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Golfing Las Vegas

As good as El Rio is, Los Lagos Golf Club, the newest addition to the valley’s courses, is better still. This Ted Robinson Sr. design opened in 2007 and incorporates various links-style elements—some vast treeless expanses, pot bunkers, heavy rough and ample mounding—that are novel features in a desert setting. The course presents a sporty mix of water hazards, elevation changes and risk-reward scenarios. One of these days, while teeing it up at Los Lagos, I expect to be introduced to playing partners who have made a special trip from Vegas.

There is, of course, more to do in the Mohave Valley than just play golf. You may want to spend a morning or afternoon lounging in a poolside cabana at Harrah’s Laughlin or the Golden Nugget Laughlin, the area’s two best hotels. Or, for an unforgettable side trip, take a high-speed jet-boat tour downriver to see, of all things, London Bridge.

Strange as it may sound, this landmark span—which was first erected over the River Thames in 1831—now straddles a channel of Lake Havasu. How did it get here?In the early 1960s, when the bridge could no longer sufficiently accommodate the London traffic, the British government put it up for sale. Robert McCulloch, an oil tycoon who founded Lake Havasu City, Arizona, purchased it for nearly $2.5 million. The span was taken apart, each stone was numbered, and over a three-year period the bridge was rebuilt in the middle of the desert.

If you decide to head upriver instead, you’ll soon encounter Lake Mohave, a scenery-rich aquatic playground that spreads out south of Willow Beach. The fishing is world-class: Charter a boat and cast for bass (striped, smallmouth, largemouth) and, during the winter, trout.

Another worthwhile extracurricular is the hour-long journey southeast of Laughlin along a remnant of Route 66 to the former gold-mining town of Oatman, Arizona. This near ghost town of the Old West features semi-wild burros, horseback rides and shops selling touristy kitsch. Visitors can peer into the room at the Oatman Hotel where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their wedding night. The perplexed looks on people’s faces when they see the dingy, cramped quarters are worth the trip alone.


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