A Mesquite-Flavored Thanksgiving, Day 3: The Road Home

We decided to come home on Saturday to try and avoid some of the holiday traffic. Ultimately, the plan backfired as the drive home was a really long and exhausting one, but we still were able to enjoy some more good golf before taking off…

Palms Golf Club • Mohave County, AZ • 11/29/14

Palms Golf Club is shrouded in a geographical mystery. Is it in Nevada or Arizona?

Take a look at Google Maps and you can clearly see the course sits on the Arizona side of the border. As you drive to the course along the side road next to the freeway, you pass right by the big “Welcome to Arizona” sign. Even in the parking lot, a sign says something about Arizona law prohibiting people from bringing their own beverage coolers on the course.

So, this is clearly an Arizona course, right?

Well, take a look at their scorecard, towels and other items around the clubhouse and it states “Mesquite, Nevada” on everything. Naturally, the course is associated with Mesquite as a popular golf destination and it is right there on the edge of town, so that claim makes sense. It’s all a bit confusing and silly. Frankly, most people probably don’t care, but I can be pretty anal about geography when it comes to what town, county or state a course is in.

Oh well, whatever state Palms Golf Club is in, it’s better than most people give it credit for. I think it’s viewed as more of the “locals” course compared to the bigger named tracks in Mesquite and St. George, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a quality golf experience.

I’ll have to admit it wasn’t my top choice to play on this trip. However, my friend and I had found a great stay and play deal with the Virgin River Casino/Hotel. It was $79 good for any night’s stay and included a round of golf at either Palms or Casablanca. Of the two, Palms was the only one with good morning times available, so that made it our best option for Saturday before hitting the road.

We booked a 7:50 time, but knew a frost delay was possible. There was a slight delay, but we were still the third group off a little after 8:00, paired with another twosome. The staff was nice and friendly. The pace was great and we finished in around four hours.

Like the other Mesquite courses we played this trip, Palms is another tale of two nines. The front nine is the one you can see from the freeway and it looks extremely plain and boring from there. It is pretty wide open and flat, but there is a little more to it than meets the eye. A number of water hazards come into play and there are a few interesting holes. Still, it’s nothing too exciting.

However, things really perk up on the back nine as you play along a ridgeline and then down along the edge of a canyon. There are some nice changes in elevation, a few great views and a number of really enjoyable holes. It’s nothing near as dramatic as what you’ll find at Wolf Creek, Conestoga or Falcon Ridge, but it’s still a cool setting for a course.

The par-5 10th was probably my favorite hole with an elevated tee and then a sweeping downhill dogleg left. It is a very nice-looking hole and a great scoring opportunity. I thought both of the par-3s on the back nine were also good.

Palms was in good playable shape all around. The tee boxes were nice and the fairways were pretty good, though there were a lot of goose “presents” left behind. The rough was completely dormant bermuda and shaved down, so it was not penal at all. The fairway/rough cuts are nicely defined here giving the course a well-framed look for winter. The bunkers were good and the greens were solid. Like everywhere else, maybe a bit firm this time of year, but rolling smooth at a good speed and somewhat deceptive to read.

In the context of Mesquite and St. George, where there are so many great golf options, Palms is one that should be lower on your “to do” list. However, I left there with a positive feeling about the experience. It was a great deal, the conditions were nice and the layout offered more than I expected. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.

Some pictures from Palms Golf Club (11/29/14):

As you might expect, we weren’t quite ready to call it quits after just one round. Again, we weren’t sure about getting out and finishing at another Mesquite course because they all probably had frost delays in the morning and would be backed up on a Saturday afternoon.

We headed out of Mesquite and weighed our options as we neared Las Vegas. Ultimately, we found something worth checking out…

Angel Park Golf Club (Cloud Nine) • Las Vegas, NV • 11/29/14

This was a good solution to squeeze in one more relatively quick round while ensuring we got to play a full course. Knowing this was just a 12-hole par-3 layout, it made perfect sense.

Actually, during the day, Cloud Nine is a 12-hole course. At night, under the lights, it is only 9 holes. They take a stretch of 3 and remove them from the nighttime routing, so I am glad I ultimately played it during the daytime.

We got there around 2:00 and it was a bit chaotic with a wedding about to start and very strong winds whipping around in the afternoon. We encountered no winds in Mesquite the whole time we were there, so it was a bit of a shock when we arrived in Vegas.

The price was $14 to walk, but we shelled out an extra $10 each to get a cart. With a long drive home ahead, we didn’t want to expend any extra energy.

The wind was a big part of the story for us on Cloud Nine. It made what is already a fun and somewhat challenging little course really insane. We had balls land in the middle of greens, but the combination of winds and some severe slopes would force them off and trundling down the hills into the desert.

There are some pretty severe side-slopes at Cloud Nine and some really deep bunkers, as well. Even though it’s a short course, it is professionally designed with a great look and feel to put your short game to the test.

It was designed by Bob Cupp and claims to be kind of a “tribute” course. Holes are vaguely modeled after some famous holes (or hole “concepts” as the scorecard says), but don’t really mimic the real holes too precisely. For instance, there’s a hole paying tribute to TPC Sawgrass #17 with an island green and another utilizing a bunker in the middle of a green like Riviera #6, but neither really resemble their more notable counterparts. That is not to say they aren’t both really fun and unique holes, though.

Cloud Nine is a course where beginners and novices can have some fun and learn more than they would on a more basic “pitch and putt” layout, but it’s also a course where serious golfers can enjoy themselves a lot. In a gambling town like Vegas, it’s a great place to go with your buddies and lay down some challenge bets.

The course was in pretty nice shape overall. The greens were nice and rolling fast, so that was great to see.

Cloud Nine is worth a visit. The whole Angel Park facility is fantastic with two championship courses, this night-lit par-3 course and even a really evil putting course that also has lights. It’s got a little something for golfers of all levels!

Some pictures from Angel Park Golf Club (Cloud Nine) (11/29/14):

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