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Arizona Destinations

Casper’s Top Five Courses

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Hiddenbrooke Golf Club
Hiddenbrooke Golf Club

Pop Quiz: Who has won the most points in U.S. Ryder Cup history? No—not Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer, though they are near the top. Certainly not Phil or Tiger; their era coincides with the European dominance of recent decades, and these two leading money-winners in PGA Tour history actually have mediocre records in the biennial competition. (True Fact: Tiger and Phil have more losses than any other American players in the entire history of the Ryder Cup. Tiger with seventeen, Phil nipping at his heels with sixteen!)

The surprising answer is Billy Casper, who played in eight Ryder Cups, competed in thirty seven matches, and captured 23 ½ total points. In honor of “The Buffalo,” (the rather obscure nickname for this always-underrated player, who won three Majors and more than fifty PGA Tour events while always laboring in the shadow of Nicklaus, Palmer and Player) we present a quintet of the finest courses nationwide managed by Billy Casper Golf. (In keeping with the below-the-radar theme, most readers wouldn’t even know the company exists, despite its status as one of the largest golf-management company in the nation!)

Wintonbury Hills Golf Course
Wintonbury Hills Golf Course

It’s been rumored that World Golf Hall of Fame member Pete Dye, one of the finest course architects of the last century, designed Wintonbury Hills for a dollar. It was Dye’s way of giving back to the game he loves, and producing a high-quality municipal course in an area that was lacking. The only design he’s ever produced in the six New England states, this Bloomfield (outside of Hartford) Connecticut gem is perennially ranked among the finest municipal courses in the nation. Plenty of permitting hurdles had to be jumped, as the course wends its way through more than eighty acres of woods and wetlands. The end result is a walkable, old-school experience, with a nice balance of holes that are open and tree-lined. There are some nice water views sprinkled throughout, including the nearby Tunxis Reservoir.

Purgatory Golf Club
Purgatory Golf Club

Purgatory Golf Club is an unusual moniker for a course that has actually been blessed by a priest! Located in Noblesville, Indiana, less than an hour from Indianapolis, this is a family-owned business and one of the more popular daily-fee courses in the area surrounding the capital city. Designed by local architect Ron Kern, Purgatory can play as one of the longest (7,754 yards) courses in Indiana and features more than 125 bunkers and acres of tall native grasses. Spread across more than two hundred acres of memorable terrain, the signature hole is a mid-length, par-3 dubbed “Hell’s Half Acre” that features a green guarded by two acres of bunkers. Purgatory has been ranked amidst Golf Digest Magazine’s “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses.”

Hiddenbrooke Golf Club
Hiddenbrooke Golf Club

Hiddenbrooke Golf Club is located in Vallejo, California, some forty minutes north of San Francisco. Designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay about twenty years ago, Hiddenbrooke is considered by many to be one of California’s most entertaining public layouts. It ranked Top Ten in Golf World’s “Readers’ Choice Awards,” in large part because it treats and challenges golfers with undulating fairways, plenty of elevation change and difficult par-3 holes set against a backdrop of hills and native vegetation. Though it has but a fraction of the name recognition of its counterparts on the Monterey Peninsula, the only pair of public-access courses that are consistently ranked higher than Hiddenbrooke in a state with more than 1,100 courses are Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. That’s the level of quality that this underrated facility offers a grateful public.

Magnolia Green Golf Club
Magnolia Green Golf Club

Moseley, Virginia, located west of Richmond, is the site of Magnolia Green Golf Club, the centerpiece of a resort-style, planned community of 3,000 homes. Named among Golf Digest’s “Top 10 Best New Courses for 2015,” this is a Jack Nicklaus Design in association with Tom Clark. This area of central Virginia features abundant wildlife, and golfers share space with a good representation from the animal kingdom. Streams have been fully-restored and lined with native shrubs and grasses to create the natural and environmentally sound course. Bermuda-grass fairways offer generous driving corridors, though the round’s conclusion is stirring. The finale is a mid-length par-4 with a demanding tee shot and nerve-tingling downhill approach to a heavily protected green.

Whisper Creek Golf Club
Whisper Creek Golf Club

One of the most prestigious private clubs in the nation is Whisper Rock, in Scottsdale, Arizona. But the traveling golfer would be well-served visiting the similarly-named Whisper Creek, in Huntley, Illinois, some thirty-five miles west of Chicago. Designed by Billy Casper himself, in consultation with Greg H. Nash, Whisper Creek Golf Club opened in 2000. Measuring 7,103 yards from the back tees, the course features bent grass fairways and greens, wispy fescue grass, protected wetland environments, notable rock formations and cascading waterfalls. It’s one of the most picturesque layouts you can play in the Chicagoland area. Added bonus: They offer GolfBoards for rent, which is a surfboard-meets-scooter mechanism to tool around the grounds. Less taxing than walking, more exciting than a golf cart, a GolfBoard is meant to appeal to Millennial golfers, or anyone else wanting to inject a bit more excitement into their amble-through-the-meadow.

Playing a Different Troon

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The Open Championship returned to Royal Troon for the ninth time in 2016. It’s a magical, historical venue, with the tiny ‘Postage Stamp’ par-3 likely it’s most famous hole. Great as the course is, like every course in the Open Rota, it’s not easily accessible to busy American golfers. Luckily Troon Management, speaking of Troon, operates some of the finest public-access courses in the U.S. Here’s a brief look at several, most all of them 36-hole facilities, in varying corners of the nation:


One still has to fly across the ocean to get Kapalua, on the Hawaiian island of Maui. However, the biggest difference is that lovely weather is a virtual certainty; a guarantee that can never be made in the raw, windy and often rainy weather one encounters in the U.K. Located on Maui’s northwest shore, Kapalua stretches 22,000 acres, from mountain peaks to the edge of the glistening Pacific Ocean. The 7,100 yard Plantation Course is the marquee venue, familiar to TV viewers as the host of the PGA Tour Hyundai Tournament of Champions each January, featuring an elite field of the previous year’s tournament winners. Designed by two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw and partner Bill Coore, the grand scale of the course unfurls across natural geographic formations and pineapple plantation fields. The Bay Course, designed by Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane, represents the first of Kapalua’s two championship golf courses. Measuring 6,600 yards long, the layout is an excellent example of resort golf at its best with gently rolling fairways and generous greens.

Troon North
Troon North

Another fabulous one-two punch is found in Scottsdale, Arizona. Troon North features the Monument and Pinnacle courses, the former dating from 1989, the latter 1995. Giant granite boulders lie strewn across the rugged landscape of the High Sonoran Desert. The courses, artfully designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, cleverly wrap around the northern slopes of landmark Pinnacle Peak. In golf-rich Scottsdale, these dueling beauties are very near the top of the pecking order, on either the public or the private side of the ledger.

Giants Ridge
Giants Ridge

Biwabik, Minnesota is well off the beaten path, some 200 miles due north of Minneapolis. However Giants Ridge is well worth the three hour drive from “The Cities,” offering a pair of courses designed by Jeffrey Brauer in consultation with former PGA Champion Lanny Wadkins. The Quarry and The Legend are two of the most exceptional golf venues in the Midwest, and in tandem, make for a great weekend getaway. Pristine bent grass fairways, massive lakes, giant boulders and towering trees are all earmarks of The Legend. The Quarry, the younger sibling (opened in 2004) offers dramatic raised tees and deep hazards. The architects routed the playing fields through and around former mine lands, wetlands, forests and a sand quarry to make The Quarry a one-of-a-kind course design. It’s no surprise that Golf Digest named Giants Ridge as the best public-access facility in Minnesota.


The leafy woodlands of eastern Connecticut are the improbable home of one of the nation’s busiest casinos. Foxwoods Resort, within driving distance of multiple millions in the northeast corridor, has much to offer, not the least of which are a pair of Rees Jones-designed beauties at Lake of Isles. The ninety-acre lake provides much of the stunning background, and the rolling terrain, island greens and tees and sublime views have made these courses among the most popular in the entire state. Both the North and South courses opened simultaneously in the spring of 2005, and have been doing brisk business in the ensuing decade-plus. The North Course always welcomes visitors, while the South can be accessed as the guest of a member, or sometime with a letter of introduction from one’s home club professional. Despite the rolling nature of the terrain and the elevation changes, architect Jones insured that the fairways are mostly flat, without the confounding side-hill and downhill lies one often encounters on New England courses with greater antiquity.

Old Works
Old Works

Finally, a ‘one-off’ (IE—18 hole facility) that deserves mention on its own standalone merit. The Old Works golf course in Anaconda, Montana, in the southwest area of the state, is a 1997 design by Jack Nicklaus. This is the first-ever golf course developed on a Federal EPA Superfund Site, which in layman’s terms means something appalling has morphed into something wonderful. Generous fairways, native grass borders and expansive greens make it one of the most spacious and unique golf courses in the region. There are exceptional views of the Anaconda Pintler Mountains throughout the property. What makes the facility even more memorable is the fact that the architect cleverly incorporated many significant mining relics to help reflect the region’s colorful mining history.

Summer Golf Camps for Kids


On a recent trip to Morocco, I was introduced to a grow-the-game initiative that the program’s mentors referred to as “Birdies.” Formally known as Birdies de Mogador, it’s made up of 70 kids, carefully screened as potential leadership in the country’s budding golf industry. For eight hours a week, these kids are being taught to not only play the game, but also manage the game, which includes language lessons and classes on the business of golf.

To #GrowTheGame in the United States has become a popular hashtag. And with the microscope literally and figuratively revealing the dangers of tackle football, combined with successful programs such as First Tee, Youth on Course, Drive, Chip and Putt and other evolving trends, such as TopGolf and short courses, the game’s forecast seems to be improving for decades and future generations.

And as the cloud cover lifts, it brings us to summer golf camps for kids. Where do they fit in? What are your options? And what should you, as a parent or guardian, look for?

Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy
Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy

“It starts with understanding your child,” says Kate Tempesta, founder and co-owner of Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy in New York. “I hear people say, ‘Make it fun.’ But what’s ‘fun’ is different for each age. What might be fun for an 8-year-old might not be fun for a 5-year-old.”

Tempesta started a junior camp at Montauk Downs on the eastern tip of Long Island five years ago, which ran for one week. Last year it was up to nine weeks. And this summer it will be 11 weeks. Between camps in Montauk and various locations throughout New York, Tempesta estimates her and her staff will see 1,000 kids this summer.

“I’m thrilled with the evolution of the program. Our mission statement is to empower the children and let them discover the game at their own pace.”

Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy
Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy

Urban Golf Academy works with kids, ages 4 and up. Weekly summer camps run from 9—2pm, which includes golf, and/or tennis and swimming and prices range from $145 to $180 per kid, per day, depending on when you sign up.

“We aim for joy first, then we might get technical. Which isn’t to say we can’t get to the competitive side of the golf, it’s just not our point of entry.”

Tempesta also offers “Evening Eagles,” which is two days a week, 5—8pm, and it’s $300 per child.

Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy
Kate Tempesta’s Urban Golf Academy

“In the end, do we want better golfers or better human beings? The answer is human beings, and golf is a great vehicle to get that done. That’s just me and that’s the way I teach.”

For more on Urban Golf Academy: www.ktuga.com




After speaking to Tempesta, I also solicited feedback on junior golf camps from my Twitter followers. Some notable names and brands chimed in:

David Leadbetter ‏‪@DavidLeadbetter
I heard @LGAOrlando has great junior camps.

Students ages 12-18 will be immersed in a week-long program based on Leadbetter’s famed “Holistic Approach” to golf instruction, utilizing 30+ years experience coaching juniors around the world. Leadbetter’s Holistic Approach to the golf swing has helped countless tour professionals and aspiring junior golfers reach the pinnacle of the sport, including 21 Major winners and 7 World No. 1s.” ($2,950 per student.) For more: http://davidleadbetter.com/summercamps/


Arron Oberholser ‏‪@ArronOberholser
Stanford’s camp is incredible. Been going on for years. I coached at it when I was in college.

Stanford offers half day and full day golf camps, with a focus on “introducing the game to juniors between the ages of 5 and 12 with either no experience or a couple years of instruction.”

They also offer “Traditional Camp” which is designed to cater to junior golfers (ages 8—18) from beginner to advanced. Instructors include the Stanford coaching staff and other DI/DII coaches and players. ($650—$1,800) For more, go to: stanfordgolf.activesb.net/2016_Summer_Camps.htm


@Pinehurst Resort We humbly nominate the Pinehurst Golf Academy Junior & Parent/Child Schools.

‪@thejcruz89 When he was 13, my son loved every second of the Pinehurst Golf Camp. Best $1,600 for a week you can spend.

Pinehurst junior golf school runs through July, and includes golfers ages 11 to 17. It’s six days and nights and prices range from $1,769 to $1,869. For more: www.pinehurst.com/golf/pinehurst-golf-academy/our-schools/junior-school/


Michael Hankinson ‏‪@MPHankinson
Hi Matt! The @NTPGAJuniorTour has some of the best camps in Texas and include a starter set of clubs! For my son- it started.

For more: www.ntpgajuniorgolf.com


Chad Anderson ‏‪@KnoxAreaGolf
@Tennesseepga Jr Golf Academy – great value! Overnight camp for a week, dorm rooms, catering, par 3 course, instruction.

For more: golfhousetennessee.uschedule.com/TPGAJuniorAcademy/AbouttheAcademy.aspx


Francis O’Hara ‏‪@FOSDGLF
Can’t go wrong with @TheFirstTee

For more: www.thefirsttee.org/club/scripts/section/section.asp?NS=FL


Rollins Golf ‏‪@RollinsGolf
@PineNeedlesGolf Has a great camp. @PeggyKirkBell is in attendance!

For more: www.pineneedles-midpines.com/youth-golfari/


Inge Beeker ‏‪@ingewood
Check out @OldWaverlyGC for world class instruction from @VTROLIO and @timyelverton.  They have junior cottage setup for camp.

For more: www.hailstate.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=205389018


Troon @Troon
We like the Summer Jr Camps at ‪@TroonNorthGC. ‪#GrowTheGame

For more: www.troonnorthgolf.com/tnjrcamp.html


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According to the latest power rankings, fall golf and football knows no rival. But what’s the best NFL city for public golf?

In order to answer the question, we must first be clear on a few particulars.

There are several teams with broad-based geographical references, and for the purpose of this exercise, need definition.

  • New England Patriots = Boston
  • New York Jets and Giants = Manhattan
  • San Francisco = San Francisco, not Santa Clara, which is the address of Levi’s Stadium
  • Carolina Panthers = Charlotte, NC
  • Phoenix = Phoenix and Scottsdale

It should also be noted, that in order to establish this ranking, I considered all public courses within a one-hour drive of the city center, or, in some cases, major airports. A mix of prestige—rich history and/or frequent host of major events—as well as perceived value for locals, were key ingredients to my criteria.

With that being said, I grant 49ers’ fans (guilty!) a small slice of salvation in yet another season of mediocrity.


No. 1: San Francisco

It’s not a stretch to include Pasatiempo, an Alister Mackenzie design, to the roster that is public golf in and around San Francisco. Built by the same guy who gave us Augusta National, Cypress Point, Crystal Downs and Royal Melbourne, Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz is only a few minutes more than an hour from the San Francisco airport. Add TPC Harding Park, both courses at Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Presidio and the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the 17th tee at Lincoln Park, and you have quite an itinerary.


TPC Scottsdale
TPC Scottsdale

No. 2: Arizona

Admittedly, the Phoenix and Scottsdale area was No. 1 on my list until I granted San Francisco an extension of measuring distance to Pasatiempo from the airport. Having grown up an hour north of San Francisco might have also factored into my ultimate analysis. Regardless, with courses such as TPC Scottsdale, both at We-Ko-Pa, both at Talking Stick, both at Troon North, Quintero and the saddle fairways of Westin Kierland, the NFC West is dominating this list for a reason.

Whistling Straits
Whistling Straits

No. 3: Green Bay

Like Pasatiempo to San Francisco, with drive time a little over an hour, I’m giving Green Bay all four courses at Destination Kohler, which incudes Whistling Straits, Irish and both at Blackwolf Run. Add the Bull at Pinehurst farms, Wander Springs, Mid-Vallee (Blue) and Brown County (muni), and it’s hard to think there are two better NFL cities for golf. Especially given the additional roll on anything deemed “frozen tundra.”


Bethpage Black

No. 4: New York

I had Tampa Bay fifth on this list, but in the end, I think the combination of Bethpage Black and Red is better than Streamsong Red and Blue. But it’s close. To the New York itinerary, I’m adding Ferry Point, Harbor Links and Ballyowen, which is in New Jersey. I’d also add Patriot Hills and the gritty charms of Dyker Beach, Van Cortland Park, Clearview and Pelham Bay/Split Rock.


Chambers Bay
Chambers Bay

No. 5: Seattle

It still bothers me, the way the USGA presented Chambers Bay to the masses. I had toured the course two weeks before the U.S. Open and conditions were impeccable. And not only is Chambers Bay a compelling narrative—gravel pit to major championship—it’s an impressive anchor to public golf in and around Seattle. The value golf at Gold Mountain is some of the best in the country. Home course, Washington National and Druids Glen are also formidable forces in what has quietly become a strong consideration for future buddies trips.


By way of Twitter (@mattginellagc) and Instagram (@matt_ginella), I also solicited your feedback.

@josephnikolai: “San Diego with Torrey, Balboa, Maderas, Arrowhead, Coronado, Barona, Goat Hill, Temecula Creek Inn—all public.”

M. Ginella: San Diego would be in my Top 10 on this list.

@along3593: “Green Bay to Whistling Straits is about an hour. Amazing NFL area and a heavenly golf course.

@almostheavengolf: “Charlotte with Tobacco Road and all the Pinehurst courses nearby.”

M. Ginella: Charlotte to Pinehurst is over two hours, but I agree, Carolina is a contender.

@troysenanigans: “Co-sign Seattle. Chambers, Gold Mt, Semiahmoo, Home Course, WA National, Allenmore (classic), Trophy Lake and Avalon.”

@hoepf24: “Phoenix/Scottsdale…a golfer’s paradise and fantastic weather year round.”

@marcbabyar: “San Fran, San Diego, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Arizona…my opinion.”

@parrotheadgolfer74: “Tampa is solid with Orlando area courses just up the road and Streamsong close by too.”

@jtarble: “I’ll throw out Indianapolis. The Colts may suck right now, but we have the Fort, Brickyard, Trophy Club, Prairie View and several other great options.”

Top 9 Golf Courses Near Large U.S. Airports

Business travelers often have several hours to kill before boarding a flight back home, whether a meeting ends early or flight is canceled last minute. Why rush to the airport early to sit around? Enjoy your time on the road in a different city and squeeze in a round of golf. If you play your cards right, you may just be able to write off the round as a business expense!

We’ve complied some of the countries busiest airports with top-notch golf facilities less than 12 miles away from the departure gate. Here’s where you can golf and then catch your flight with ease:

Miami International Airport – Miami, FL
Trump National Doral (4 courses) – 8.9 miles from airport
Trump National Doral - The Blue Monster
Trump National Doral – The Blue Monster

Trump National Doral – The Blue Monstor
Renowned for its rich history, the famous Blue Monster at Trump National Doral is tougher, longer and more dramatic than ever before. In mid-2014, Doral’s owner Donald Trump hired golf course architect Gil Hanse to meticulously re-sculpt every hole. The renovation proudly restored the course to its past grandeur.

Trump National Doral – The Red Tiger
The spectacular Red Tiger golf course, given its name by the late Jackie Gleason, underwent one of the most dramatic changes of any of the course renovations at Trump National Doral. Due to the talents of the Gil Hanse design team, the Red is an exciting challenge for the average golfer and also a surprising test for the more experienced player.

Trump National Doral – The Silver Fox
Donald J. Trump’s commitment to make epic changes at Trump National Doral is complete with the Silver Fox, the last of the incredible golf course renovations. The sensational Silver Fox course is one of the most demanding golf tests in the country. Water comes into play on 16 of 18 holes, and its striking, marble-white sand bunkers only reward well struck drives and approaches.

Trump National Doral – The Golden Palm
The new Golden Palm, named after the tree found throughout the golf course, offers another unique and challenging golf experience at Trump National Doral. Gil Hanse’s team resurrected this newly opened course with similar design elements as the famous Blue Monster.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Atlanta, GA
Wolf Creek Golf Club (10.5 miles from airport)

Wolf Creek has earned a reputation as one of the toughest golf tracks in the Atlanta area since 2001. Located 10 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, you will find unparalleled beauty, wildlife and excellent course conditions in a convenient location. Created by Mike Young Designs, the course incorporates low flatland holes, wetland areas and holes with dramatic vistas.

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – Dallas, TX
Cowboys Golf Club
Cowboys Golf Club

Cowboys Golf Club – 6.6 miles from airport
Cowboys Golf Club is the premier resort-style, daily-fee golf course in Texas. As the world’s first NFL-themed golf course, it is the ultimate destination for business entertainment, executive meetings and special events. An innovative golf and entertainment experience awaits you at Cowboys Golf Club.

Bear Creek Golf Club – 3.8 miles from airport
Bear Creek Golf Club is an award-winning course designed by Ted Robinson. Named among the “Top 50 Resort Courses in America” by Golf Digest and one of the “10 Great Places to Golf” by The Wall Street Journal, it is a great place to get in a round. Its two distinct layouts, the West and East Courses, lend themselves to challenge, allure and shot values. Bear Creek has hosted PGA Tour Qualifiers, the Texas State Open, the AJGA National Tournament, the PGA National Golf Series and NTPGA Sectional Tournaments.

Houston IAH
Golf Club of Houston, The Tournament Course – 10 miles from airport
Golf Club of Houston, The Tournament Course
Golf Club of Houston, The Tournament Course

The Tournament Course hosts the Shell Houston Open every year where the world’s top players vie for excellence. The course has abundant native plants and wildlife, making it an enjoyable and beautiful place to play. It’s a great course for serenity and solidity just a few minutes from downtown Houston.




Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Arizona State’s Karsten Course – 5.9 miles from airport
ASU Karsten Golf Course
ASU Karsten Golf Course

Home to one of the strongest collegiate golf programs in the country, the ASU Karsten Golf Course is a classic Pete Dye, links-style course set in the shadows of ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium. Awarded 4 1/2 stars by the prestigious Golf Digest Rating Panel, this well maintained and challenging design features Dye’s signature mounding and creative bunkering – making proper club selection essential for low scoring.


El Paso International Airport – El Paso, TX
Butterfield Trail Golf Club – 7.0 miles from airport
Butterfield Trail Golf Club
Butterfield Trail Golf Club

Natural sand dunes and native flora and fauna highlight this par-72 public golf course. Butterfield Trail Golf Club features over 55 feet of elevation changes and avails itself to drama and relief with vertical transitions. Here, every hole is a “signature hole.” Offering Dominant Plus Bent grass greens, Butterfield Trail provides an unmatched golfing experience. Located just a long iron shot away from the El Paso International Airport, Butterfield Trail is an easy choice to take a golf getaway without having to venture too far off the beaten path.


Chicago O’Hare International Airport – Chicago, IL
White Pines Golf Club & Banquets – 7.5 miles from airport

White Pines Golf Club, a 36-hole championship course (East & West courses) situated on over 240 acres, has been a favorite among Chicago area golfers since 1928. White Pines is an excellent choice for players of all levels and those looking for a challenging game of golf any time of the year.

McCarran International Airport – Las Vegas, Nevada
Bali Hai Golf Club – 5.0 miles from airport
Bali Hai Golf Club
Bali Hai Golf Club

Designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in 2000, the Bali Hai Golf Club is a worthy namesake of the famous Indonesian land of enchantment. The lush surroundings include seven-acres of opulent water features, 4,000 trees and 100,000 Balinese tropical plants. Transition and out-of-play areas are accented with Augusta white sand and black volcanic rock outcroppings. The par-71 course measures 7,002 yards from the tips and affords spectacular views of the Strip mega-resorts from the fairways.