What a tour stop today for the Hooked on Golf Blog World Tour. Today was a round of golf at the University of Michigan Golf Course. This course was designed by Alister MacKenzie, the architect who designed Augusta National Golf Club. Check this photo out:
University of Michigan Golf Course
It has been a long day of traveling, and experiencing some great Michigan golf. It has been especially draining due to the humidity. I’ve already got a bit of a headache, due to being a bit dehydrated.
Stay tuned for more on the HWT and more from Michigan!
There are many amazing golf choices in Las Vegas and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing quite a few. For non-residents the cost of a round of golf in Las Vegas can be quite painful, upwards of $300-$500. There are great values to be found in the area though. With great weather most of the year, conditioning is usually quite good even on courses which are not as expensive. Today’s review features one of the lesser known and better values in Vegas golf, Rhodes Ranch Golf Club.
Rhodes Ranch is roughly a 30 minute drive southwest (depending on crazy Vegas traffic) from the Las Vegas Strip. From the south end of the Strip it could even be as short as 15-20 minutes.
Rhodes Ranch opened in 1997. The course occupies over 160 acres which feature very undulating topography. Those undulations were masterfully used by course architect Ted Robinson Sr., to produce fun challenges and interesting shot options for the player.
The course measures 6,909 from the tips, not terribly long. Length is great, but the course plays better with a more strategic approach. There are many risk/reward opportunities and holes which one can take conservative approaches or opt for more aggressive play. Much of the course is lined by tall, mature palm trees.
First hole heads toward the Las Vegas Strip – click to zoom
Tee shots at Rhodes Ranch are visually pleasing and not extremely threatening, barring a few forced carries. Landing areas are usually obvious, some tempting the player to cut the corner of doglegs.
Errant tee shots will be rewarded with odd lies on the rolling hills which frame the fairways and may be stymied by adjacent palm trees. Poor tee shots will find the Nevada desert. In both errant tee shot cases, players are able to recover without sending their scorecards into oblivion.
The fairways at Rhodes Ranch are wide and inviting, with undulations which can produce challenging lies. Some undulations require some strategy in shot placement for the player, who must pick a proper landing spot in order for the shot to finish in a flat area or a position with a good look at the green.
There are fairway bunkers, arroyos, and a few other challenges which can be penal to poor shots, but not scorecard busters.
One of the best parts about the fairways at Rhodes Ranch is the conditioning and maintenance. See in the photo below how perfect the grass is. Having walked the grounds for the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club many times, I can say without hesitation that the fairways at Rhodes are a very close second. When I asked regulars who play the course often about the conditioning, they told me the course is perfectly maintained year-round.
Look at how perfect the fairways at Rhodes Ranch are!
The green complexes are very scenic. Many feature beautiful landscaping, palm trees, and are framed by fine bunkering.
Putting the greens at Rhodes Ranch was just as fun as playing the perfectly groomed fairways. The conditioning was fantastic and they rolled true, albeit slower than the mountainside greens I’m accustomed to.
The greens were smooth, yet completely receptive to golf shots from even long irons.
The clubhouse at Rhodes Ranch is impressive. On one side is a fully stocked pro shop with lots of great gear and apparel. On the other side is the restaurant, a great place to have a beer or other cold beverage after the round. In my case, make that two.
The practice facilities are top notch, with a large desert driving range and a very large practice green which could accommodate dozens of players.
For a non-resident player during a primetime slot, rates at Rhodes Ranch hover around $100. That’s very reasonable for Vegas. If players are willing to brave the heat, twilight rates can cut that cost in half. Resident rates hover around $60 with twilight rates in the $30’s.
Rhodes Ranch Golf Club Las Vegas
From the moment I pulled up to the bag drop to the time I finished off my 2nd frosty beverage in the restaurant, the service level at Rhodes Ranch was excellent. All staff courteous, attentive, and helpful. A special mention goes to the great service of assistant pro Jeff Bricker in the pro shop.
Before booking a round of Vegas golf at the Wynn Golf Club, Bali Hai, Rio Secco, or Cascata, consider Rhodes Ranch. The course is fun to play, manicured brilliantly, and will not beat you up. Plus, you could play this fun course several times for the cost of playing the expensive Vegas courses once.
Before Sunday’s morning round at Salt Lake City’s Bonneville Golf Course the skies were blue and there was very little wind. That meant an opportunity to get the drone out and do a quick flight before hitting the first tee.
It was a quick seven minute flight without much setup or analysis of lighting etc. I caught a couple of cool aerial photos (click photo below to see them) along with a decent video flyover of the 18th green (above). I’m building a big rig which will carry a much bigger and higher quality camera, so the videos and photos will soon be even better.
Bonneville Golf Course – Left to right: driving range, hole #1, hole #18, hole #10
This past Friday the Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour made a stop at Rhodes Ranch Golf Club, a short drive southwest of the Las Vegas strip. I’d been to the property before, but had not had a chance to play it until this visit. While there I visited my friend Jeff Bricker, assistant pro and former Utah local.
Rhodes Ranch – Par-3 3rd Hole
Naturally I shot a ton of photos and I will be posting a course review soon. First impressions are that the course conditions are so good I’d compare them with Augusta National. Seriously! The fairway grass was so perfect and precisely cut, I actually took a photo of it:
Augusta National? Nope. Rhodes Ranch!
enjoyed my round playing on such a finely cared for golf course and the layout was very fun. If not for two doubles on the card, I would have been close to even par on the day. I need redemption!
Following the round I powered up my UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and did some photos and video of the course from above. I prefer to use the term UAV because “drone” has gotten a bad name. It isn’t an invasion of privacy and it isn’t going to blow you up. It is just taking pictures of the golf course!
Rhodes Ranch Golf Club – Aerial view of clubhouse and holes – click for more
Rhodes Ranch Photo Gallery
I’m very happy to have gotten some new pictures of Rhodes Ranch. I had some very poor quality, dark images in the Hooked On Golf Blog Rhodes Ranch Gallery, presumably back in the (literal) dark ages when I didn’t know how to take a photo.
I’ve now deleted all the old crappy photos, and put a few new ones up. I’m still processing some of the images, so check back for more later.
Most people think of Utah as a ski destination and for good reason. The snow here is regarded by many as the “greatest snow on earth.” Golf has a huge impact on the state as well. The size of that impact was not really known until a 2012 study done by independent research company SRI, commissioned by Golf 20/20. I was stunned at the impact and the numbers found in this study. Golf isn’t just a game here in Utah, it is an industry. It is an efficient industry which produces more dollars per acre than other big local industries yet has a fraction of the ecological impact. All of this while providing a fantastic outdoor activity, green space, scenic beauty, and providing jobs.
The 2012 golf industry in Utah generated $806.6 million in economic impact.
The number of golf patrons exceeds the number of ski patrons.
The golf industry in Utah accounts for over 9,600 JOBS.
Those jobs the golf industry creates in Utah produce $250.1 million dollars in wages.
Golf in Utah produces $16,035 per irrigated acre. The nearest competing industry is alfalfa farming at $774 per acre.
Golf brings in $5,529 per acre-ft of water. The nearest competing industry is once again alfalfa farming at $365 per acre-ft of water.
For all of you who think golf courses take up too much space or use too much water, golf in Utah represents only 3.8% of the state’s turfgrass and only consumes 0.65% of the diverted water.
Golf in Utah produced over $11 million in charitable giving.
Governor’s Golf Month Proclamation
In light of these amazing findings, which I merely highlighted a few big ones, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a proclamation yesterday at the state capitol declaring May in Utah as the month of golf. I was happy to be in attendance along with many of the biggest players in Utah’s golf industry.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert Signs Utah Golf Proclamation
I had a chance to speak with the Governor for a few minutes and he is very excited about these findings, and helping the game to flourish and grow in the future. “The continued health and growth of the golf industry has a direct bearing on future jobs, commerce, economic development, and tax revenues for a large number of Utah’s communities and industries.”
I let the Governor know of my independent work as a golf blogger and builder of golf websites, including the Utah Golf Guru site. I joked that the study numbers and the $805.6 million are a little low since they didn’t account for any revenue created by Utah golf bloggers. Make that $805,600,001.