Bali Hai Golf Club is named after the fictional island immortalised by Perry Como’s No.1 single, Some Enchanted Evening, taken from the musical, South Pacific. The golf course is located at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, a mere 10-minute taxi ride from the main strip hotels. Designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in 2000 all of the holes have been created with a verdant tropical theme. To that end, they planted a total of 4,000 trees with 2,500 stands of towering palms, 100,000 tropical plants and created seven acres of lush water features.
The par 71 Bali Hai measures 7,002 yards from the tips, but there are three other sets of tees measuring 6,601, 6,156 and 5,511 yards, so golfers of all abilities will find a tee that suits their game.
As you might expect with a course aimed at businessmen and vacationers whose main focus is gambling, the course starts you off gently with a relatively easy hole – where many golfers might make par – but don't be deceived and get overconfident, things subtly get tougher as the round unfolds.
Worthy of particular mention is the 16th a pretty par three where you have to play over water in full view of the restaurant. Additionally, beware of the last two par fours which could ruin your card. The 17th is a 484-yard dogleg (SI2) and the 18th is a 486 yard (SI 4) with the green well-defended by water.
Bali Hai is bounded by Mandalay Bay Hotel on one side, Las Vegas (McCarran) Airport on the other and a freeway and railway line complete the boundaries, but it's no worse for that. Bali Hai is a surprising oasis of tranquillity amidst the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas and the strip… assuming you can ignore the aeroplanes taking off and landing, especially when you're playing the 3rd.
Bali Hai Golf Club regularly features in American magazine lists of the best courses you can play, so we’re pleased to have it as one of our Gems. The club is owned by the Walters Golf Group who also own Royal Links, located just outside Vegas. Bali Hai has a large clubhouse, and pro-shop which is well versed to renting clubs to visiting gamblers who need to take a break from losing money to get their golfing fix!
There had been talk when the Raiders were planning the move to Vegas that the land occupied by Bali Hai could very well be the site for the new Allegiant Stadium. That did not happen because of the close proximity of the golf course to nearby McCarran Airport.
The amazing aspect of Bali Hai is how it crams so much golf into a small piece of acreage. There's no practice range and the best word I can describe the experience on property is snug.
Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt are quite adept in knowing the value of bunker placement / waste areas and having the wherewithal to avoid having holes fairly ordinary. Bali Hai does not have much in terms of overall terrain movement but what it does have is a good examination in terms of shotmaking challenges.
The preceding statement will be hard for those going there to swallow when teeing off at the pedestrian opening hole. Things slowly ramp up after you pass the mundane par-5 2nd. Once you get to the long par-4 3rd the quality of the routing and the hole diversity begins to ramp considerably.
The short par-4 4th is nicely done -- the protecting pond to the right of the green will keep the daring souls in check - especially when the prevailing wind is assisting players. The mid-length par-4 5th that follows is very good -- especially when encountering a headwind. The approach needs to be played with utmost precision as the green is literally perched just to the side of a pesky pond.
The trio of holes that finish the outward half are satisfactory.
The inward half is where Bali Hai does rise. The opening trio is quality combination of par-5, par-3 protected by water and a lengthy par-4. The long par-4 13th is especially daunting when dealing with a headwind.
The ending five holes are good. The long par-3 14th is counterbalanced with an island short par-3 at the 16th. The par-5 15th gives players an opportunity to help one's scorecard and the finishing two holes are a quality counterpoint of long par-4 holes. The 18th rounds out the day with a green engulfed with sand with a nearby water penalty area adding a bit of additional danger.
Classical golf architecture connoisseurs may not be enthused; however, Curley & Schmidt created an engaging mixture of holes that, save for the 1st, are anything but formulaic. It's so important to stress that when you have such a tight amount of land to work with the sum total of Bali Hai is smartly done.
Bali Hai will likely face possible extinction in the years ahead -- the close proximity to The Strip makes it prime real estate for other development options. Those wanting a golf connection and be in the heart of the action in Vegas will likely enjoy the best of both worlds. Just don't bet the ranch when going there!
M. James Ward
Excellent golf on the southern end of the Strip.
Bali Hai is an interesting course. Sandwiched between the Las Vegas strip and the airport you will not suffer sensory deprivation. The first thing you will notice is the amount of palm trees. They are everywhere and is consistent with the Polynesian Bali Hai theme. If you are in Vegas this is extraordinarily convenient. For those of you with good memories it hosted the 2nd Big Break.
The first hole is welcoming. A short par four with a monstrous landing area and a green with only one bunker. It is slightly uphill so take an extra club on your approach. Things get a wee bit tougher on the first par five. For big hitters it is reachable. It is much tighter with trees left and right and a fairway that slopes towards the middle. The green is well protected. The 3rd is a long par 4 that leans right with a creek that runs down that side. Best to favor left of center off the tee. Same with the green, slopes left to right. The 4th thru 6th are good birdie oppties. The 4th is a short par four that leans right with a fairway bunker on the outside elbow. There is a small water hazard protecting the green on the right side and the approach is uphill. On the fifth favor the left off the tee as there is a large fairway bunker right and this green is also protected by a water hazard on the right side. The 6th is a short Florida par 3. Just about all carry over water with bunkers left of the green. The par 4 7th can be reached by long hitters going down the left side. For the rest of us play it as a 3 shotter and have your approach coming in from the left as the greenside bunker right is nefarious. The 8th is the number one handicap hole, along par 4 with Mandalay Bay Casino in the background. Fairway bunker left and a large bunker complex short right of the green. The 9th a par three with a water carry and down the left side.
The back starts with a couple of good birdie oppties. The 10th is the shortest par five. The green is well protected bunkers short left back and a BAB front right. The 11th is rated the easiest hole on the course. There is a water hazard left. The 12th is a long par four. Off the tee aim at the peak of the pyramid. The 13th is also a long par 4. The hole leans right and the green is elevated. The 14th can be a challenge, a 250 yard par 3. I am not embarrassed to say I hit driver and was well short. The 15th is a dogleg left. The green is protected by bunkers short right and left. The island green 16th is probably the signature hole. It is a short par 3, don’t be nervous about the diners watching you chunk your tee shot from the restaurant behind the green. The finishing holes are two of the toughest that I have ever played, both over 480 yards from the tips. The 17th bends a wee bit right and there is a fairway bunker right. The 18th bends left. The green is protected by a horseshoe bunker from the right and a water hazard on the right side. While I hit driver 5 wood to come up short in the water, the Big Break golfers were hitting driver 8 iron!
Fun course in an interesting location
Nice and convenient from the Strip.Very welcoming and impressive. Good warm up "net". Hundreds of palm trees and a lot of sand waste. Some good water holes.
I booked this as the "strip experience" round before heading further afield but was very impressed with the course, taking nearly as many photos as shots !
Of some good holes, for me probably the signature par 3 16th island green by the clubhouse stood out and 18 is a good hole as well.
Shot some pars and lost some balls but the score is forgotten. The surroundings of the airport, helipad, freeway, Mandalay Bay, the new Raiders stadium, the water and sand hazards, palm trees, a gorilla (!) and the distant mountains will remain a great memory.
WELL WORTH A VISIT
If you are in Vegas and have a craving to get out and play some golf, but: a) have a relatively limited budget so the ‘premier courses’ are out of the question; and b) cannot be bothered to travel to far to play? If so, then Bali Hai Golf Club is your destination.
Bali Hai is located a mile away from the centre of the Las Vegas Strip, and compared to most of the courses around is very reasonable at just over $100 for the round if you’re prepared to be an early bird or a twilight golfer. Even at that price point, you are getting an excellent golf course and, as usual in the US, a great customer service experience from beginning to end.
The course is ‘South Pacific inspired’ and you cannot help but notice this from the hundreds of palm trees, bleached sand, and water obstacles that face you on 10 of the 18 holes. When you are playing the course, you do almost feel transported to the Pacific, that is until you hit the 7th hole tee box, and in for the foreground you see the Luxor and Mandalay Bay hotels (see picture above). It is quite spectacular at first sight.
In my opinion, the course is well designed – offering a real challenge to golfers of all abilities. Like most courses in Vegas, the greens are lightning fast and if there is only one piece of advice I would give to a travelling golfer, that is make sure you get at least 15 minutes in on the practice green to get acclimatised. Not only was the speed challenging but the undulations and multiple tiers you had on most holes placed a premium on good putting. Water is obviously a key theme throughout the course but it is not ‘overly daunting’ – ultimately only a poor shot or a poor choice will be punished here. The fairways were pretty generous and ran true, and the bunkers, whilst prolific on certain holes, were strategically well-placed but not impossible to navigate around (or out of!).
The par 4s are mixed between some very tough long par 4s with very well placed bunkers for both tee shots and approach shots, to some shorter risk/reward par 4s (normally the risk being in the form of water). All of the par 5s have an element of doglegs in them, and on a couple of occasion double breaking dog legs, and realistically only for the very long hitters are reachable in 2. However, like the Cascata course I played the day before, the real gems on this course are the par 3s. All 4 of the par 3s have water as a very real risk with the signature holes being the 9th and 16th where both have the greens right in front of the clubhouse itself. With the way the course is set up though, the wind plays a very real risk too and will blow in very different directions on each of these holes. On the day I played it was blowing hard – about 25mph – and it meant that the 144 yard par 3 7th was playing at least 2 clubs more in length and the wind was pushing the ball towards the lake … needless to say both me and my playing partner bailed into the bunkers to be safe!
All in all, Bali Hai was a real pleasure to play.
Ah Bali Hai – Some Enchanted Evening… one of my all-time favourite love songs! Was fortunate enough to play here after deciding to sneak off for a quick game while on business at CA World, which was hosted at the adjacent Mandalay Bay Hotel. It was a wise choice, the keynote speaker that morning was apparently rubbish and my game was not much better. However, I enjoyed my round at Bali Hai and my only after-round wish was that I should have brought my putting boots. I must have three-stabbed eight holes and found the rather tricky and large greens tough to master. It always takes me a while to get used to playing golf in the US, as the turf tends to be light and fluffy, so you need to strike the ball crisply off the surface otherwise a fat shot will ensue. Had a couple of fatties when attempting to carry the numerous water hazards and lost a couple of balls… much to the amusement of my single-figure playing partners. I would definitely recommend Bali Hai to anyone who wants to play an engaging round on a nicely manicured, tropically themed course. It beats those boring conferences any day!