Laughlin Ranch Golf Club, Bullhead City, AZ (public). Opening: March.
Ninety miles southeast of Las Vegas on the edge of the Mohave Desert sits a Mini-Me version of Sin City called Laughlin. Only eight thousand permanent residents call it home, but this border town on the Nevada side of the Colorado River greets nearly five million visitors a year, thanks to its recreational opportunities on the river—and the nine major high-rise hotels with casinos that line the riverbanks. Perhaps all that was lacking to catapult Laughlin into the big leagues was a big-time golf community. Boing. There goes the catapult.
Laughlin Ranch is an 11,000-acre development across the river in the Arizona town of Bullhead City. Its centerpiece is a David Druzisky-designed layout that mirrors the region's gold and silver mining roots as it plunges into one canyon after the next. Your first "King of the World" moment occurs with the soaring river view on the third tee, but there are many more, including vistas of the Black Mountains, Lake Mohave and the glittering casinos. Gambling golfers will relish the 650-yard, uphill par-five eleventh and the 355-yard parfour twelfth, which culminates in a cliffside green—a pair of holes where lucky sevens are all too common.
Yardage: 7,297. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $100-$135. Tee Times: 866-684-4653, laughlinranch.com.
Kinderlou Forest Golf Club, Valdosta, GA (semiprivate). Opened: April 2004.
An adventurous addition to the spare golf scene in decidedly rural south Georgia, Kinderlou Forest might seem most notable for its length. At 7,781 yards, it's the longest layout in the Peach State—almost five hundred yards longer than the lengthened Augusta National. But trouble comes in many flavors at this Davis Love III Signature design, as it serves up a dash of Pinehurst, a hint of Arizona and more than a few drams of Scotland.
The semiprivate centerpiece of a tony new residential enclave, this immense, hilly, windblown track—carved from four hundred acres of farmland—alternates between tree-lined and wide open. The rough is interwoven with seas of knee-high wire grass, and creeks thread through fairways that seldom bestow a level lie. The linkslike terrain is often buffeted by erratic gusts that wreak havoc on marginally struck shots. Toughest of all are the large TifEagle Bermuda greens, flanked by steep-faced bunkers, rife with throat-clutching undulations and abrupt drop-offs.
And as for that length?There are five sets of tees. Pick wisely. "We spent a lot of time on the design of forward tees," said Love. "Use the proper set, Kinderlou Forest is fun. Go two sets too far back, you're miserable."
Yardage: 7,781. Par: 72. Greens Fees: $65-$75. Tee Times: 229-219-2300, kinderlou.com.