The government of Boulder Creek, a municipality southeast of Las Vegas, knew that they could collect some of the strip’s golfing audience if they could replicate the flash-and-dazzle of other local public-access options in their own corner of Sin City. Thus they hired Mark Rathert to create 27 holes of eye-catching municipal golf, with the “Desert Hawk” and “Coyote Run” nines making up the championship layout.
The first bit of Las Vegas flair is simple: a palm tree in the middle of the fairway on the opening par four of the “Desert Hawk” nine. The round quickly takes a more adrenaline-fueled, and strategic, approach on the second hole, a channel-style par five where players can consider going for the green by first playing to an alternate fairway left, and then making a lengthy desert carry during their approach shot.
Two more holes will offer big rewards for those who dare to go big off of the tee, including No. 4 (with its long desert carry) and the closing hole, which dares you to carry a lake and artificial creek in order to cut this long par four short. The casino gambling may not be as popular away from the strip, but taking gambles on the golf course is every bit as hot.
There's little question that if you're seeking an exceptional golf experience and don't want to spend much cash to do so -- then a visit to Boulder Creek should certainly be explored. So much of the golf in the Vegas area is overhyped and no doubt way overpriced.
Boulder Creek is a municipally-owned 27-hole layout and it amazes me how so few people -- even those who play in the Vegas area frequently fail to mention it.
Opened in January of 2003 and designed by Mark Rathert the two best nines are Desert Hawk and Coyote Run.
Rathert excels in adding an array of strategic choices for many of the holes. There's plenty for golfers to ponder on so many of the holes. In a number of instances you can take the safest route or opt to take on more of an aggressive posture. The key rests on execution. How many courses do you know feature no less than three split fairway holes? And the separation in each case has serious merit and is not just an architectural flourish.
One of the most important elements to keep in mind is how windy the layout can play. Vegas is among the windiest cities in America and for those who decide to play in the afternoon you best make sure you have one-foot spikes at the bottom of your golf shoes because to say things are "breezy" would be a gross understatement.
The routing is well done -- always changing and constantly forcing adjustments for the player. The key is smartly deciding what tee boxes to play. From the tips the Desert Hawk and Coyote Run nines total 7,648 with a 76.7 CR and 148 slope. That's no misprint! There are several forward tee areas and choosing the appropriate one is an absolute must.
The lone weak spot is not having a stellar short par-4 in the range of 350 or less yards. The collective nature of the par-3 holes is good, however, I would have liked to seen more versatility.
Having a bit of movement in the fairways would also have helped matters but Rathert was wise enough not to doctor the proceedings with the inclusion of hideous mounding and other contrivances to muddy up the presentation. Turf quality is an issue needing a bit of attention but it's far from being suspect.
Overall, Desert Hawk and Coyote Run provide a serious test with a design that clearly gets your attention the moment you arrive at the 1st tee and keeps you focused right through the final putt. Plenty of Vegas layouts accentuate the bells and whistles approach. In sum - they are more about "the look" and have little serious depth. Both Desert Hawk and Coyote Run feature a core design that mandates a healthy combination of mental and physical prowess. Those heading to Vegas had best include Boulder Creek on one's itinerary.
M. James Ward