My venture out to Pahrump on Wednesday morning was just a basic warm-up and a checklist stop. The real point of the day was getting to play at Red Rock Country Club in the afternoon. Many people are familiar with Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock, which is the public course here that I have played a couple times myself. Then, there is the private Mountain Course right next door. That’s what I played Wednesday!
I was able to arrange a round here and a friend drove out to join me. We had set a 2:30 tee time, but like most private clubs, the starting system is a little loose here (especially during their slow time of year). We ended up going off closer to 2:00, following two other member twosomes. Both of them ultimately allowed us to play through and we enjoyed a nice pace of around three hours.
The set-up of the two courses at Red Rock is kind of interesting. There are technically two separate parking lots and two different clubhouses located right next to one another. The cart paths are kind of interconnected and it’s not hard to get from one to the other. In fact, we saw a number of confused Arroyo players driving up to the Mountain facilities. The pro shop up top told me if I wanted to buy a drink before the round (there was a cart girl out on the course), I should go down to the bar at the Arroyo clubhouse. It’s kind of interesting how these sister courses are so intertwined geographically, yet one is public and the other is private.
I still remember the first time I played the Arroyo course and caught a glimpse of the first hole on Mountain while standing on the practice green. I actually assumed that was the course I was about to play. However, it looked pretty yellow out there at that time and I was bummed about the conditions I was about to encounter. It turns out that wasn’t the course I was playing and the Arroyo course was actually in very nice/green shape on that visit.
The good news is that Mountain was in great shape on this visit, but more on that later.
Both courses at Red Rock were designed by Arnold Palmer and considered “Signature” courses. Both have kind of unusual routings as you go through the high-end neighborhoods, cross streets and drive quite a bit between certain holes. I wondered if the 36 holes have been rearranged and switched up between the courses at any point in time. Mountain kind of has a natural 9-hole loop you can play, though the actual full course routing never has you returning to the clubhouse until the 18th hole. I was just curious if both courses were always split up the way they are now.
Further backing that thought is that there are certainly a lot of similarities between the two course designs. They are very much sister courses with complementary styles. The first few holes of the Mountain Course felt awfully familiar with the same setting and design look. However, it ultimately starts to separate itself from Arroyo and you eventually see why this would be considered the star of the two.
I really like Arroyo, but there aren’t that many specific holes that I remember. Mountain has a few stretches of really memorable holes, and it also benefits from having the more scenic part of the property. It is a little higher up on the hillside, so you get some more changes in elevation and the few views of the Vegas Strip are as nice—if not nicer—than those you get on the other course. Then, there are a number of holes right along the base of the mountain with nothing but desert next to you. On a few holes, the golf course is basically is the buffer between the desert wilderness and the homes.
The first stretch that really starts to catch your eye is holes 5-7. The 5th is a pretty long, straight and uphill par-5 with a nice mountain backdrop. The 6th was easily the most memorable par-4 here with a slightly uphill and semi-blind tee shot to a split fairway. You can take the low road left or the high road right before the hole goes back downhill toward the green.
Then, there was my favorite par-3 here, which is the 7th. The tee boxes represent the most elevated points on the course as you hit away from the mountains toward the green below. This hole has a bunch of different tee boxes, so they can really mix up the angles and distances on a daily basis.
The next section that will captivate you is the finishing stretch of holes 14-18. The 14th is a long par-4 situated right next to the 5th and offering similar appeal. The 15th is a nice par-3 along the base of the hillside. The 16th and 17th also run along the desert. These are both short par-4s with tee shots that look much tighter than they are.
Finally, you come to the 18th, which is a signature finishing hole. It is a par-5 that wraps around a giant double lake on the right. It is a beautiful and intimidating hole to end what is a very enjoyable round of golf.
I think the theme of this course is that it is often more forgiving than it looks. There is a lot of desert in play and a handful of water hazards, as well. However, most of the fairways have a lot more room than it appears from the tee and the greens tended to be fairly receptive despite the appearance of false edges and deep bunkers. Maybe I was just playing well, but I felt like I got away with more borderline shots than usual. Unfortunately, I had a really tough time reading the greens and a poor putting performance hampered what could have been a really good score for me.
As for the conditions, the course was in very nice condition and pretty comparable to my two previous positive experiences on the Arroyo course. The tee boxes were excellent and the bermuda fairways were also fantastic with only a few minor brown spots starting to come in as the turf continues to come out of dormancy for summer. The few bermuda sections of rough were coming in very nicely, though most of the rough was overseeded and still very lush and beautifully maintained. The bunkers were nice with a firm base, but they had a good layer of sand to work with and very few of those pesky NV/AZ pebbles! The greens were firm and rolling true at medium speeds.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed my experience at Red Rock Country Club. The course suited my eye well and it’s definitely a couple notches above Arroyo, which is actually more than I expected it to be. It’s easily one I’d recommend to anyone if you have a chance to play it.
Some pictures from Red Rock Country Club (Mountain Course) (5/23/18):
(Click on any picture below to pull up a gallery slideshow.)