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.
D’Andrea Golf Club
6,849 yards, par 71
Greens fee: $95-$105
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.
7,518 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $100-$170
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.
7,100 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $65-$75
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.
6,715 yards, par 71
Greens fee: $65-$75
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.
Lakes Course: 7,140 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $90-$100
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.
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