Reno, Nevada's Quality Golf Courses

Old Greenwood Golf Club
Fred Vuich

Glitzy resorts and stratospheric greens fees give Las Vegas a lock on golf's high rollers, but for players considering a Nevada road trip, Reno could be the better bet. The values are good, the weather is great and the thin mountain air allows for lots of ego-boosting drives. With dozens of quality tracks a short drive from downtown casinos, you can clean out your buddies on the course by day and lose it all back at the tables that night.

THE GOLF

D'Andrea Golf Club
6,849 yards, par 71
Greens fee: $95-$105
775-331-6363; dandreagolf.com

D'problem most players face at D'Andrea is d'constant elevation change. Designer Keith Foster was handed a hilly plot to work with, and rather than bulldoze it into submission he opted to go with the lay of the land. The character of the course is apparent from the first hole, a steeply sloped par 4 that requires two extra clubs on the approach. But it's even clearer when you reach the third, a nosebleed par 3 that drops severely to a tricky tiered green. Conditions at D'Andrea are usually firm and fast, and the views of downtown Reno and the Sierra Nevadas are superb.

Old Greenwood
7,518 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $100-$170
800-754-3070, oldgreenwood.com

The Bear went into the mountains, and this is what he built. Jack Nicklaus' design sits in the high Sierras, a half-hour drive on the interstate from Reno but a world away in its terrain. This is alpine golf, 8,000 feet above sea level. Although not as sadistic as some of Nicklaus' earlier courses, Old Greenwood punishes misplaced drives by forcing you to shape your approach shot or execute a long and awkward carry over water. The setting is serene, and even when you're standing in the heart of the fairway it feels as if you're wandering through the woods.

Wolf Run
Golf Club
7,100 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $65-$75
775-851-3301, wolfrungolfclub.com

Depending when you play it, Wolf Run can feel like two different courses: a docile animal in the morning or a monster in the wind-whipped afternoon. Elevation changes play a huge role here. The fairways are forgiving and the course has a couple of utterly forgettable holes. But the par 3s are nifty, and Thomas Creek, which wanders through the course, can seem like the Mississippi when the winds at this Wolf begin to howl.

Lake Ridge
Golf Course
6,715 yards, par 71
Greens fee: $65-$75
775-825-2200, lakeridgegolf.com

Home to the other famous island green, Lake Ridge is a Robert Trent Jones Sr. throwback course that draws little defense from length, protecting itself instead with doglegs, ancient oaks and bunkers designed to deceive the eye. Many of the holes have small, elevated greens, but not the signature par-3 15th, which plummets from a skyscraping tee box to an island green. The green is enormous, but as you pause to admire the view it begins to look no larger than a speck in a wind-blown lake.

Red Hawk
Golf Club
Lakes Course: 7,140 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $90-$100
775-626-6000, resortatredhawk.com

The holes have names like Falcon's Run and Heron's Nest, but birdies are scarce here. Red Hawk also has a private course that sets aside a handful of tee times for the public, but the Lakes is actually the better track.

WHAT TO DO

  • The Liberty Belle Restaurant offers rare prime rib and even rarer slot machines. Some 200 of them are here in a slot machine museum, including the Liberty Belle, the late 1800s precursor to the modern one-armed bandit. 775-825-1776, libertybellereno.com
  • Water is bad for golfers but great for kayakers. Truckee River Whitewater Park features a half-mile whitewater kayak course. 775-334-2414, visitreno.com/parks
  • At the Wilbur D. May Museum you'll find Eskimo scrimshaws and many other curiosities collected by the wealthy traveler. 775-785-5961, maycenter.com
  • WHEN TO GO

  • Reno is a year-round town, but peak season for golfers is in summer. Starting around May, greens fees and hotel rates start to climb. All of which makes April a perfect time to make the trip. The weather can be cool, but perfectly playable. And the golf costs roughly half of what it does during the summer.
  • WHERE TO STAY

  • Casinos are never quaint, but the Siena Hotel Spa & Casino comes close. Rooms from $100. 775- 327-4362, sienareno.com
  • With 817 rooms, El Dorado is bustling. Rooms start at $60. 800-879-8879, eldoradoreno.com
  • Watch big-name acts at John Ascuaga's Nugget. Rooms from $132. 800- 648-1177, janugget.com
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