August in Vegas, Day 2

After a fun first day in Vegas, I was back at it again on Thursday. The second round of the get-together was slated for one of the area’s premier courses. It’s one I played before, but I would never turn down the opportunity to play it again at a really great price…

Cascata • Boulder City, NV • 8/18/16

My first visit to Cascata was almost exactly two years ago, and it represented my 500th course played. That’s a scary thought because I am now coming up already on number 800. In fact, I am sitting on number 799 after this Vegas trip and still trying to figure out something special for the next big milestone

I wrote a pretty detailed and glowing review the first time, so I won’t go too deep this time. It was fun to go out there with a group of 16 GK members, most of which were experiencing Cascata for the first time. I purposely use the word “experiencing” because that’s the best way to describe a round here. It’s not just about a great golf course. It truly is an immeasurable experience.

Service-wise, they go above and beyond for guests here and the facilities are truly exceptional. I’m talking about the valets, the greeter who walks you into the clubhouse, the customized name plates on your locker for the day, the indoor cart staging area with a waterfall running through the clubhouse, the immaculate practice facilities, the muffins, drinks and cookies, and so on. When you come to Cascata, you will get spoiled and you will love every minute of it.

Then, there’s the course itself, which is beautiful, interesting and challenging as it goes up and down the rugged desert mountains. There are spectacular views and beautifully framed holes, with each one separate from the last. There are no parallel fairways here. There are some repetitive qualities with most holes either running directly uphill or downhill, but any minor design issues are very easy to overlook when you take in consideration the whole package that is Cascata.

Last time I was here, the place was nearly immaculate. This time, it was a little rougher around the edges with the overseed just a week away, but it was still exceptional by any other measures. The tee boxes were great. The fairways were mostly perfect with just a few minor weak spots here and there. The rough was not as consistent, but still pretty good. The bunkers were great. The greens were fantastic—easily the highlight of the course. They were receptive and rolling smooth and quick on putts.

Now, I’m not the demographic to pay full rack out here in peak season, especially now that I’ve played it twice. I’ve been very fortunate to play here with really great summer deals, but for those who are willing to shell out the dough, you probably won’t be disappointed with the incredible Cascata experience that goes beyond just the excellent golf course.

Some pictures from Cascata (8/18/16):

Like on Wednesday, everybody split up after the round at Cascata. Most stayed behind for a bite to eat or started heading home. I naturally went to play more golf. By the time we finished at Cascata, an ugly storm had rolled in. My pictures of the last few holes there were so bad I didn’t even include them. I didn’t think it would be that bad up closer to the city where I was headed for my second round, but it was a little sketchy for awhile…

Las Vegas National Golf Club • Las Vegas, NV • 8/18/16

I had booked a 3:00 tee time on their website. Their afternoon rate of $29 for a non-resident was the best value I could find on a course I hadn’t played yet, so I went ahead and booked it. As I was driving in from the east, I could see the dark clouds looming over The Strip and heading toward Las Vegas National, which is just to the east. I saw one lightning bolt that scared me a bit.

It was dark and ugly when I arrived at the course, but when I checked in they said they hadn’t gotten any rain or thunder there yet and the bad parts of the storm seemed to be avoiding the course. I took my chances and went for it. The place was not busy at all, so I teed up by myself right away. I played through a couple groups early and ultimately caught some more groups on the back nine. I think the first 13 holes took about as long for me to play as the last 5, but I still finished in about 2.5 hours. The clouds passed and it ultimately cleared up nicely, as well.

Las Vegas National sounds like an important name, but I wouldn’t consider this a destination kind of Vegas course. It is an older track with a lot of local history, so it will hold some appeal to the traditionalist golfers. It opened in 1961 and was known as The Stardust Country Club. It has held numerous pro tournaments over the years. I’m not sure when the Las Vegas National name came to be and I believe the course was also owned by Hilton at one point (considering the Hilton logo still shows on some of the tee signs). Its nickname is “The National.”

The National is a fairly traditional parkland style layout that runs through an older community. In fact, there are a lot of notable homes along the course that were once owned by “Old Vegas” notables (entertainers, mob bosses, political figures, etc.). Most of the tee boxes have signs that describe which houses were owned by which people, so it’s kind of interesting. Supposedly, Rat Pack members were often found hanging out in the clubhouse and having a good old time.

Ultimately, the history is more interesting than the course itself. It’s a solid course for what it is, just nothing as dramatic as the newer style Vegas courses (like Cascata), which are built in the canyons and have more interesting surroundings.

I did enjoy the back nine more than the front. The layout was slightly more intriguing and more water hazards come into play. The 13th and 18th holes were probably the ones that stood out to me. They are very similar as slight dogleg right holes, each with two small ponds along the right side. However, the 13th is a short par-4 while the 18th is a par-5. Both offer good risk/reward options for longer hitters.

The course was in decent late-summer shape, playing better than it looked in places. The tee boxes were fine. The fairways were mostly pretty good, with some scattered thin/bare spots throughout. Same with the rough. The greens were on the firm side and very dry/crusty. They looked ugly and rolled slow, but were reasonably smooth. The bunkers were good and may have been the best on this trip.

If you are looking for a value round close to north end of The Strip, then you can consider Las Vegas National. Some people will definitely enjoy the history of the course and the neighborhood, as well as the relatively forgiving layout, but if you are looking for a more dramatic desert course it’s not the place for you.

Some pictures from Las Vegas National Golf Club (8/18/16):

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