tree-shaded spectacle created out of a patch of barren desert is worth the price—at least once in a lifetime.

Primm Valley Golf Club
31900 South Las Vegas Blvd., Primm, NV; 800-386-7867. Yardage: 6,945 (Lakes course); 7,131 (Desert course). Par: 71 (Lakes); 72 (Desert). Architect: Tom Fazio. Green fees: $55-$195.
T&L GOLF Rating: ****

Fazio offers a twofer at Primm Valley that makes it well worth driving to the California border to what was once just a highway-side gas station. The Lakes course is the more challenging: You get a quick eye-opener at the 530-yard, par-five second, which doglegs downhill toward an enormous angled green protected by one of the eponymous bodies of water. The Desert course is designed to highlight vistas of the surrounding wastelands and not-too-distant mountains. Unless you're a straight hitter who finds every fairway, you may often feel like you're golfing through the middle of nowhere—and you are.

Royal Links Golf Club
5995 E. Vegas Valley Blvd., Las Vegas, NV; 888-397-2499. Yardage: 7,029. Par: 72. Architect: Dye Designs International. Green fees: $225-$275.
T&L GOLF Rating: ****

Royal Links greets you with a faux-medieval castle clubhouse fronted by a gigantic statue of the Claret Jug awarded to winners of the British Open. But golfing purists should not let such fantasy-camp clichés put them off. No, the par-four tenth at Royal Links is not an exact replica of the Road Hole at St. Andrews, nor is the par-three eighth hole a true twin of the Postage Stamp at Royal Troon. Even so, Royal Links offers plenty of bona fide challenges with high-end shot-making values. Among the best holes in their own right, exact replicas or no, are the par-four seventh, patterned after the thirteenth at Royal St. Georges, and the par-four thirteenth, a strategic puzzle punctuated with pot bunkers reminiscent of the fifteenth at Prestwick.

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