November in Vegas, Day 3: Live at Red Rock

Over the years, I’ve learned my personal limit in Las Vegas is about 3 days. By then, I’m pretty wiped out. I’m not a hardcore partier or gambler, but just walking around, eating big meals and staying out a little later (while still getting up at the crack of dawn for golf), takes its toll after a few days.

Luckily, I did well with the gambling on Saturday night, which made staying an extra day well worth my while. And ultimately, I had one round of golf left in me Sunday morning before heading home.

Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock • Las Vegas, NV • 11/10/13

I didn’t know a ton about this course coming in, but it turned out to be the most appealing choice for a Sunday morning round. Having played so much golf this year with many of those bookings through GolfNow, I’ve made my way up the ladder quite quickly on their Rewards Program. I have earned a free “hot deal” single time, which I haven’t used yet. And just before this Vegas trip, I had earned a free “hot deal” twosome reward.

A friend and I decided Vegas would be a perfect place to use the free round since the prices are so high at most courses there right now. Arroyo was originally listed at $130, so it seemed like a good deal to snatch that up for free. Over the course of the week, we did see that price drop a bit more (down to $85), but free is free so we scored either way!

Arroyo Golf Club is part of the large Red Rock Country Club community west of the city. It’s set up next to the hills and Red Rock Canyon and there are many nice homes in these neighborhoods. There is a private course in the community and a couple public tracks, including Arroyo and its sister course, Siena.

According to the starter, Arroyo was in the best shape of them all. In fact, he really pumped up the conditions before our round, so we’ll talk more about that later.

We had a 9:40 tee time. When we checked in they informed us they were running a tad behind, though it really didn’t seem too busy around the clubhouse. They did give us each a free drink ticket, though, so that was a nice touch that came in handy when buying a Gatorade from the cart girl later.

We ended up teeing off on time. We were playing as a twosome sandwiched between other groups, so the pace felt a little slow at times. We still finished in just under 4.5 hours, though, so it wasn’t bad at all.

Arroyo Golf Club was designed by Arnold Palmer and is listed as a “signature” course, which generally means he had a lot to do with the architecture. It really didn’t feel that much like any other Palmer courses I have played, but it’s still a solid design.

Where I couldn’t ever get comfortable at Arroyo was on the tee boxes. I’m not a long hitter, but I’m generally pretty consistent with my driver, especially when I have a nice visual “target” landing area. From the black tees we played (golds are the tips here, so we were one up from the back set) it’s not always easy to tell where the ideal landing area is. On many holes, you can see pieces of fairway and pieces of fairway bunkers beyond a forced carry (either water or desert), but it doesn’t give you a clear perspective.

For whatever reason, the course never really suited my eye and my game suffered because of it. That’s not an excuse for many of the terrible shots I hit, but I feel it did contribute to an “uncomfortable” feeling all day long. That, and being pretty dead tired after three nights in Vegas and 36 holes each of the days prior. There were times I felt like I was sleepwalking out there.

I think the tee shots are the most challenging aspect of the Arroyo design. Once you get out to the fairways, the rest of the holes lay out pretty clearly in front of you. As long as you’ve positioned yourself well, good approach shots can help you produce a decent score. However, the rough was quite thick that day, so getting up and down if you did miss a green wasn’t necessarily an easy task.

Arroyo features a solid desert layout that may be overshadowed by the setting itself. Houses surround the course, but don’t detract much because they are nice homes. They will come into play with a severely sprayed drive. Otherwise, most every hole has a nice backdrop with the hills and mountains behind. We noticed that the best view on most hole is usually facing one way or the other, then the opposite view isn’t anything too special. In other words, sometimes the approach shot would provide a great view with scenery behind the green. And then sometimes, you’d have to look back from behind the green itself to get the more stunning view.

Either way, there’s no shortage of nice scenery throughout the course, so it lived up to my expectations there.

Speaking of expectations, I mentioned how much the starter pumped up the conditions before we teed off. Ultimately, I’d say the conditions were about average compared to the rest of the courses I played on the trip. Very good, but far from immaculate. There were thin and patchy areas throughout the fairways and rough. The greens were mostly fine and the sand traps had adequate coverage. My point is I would have been very pleased with the conditions had the guy not set our expectations so high. It kind of made me look for any bad spots rather than focus on the good ones.

That’s a minor issue because, like I said, the conditions were quite good overall. I always find it interesting when courses oversell the conditions because it makes me focus on the negatives. Personally, I believe in the service theory of under-promise and over-deliver. Arroyo Golf Club apparently does not.

All in all, I would give Arroyo Golf Club a positive review. It’s a good course in a great setting. Having paid for free, it allowed me to enjoy it even more, but I still couldn’t help but think about their normal rates here. Had I paid the $85 they were asking by the end of the week, it would have been a tad expensive, but somewhat reasonable compared to most Vegas golf rates this time of year. If I had paid $130, I would have been much less impressed. If I would have paid more (as in the weekend rack rates), I would consider it highway robbery. All Vegas golf is expensive, so it comes with the territory. I’d say Arroyo is a middle-of-the-road option, so I personally wouldn’t want to pay top-end prices to play it.

Some pictures from Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock (11/10/13):

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