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The Best Bets in Vegas

Vegas's Lucky 7

Las Vegas is now a legitimate golfing destination, with more courses built every year. As luck would have it, there are exactly seven excellent venues within thirty minutes of the Strip, plus an important eighth (Primm Valley) somewhat farther away--across the border in California, according to the map.

Desert Inn

This golf course is not nearly as showy as the others--no canyons, no horrifying carries, no inherent pitch-and-roll to the terrain--but not every course can or should be of that character. The pros around Las Vegas always name the Desert Inn among their top three or four local courses, which tells you something. The main nod toward fancy resort golf is the computer system mounted in the roof of each golf cart, which provides exact distances to the flagstick from anywhere on any hole. Of course, if the system loses its triangulated downlink, as it did with my twosome at the turn, you're on your own.

Par & Yardage:72, 7,193
Phone:702-733-4290
Greens Fees:$160 for hotel guests, $200 for Caesar's Palace guests, $225 for others

Las Vegas Paiute Resort

If there's a better setting for golf in the region, hire an architect and go to escrow tomorrow. This land twenty miles northwest of the Strip is perfect, always moving and always providing a light show on the flanks of the mountains east and west. The Sun Mountain layout (Tav-Ai Kaiv) has more sand, less water, just as much desert as Snow Mountain (Nu-Wav Kaiv).

Par & Yardage:Sun, 72, 7,112; Snow, 72, 7,158
Phone:800-711-2833
Greens Fees:$130 weekdays, $135 Fri.-Sun.

Primm Valley

Two Tom Fazio layouts about forty miles from the Strip, and well worth the drive. You'll hear the Lakes course described as the poor man's Shadow Creek, and there's truth to that. Add fifteen thou-sand more trees, spend a little more money here and there, tweak the finish work and you'd have a quite comparable golf course. In fact, the tee markers here are superior to those at the Creek.

Par & Yardage:Lakes, 71, 6,945; Desert, 72, 7,131
Phone:800-386-7867
Greens Fees:$125 weekdays, $150 weekends; packages available for guests at local hotels

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