"So I jump ship on Hong Kong, make my way over to Mesquite and the Wolf Creek golf course"
So, I have been back from America for a few days now, but I still cannot really think of the best way to desrcibe the Wolf Creek golf course. It's so good that anything I could type here would not do it justice. This is a golf course that you must experience for yourself before you can really know it. The best way I could put it into words is to say that Wolf Creek is genuinely, the most extreme, entertaining, pure, fantastic, amazing day you could ever have on a golf course. No matter which way you look, you see sights that will amaze you. You may run out of memory room on your phone or camera, just because you "have to" keep taking photos. If you don't, people back home will not believe you when you describe the course in any detail.
The area of Mesquite is perfect for spectacular golf courses. The mountain area is about a 85 minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip area on a perfect Las Vegas flat highway at a very reasonable 75 miles per hour speed limit (120kms). A few miles out from your destination the highway starts to rise and dip and you get the feeling you are getting close. From what we were told about this golf course before coming here, we were getting excited to see it. Around a pretty non descript corner of road, the pretty non descript gates come into view. Practice area to the right, car park and a smallish looking clubhouse and pro shop. Nothing very amazing so far. We took a visit to the pro shop and were greeted by some great friendly staff who obviously have heard their fair share of stories over the years. After them telling us how much they loved Australian tourists, they pointed us in the direction of the starter and warned us that this course was not a driver course. "Play smart out there" was the last advice they gave us. We were unsure by what they meant by that, but were soon to find out.
We were paired with Bill and Barb, a nice American couple from San Francisco, and we got together with the starter to discuss the rules of Wolf Creek and the tee system. After telling the starter we were wishing to play it from the tips, we were told to back up and go around the clubhouse to the long tee, but first we had to sign a waiver about the cart and then get a witness to co-sign as well. The reason is, that the cart driver must be very switched on. No drinking and driving here, as it may kill you. The cart paths are flat out dangerous. To call them steep is a massive understatement, they are straight up and straight down a lot of the time and require some concentration to navigate. This golf course also hides the tip tees, reason being is that they really don't want people playing from them. Some take many stairs to get to and some provide such a blind shot, that they are dangerous to the other golfers on the course. Taking all of that in, we headed for the 1st hole.
The 1st hole at Wolf Creek is a 529m par 5. The tip tees gave us very little indication as to where to land the ball, although not left and not right is the call on most holes here. Stay straight or score plenty. Only after we came around past the starter again did we see the course proper. It is stunning! The view was what we were waiting for and I instantly reached for the camera and started snapping away. The hole itself comes down from on high to a low point, then staright back up again to a smallish green. Bunkers litter the left hand side and a few on the right as well will see you happy making par. Birdie is on offer for the longer hitter, just make sure you take an extra club from the fairway, as it is up hill a bit.
Onto the 2nd and this is where playing the tips made us regret our decision. Stairs, followed by stairs, followed by more stairs had us gasping for breath by the time we got to the tee. The view from the top is amazing, but our playing partners looking bored down below made us hit too quickly and we failed to hit the fairway. Not that it matters at Wolf Creek, because believe me, it's not all about the score here. Take your line of entry into the waste areas, 2 club lengths and take a drop. There are many areas here that you just will not find your golf ball, no matter how long you look for it. Take the drop and move on. The hole swings around to the left, after you finally arrive on the fairway and you should leave your ball below the hole on this 2 tiered green if you want to have a good putt. Otherwise, you could go off the front as it's tough from the back of this green. This hole is rated #1 toughest.
The 3rd is the first par 3 at Wolf Creek and again we chose the tip tees. This means we basically have no line of sight at the pin. You can guess the location from the few bunkers you see, but it is just a guess. The green sits on top of a plateau and you cannot go long or the ball will be gone. Short is not great either. Neither is left or right. This is trus with most holes here, so just get used to it, or suffer from a large score. 3 here is a fantastic score.
4 is a 350 meter, par 4 which again puts a premium on hitting the fairway. We now know what the pro shop guy was laughing and talking about when he told us that Wolf is not a driver course. If we had of taken his advice, we could have scored a little better on these first few holes. We only really needed driver for about 5 or 6 holes all day. We did decide to take a fairway wood here and both hit the middle. Only a wedge to the green has us back on track with a couple of pars.
The 5th is a par 5 and presents options off the tee. Depending on your level of confidence and skill, you can choose to lay up before the creek crossing, which is 211m off the tee, but it is downhill, so taking it on could prove worth it. We both hit fairway woods and easily made it over. Your second shot goes uphill so take extra and keep it out of the left hand 3 bunkers. Plenty of club will see you over any trouble.
The 6th looks like it's pretty easy. A large, wide fairway that looks very inviting, but beware. The creek crossing sits at 268m, but it is downhill and will catch the bigger hitter. The best play here is to take a hybrid or 5 wood short of it and leave yourself with a 130-140m shot into this tricky green. High at the front, it then slopes back to front in the middle. Left is a deep bunker so try to avoid it.
The 7th hole again presents options. Although you may be temted to drag out driver and bomb this 276 meter downhill par 4, you will not make it. The green sits on top of a small bluff and hitting short with a long iron then a wedge is the play. Do not go long here as the rear hill slopes horribly towards the green and chip shots will be nearlt impossible to stop. Par is a really good score here, so don't get greedy.
8 is an extremely tough shot from the blue markers or tips. The 198 meters or 248 meters from the tips will test the best of us. The landing area of this par 3 looks tiny from the long tees and the hole only really comes into view from the whites and reds. A stream protects the left side of the hole and a drop off on the right will not help you either. Another one of the hit the green or pay the price holes.
9 is a spectacular looking hole with a water carry from the tee, 225m from the tips, only 151 from the blues. drive over the bridge with a draw to best shoot uphill with your second to a green where being long will make you pay. Only the one bunker protects this green front right, but the putting surface will test you, so be happy with par if you can get it.
Over to the back nine and the 10th looks magnificent as it stretches uphill towards a large green at the end of a 431m, par 4. Take driver and give it plenty to get a better go at the green. It's a tough pin position right and long, but other than that, you should make par. Do not under any circumstances go over this green. The drop off will see your ball gone. Rated #2 toughest.
The 11th is a beautiful looking downhill par 3. Although the yardage says 215m from the tips, it plays more like 165 as it is really a long way down to this green. Be extremely careful driving this stretch of the cart paths because it's virtually straight up and down sometimes. You can bail out right here or short, but don't go left or long.
The 12th looks like there is plenty of room across the fairway, but the left side will take your ball quicker than a strip casino will take your money. Stay out to the right for the safest route to this 512m, par 5. The second shot is through a small neck between the cliffs and the lake, so a lay up is smart. Remember, pars at Wolf Creek are the smart way to navigate the course. Trying for birdies will sometimes cost you a double.
13 has a sharp turning right dogleg that will require you to be long and out to the left to best attack your second. The end of the fairway is about 245m so take a fairway wood and a wedge for your second and take the easy par. This course gives you very few.
The 14th is one of the most photographed holes on the course. The drive is from a high elevation tee to a left sloping fairway protected by bunkers all the left side. Take driver and aim over the second bunker if you can carry 240m downhill. Otherwise, aim out to the right and then hit in your second from about 130-145. Take enough club to get it up because short is not good.
15 is another one of those hit it or pay holes and although only 114m from the tips, it's all downhill and the ground will want to kick your ball straight left into a deep bunker. Hit this green! If you cannot, go long to stop the dreaded bunker. Playing partners took double here, so beware, the yardage does not mean easy. It never does around Wolf. Rated #18 easiest.
16 is one of those holes that half way along it, you say to yourself, "Oh, it's not that hard", but unfortunately, by then you are usually in a terrible position and praying for a bogey. The fairway off the tee looks to go right, but it does not. Right will see you either in a deep bunker, or off a cliff. Try to aim at the bunker on the left and hit a fade. From the tips, you will need a 274 m drive to even reach the fairway. From the blues 213 and from the whites, only 198. Your second will only be from about 130m, but it will be downhill, so take less club. Long here is far better than short.
The 17th was my favourite hole on the course. Not only was it tough to play, but it looks spectacular as well. From the tee you need to hit down the hill and keep it away from the left cliff face. Hitting the fade off this tee is really a must, so take out the driver and get cutting. There is a stream that runs through the fairway half way and continues all the way to a pond protecting the green at the front. You will need to hit it 250m plus off the tee to get at the green in 2 and will also have to be on the right side of the fairway. If you do go for the green, take plenty of club. Although water surrounds 3 sides of this green, left and long has the best runoff. It's an easy 3 shotter, but a long drive and a 200m second can reap it's rewards. Great hole!
That brings us to the 18th and by now you are either needing a par to get under 100, or if you have taken the advice in this review, are looking at the finish of one of the best rounds of golf in your life. Believe me when I say, you are not finished just yet. The 18th presents a tough finish because off the tee there looks to be many options. There isn't! Just hit the hybrid. Taking driver will see you go too far and into the water and even fairway wood will get you too close for comfort. Take the hybrid, hit the left side of the middle fairway and flip a wedge to the green for your easy birdie or par.
This is not a golf course that requires brute power. It is a placement course and if you try to force your will around it, you will lose. Lose golf balls, lose strokes and perhaps lose your mind. It is extremely unforgiving, so swallow your pride, play the percentages and walk off with some satisfaction.
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1. Tees 13/15
2. Fairways 15/15
3. Bunkers 15/15
4. Greens 15/15
5. Design 15/15
6. The 19th 14/15
7. Price 9/10
It is so hard to rate this golf course. I truely believe that it is the greatest piece of golfing pleasure that has ever been created. It is heaven for any golfer who wants to pit themselves against the best. It may not be the best golf course in the world, but it is the most spectacular. You can sit on any of the elevated tees and look out on the property and just be amazed at the jaw dropping magnificence of this golf course. As I said at the start, I cannot do this place justice by my words alone. This golf course must be played by any golfer before they die. It just has to! It also has to be respected. I know there will be some reading this that will be saying to themselves, "I can tear this place apart." You can't and you won't. What you will do, however, is have the best day on a golf course you could ever have, regardless of what you shoot. You will be a better golfer for the experience. As for what tees to play off, use this as your guide:
Handicap of 4 or less and can hit the ball 250+ with the driver - Tips
Handicap of 5-10 and 230+ with the driver - Blues
Handicap of 11-25 and 215+ with the driver - White
Handicap of 25+ and 200+ with the driver - Red
Ladies - Red or Yellow depending on handicap
Whatever you have to do, whatever you have to sell, whatever the cost, make the time and make the effort and go play this golf course. You will never regret it, it is without a doubt, the best golf course I have ever played. I cannot wait to get back and play it again. Hopefully, I will get my revenge.