Cascata is an Italian word for waterfall so it will come as no surprise that the predominant feature of the Cascata course is a high cascading waterfall.
Designed by Rees Jones and opening for play in 2000, Cascata is an unforgettable Las Vegas golfing experience. Located a mere 30 minutes from the Strip in a spectacular landscape under the shadow of the Red Mountain, Cascata is an extravagant and luxurious experience which can be savoured by simply phoning ahead and making a reservation. If your budget will stretch to it then you are in for an absolute treat.
A former golf property of the American gaming corporation Caesars, Cascata is now owned and operated by VICI Properties Inc.
Not my typical course to review, but I was lucky enough to be in Las Vegas on business in Feb 22.
My extremely generous hosts for the day had wisely picked Cascata from Top100 as the highest ranked public access course.
Arriving uphill by car at the course builds the expectation – when you look back the view across the desert seems endless.
Beautiful clear day, and no worse than a 2 club wind.
I had shoes and was equipped by the friendly team with a very nice set of rental Callaways and more (just about enough !) balls - good to go!
Firstly, the facilities – great team, very chilled, nice menu on the terrace, uphill driving range, it’s going to get harder from here so enjoy !
Every group gets a forecaddie at minimum, and ours was fantastic.
My only previous forecaddie was at Renaissance (review by link) and I’m now convinced that this is the best way for a group of friends to play an unplayed premium course.
There’s no sense of ownership or advantage, and everyone knows that their drive is looked for and what they are supposed to do on each tee or green, even if they fail to do so !
Note - this is a buggy only course in the desert – apparently just to travel the 8 and a bit mile cart path without taking a shot would take 1.5 hours, so just accept you’re not walking and enjoy your day.
When we played buggies were allowed everywhere, so none of that 90 degree nonsense. Again, all mistakes in clubbing are your own.
The greens were pretty receptive and very true but not too quick - my playing partners had some Stimp PTSD from the day before, but this was fun where a putt ran true if you hit it but you weren’t terrified of the one coming back.
As to the course, the eponymous Cascata apparently take an hour and a half to appear down on the course after the pumps go on in the morning - this is golf that Old Tom Morris couldn’t spirit into existence with “mair sand”.
So despite the fantastic condition and experience, one can’t give a maximum review since the design is up and down ravines which in retrospect are a little samey without the movement of the land from walking the property.
And to the game – everyone had some good holes and LOVED the day, but I stabbed a shortish putt on 15th (pretty sure the only bad green of the day) to put myself and my host out of the match.
It’s churlish to mention the outlandish handicaps whereby I was giving Dustin Johnson v2 shots, but at this remove even that cannot tarnish the memory of a great day.
Invest in the experience - give yourself the day at Cascata and you will have one of your most memorable days of golf.
As our forecaddie said “Easily the best course in Vegas, not a gimmick like Wolf Creek” =)
Enjoyed reading your review but a few comments come to mind. I am very familiar with golf throughout the Vegas area and those locations outside of it such as nearby Mesquite.
Cascata prides itself on the stellar service provided -- all of the elements you mentioned are outreach efforts carried out on a day-to-day basis. Your review is centered on the "experience" received -- the architecture gets very little detail - although you are spot on that the design is limited to following a predictable up and down pattern. There is no sophisticated routing and the holes -- while magnified because of the top tier conditioning -- simply blend in with one another, Rees Jones is a talented architect, but I would be hard pressed to have Cascata among the top ten I have played from his efforts.
No question the views extending to Searchlight are truly mesmerizing and you were quite fortunate the wind velocity was no more than 2 club wind.when you plated.
Since you only have one review posted via USA courses played and that lone one is Cascata -- I can say that the Vegas area does have a few courses of note -- and even though the forecaddie derided Wolf Creek -- I can say that the layout in Mesquite is a rollicking adventure albeit on the "edgy" side of architecture but worth playing to see firsthand.
Cascata is customer service golf to the max. How can one surpass having a man-made creek that passes through the clubhouse area when one is having food and drink?
I view the "experience" dimension as a completely separate item of emphasis. Your 5.5 score is simply heavily weighted towards the experience with little to no detail on how the architecture side of things dovetail together. For me, I could care less if a facility had no more than a tent for a clubhouse or offered nothing more than candy bars and soft drinks. If the architecture is at the tour de force level then such a visit is indeed memorable. I don't know if you had additional time to play any other courses throughout Clark County when you were there but there are other quality designs that do provide what I have mentioned and can do likewise on the non-course experience side of things.
I just can't see any layout getting a 5.5 or better when the architecture is nothing more than a footnote to the time spent there. You are clearly entitled to the feelings you experienced --- no pun intended -- but I wonder when you have critiqued courses in the UK do you discount the architecture side as noticeably as you did with Cascata and simply focus on the non-architecture elements or was it just the personal rapture you enjoyed from being treated at the super VIP level when playing there?
T h a n k s ,
Cascata GC is a desert course built near Boulder City, Nevada- some 30 miles from the Las Vegas strip... The course was designed in 2000 by Rees Jones, son of the legendary Robert Trent Jones, and brother of Robert Trent Jones Jnr
Rees Jones is well known in his own right and in the USA became known as 'the open doctor' after his work in renovating a number of US Open courses.
Cascata was built on the side of a barren desert hillside, and is a feat of ingenious routing combined with a fairly decent budget. The result is quite wonderful- a green landscape meandering up and down the mountain valleys.
Incredibly (given the terrain) a key component of the design is the waterfalls and rocky streams featuring on many of the holes. This water is brought in each day at significant cost- but is a feature of the course.
Right from the start Cascata was set up for the high rollers, and sets an impressive standard for service levels, maintenance of the course etc The attention to detail is through the roof!
The place gets your attention straight away- you walk into the magnificent clubhouse and it has a thunderous rocky stream & waterfall running smack through the middle of the building .. Yep, inside the clubhouse!
Then when you are loaded on your golf cart in the basement electronic sensors automatically open the doors that allow you to venture out to the course. It is a classy start
The course itself is set on a huge canvas- routed up and down the canyons. You never see another hole from the one you are on.. You are accompanied on your journey by a succession of waterfalls, and the ever present cascading creek. Cascata does mean waterfall in Italian after all!
The condition of the course could not be faulted, and the greens were running at 13 on the stimpmeter. They were seriously quick- but a pleasure to play
Notable holes include:
- hole 1, a tight mid length par 4 that sets the scene for the round
- hole 7, a pictureque par 3 surrounded by water
- hole 10, a strong par 4
- hole 11, a tricky short par 4 requiring an accurate approach over water
- hole 13, a memorable dogleg par 4 with green nestled in the rocks
- hole 17, a strong par 4 with glorious views
- hole 18, a double dogleg par 5 with water short of the green
Cascata is not as crazy like Wolf Creek, but has plenty of challenges of it's own. I enjoyed it.
This would be a great members course- you would be happy to play here on a regular basis. And the service levels in the clubhouse and on course with caddies is exceptional.
I have been a regular visitor to Las Vegas for forty plus years. I marveled at the pace of mega golf development over the years, yet much of the golf present is on the functional side of things from a design perspective. There are exceptions to that but you can likely count them on one hand. The high-end Vegas golf scene is centered on the pampering and utter detail to customer service. People who want top shelf attention can certainly get it in Vegas. The script is a simple one -- get the customer what he or she wants -- before they want it -- and make sure you exceed expectations.
Cascata was created in the aftermath of the success of Shadow Creek. Then owner Steve Wynn smartly understood that taking care of the highest of high rollers meant giving them a golf diversion second to none. In Vegas -- replication is the sincerest form of flattery and MGM -- the folks behind Cascata at its inception -- wanted to have something to rival what Wynn was doing. Ironically, it is now MGM which owns Shadow Creek and Harrahs which owns both Cascata and Rio Seco.
440 acres of land was found about 30 minutes south of The Strip in the town of Boulder City. The course is built literally on a hillside which provides views of the western landscape. Befitting the theme Cascata -- which is Italian for waterfall -- provides a 37,000 square-foot Tuscan clubhouse that features a waterfall that starts at the highest portion of the property and eventually is routed through the confines of the clubhouse. The water rushing through provides a thunderous roar and is truly spectacular. To make the day even more complete you get a personalized caddie who is there to take care of your golfing needs. This isn't the gum-smacking or cigarette chain smoking looper. You get someone who is essentially your butler on the course.
Naturally, when you have top shelf service you also get top tier conditioning. Cascata rivals -- and likely exceeds -- most clubs on the agronomy side of things. The greens are cut and rolled and if you don't develop a sense of speed control at the outset you'll likely be three-putting several times for sure.
The course climbs up and down the hillside where it's routed. The issue quickly becomes one of shot distortion. The uphill holes become predictably harder than the ones going downhill. Rees Jones is a skilled architect and I have played numerous other designs he has created and Cascata fails to break new ground or provide something beyond what he's done previously.
The overriding theme for Cascata is about taking care of the customer and providing an oasis setting that goes far beyond a typical golf experience. Candidly, if people were truthful and had all the extras removed and were forced to just look at the course itself it's more than likely they would see things far differently. The architecture is good in spots but simply empty in others. Shadow Creek is still the top dog when it comes to providing a design on par with the service and amenities provided.
Naturally, the costs to play at Cascata is not a cheap ticket but for those enamored with high end servicing the costs are a much lower concern. However, for those who are golf design aficionados you'll likely come away wondering why the architecture is just so predictable. The hardest part in working in stark desert terrain is providing golf that doesn't look superimposed on the land -- Cascata is an example of man's hand being too big an element in the final creation. One can play quality desert courses such as Coyote Springs and Conestoga in nearby Mesquite which are both well done and far less expensive to play.
As I said at the outset -- Vegas golf is about the customer -- taking care of them to the max. Cascata does not disappoint from the customer service side and there are many people who view customer service and course grooming as being equals or more so to when the actual architecture is assessed. While I certainly appreciate the former -- it is the latter which gets my immediate attention and higher priority.
Cascata is the equivalent of many modern movies today -- give the paying viewer plenty of car chases and explosions but no real character development or storyline. Cascata provides a first rate show -- the depth side of the aisle is what's missing. When you finish playing Cascata you'll relish the attention to detail on the customer service side -- but you'll be scratching your head in trying to remember the holes you just played.
by M. James Ward
Had the opportunity to play at Cascata whilst in Las Vegas on a business trip and what a treat. The place is a first class and indulgent experience as reflected in the price to play there, but you will not be disappointed.
From the waterfall in the clubhouse itself, to the practice facilities, the whole experience is well organised and set out for those visiting.
As for the course itself - it is certainly one of the very best I have played so far. Set in the stunningly rugged Red Mountain canyons, you get the sense of being all on your own when playing each hole, and you are in awe at times of the beauty of the natural surroundings.
The course plays longer than the yardage on the scorecard but it is not gruelling, with an equal amount of the holes playing uphill and downhill, and with 40% of the holes having water for you to negotiate. For me the most memorable hole is the short downhill par 3 7th hole which is surrounded by a water, a waterfall and a U shaped bunker - a stunning looking hole from the tee box. The par 5 16th and 18th holes are also ones that I will remember for a while and really require the player to think strategically on how to tackle them.
The greens are super quick, yet they run so true. It is imperative that you get some time on the practice greens before hand otherwise it will be a long time on the greens during your round. That being said, if you get your eye in, you should be fine!
A shout out to our caddy on the day - Casey - a top bloke who was a pleasure throughout on the history of the course, as well as advising us on what we should be doing.
If you are in Vegas, have a spare couple hundred bucks to spend on a first class experience, then this is the place to spend it!
Tough terrain and location to build a golf course. Many holes run parallel with distances between holes. World class service and a memorable day out.