Nevada makes one last ditch effort to keep golfers in-state before they enter Utah on their way to St. George, a noted golf trip destination. The city of Mesquite offers three high-end golf courses right next to each other along the Las Vegas Freeway. First there is the famous Wolf Creek Golf Club, followed by the Oasis Club — which includes the acclaimed Palmer Course — and then Falcon Ridge Golf Course. All these clubs share dramatic desert terrain, with photogenic rock formations rising between the holes.
Falcon Ridge is the only design for the duo of Kelby Hughes and Crescent Hardy, so they were sure to make a statement. The opening trio of holes on the back nine speak louder than most.
First, players leave the clubhouse, heading toward the green of a very drivable par five (485 yards) but a stream divides the hole into two fairways along the entire length. Then, the yardage seems short at No. 11 (325 yards) but the tee shot must crest a dramatic swell before tumbling back down toward the green. No. 12 is a double dogleg par five, featuring a pair of lakes on either side to enforce accuracy.
Falcon Ridge more or less the budget option of Mesquite, though that's a relative term, as it's not particularly cheap unless you're willing to play in the Summer heat. It does have some great holes, but not as consistently as other courses of Mesquite.
The front 9 is mostly rather boring, there just isn't much that takes advantage of the landscape in meaningful ways. It's not necessarily bad forgettable enough that I struggled to remember much about it before doing this review.
The back 9, on the other hand, is much better and delivers on the Mesquite flavor, big rises and of course: a massive downhill drive par 5. Forgiving they aren't, but make for a much more exciting experience than the front.
12: The signature hole, a dog-leg left par 5 with a lot of water to play around, especially toward the green. A good drive may be able to attempt the green in two, but attempt at own risk.
13: A sharp dog-leg right up-then-down par 4, and the handicap 1 for a reason. Requiring a shot across water to reach the green going downhill, pick the right club or else.
For the summer price and those who can stand the heat, you'll get your money's worth. Or if you're spending a week in Mesquite it might be worth considering. But it isn't a destination course to play by itself.
The sad misfortune for Falcon Ridge is when you have a desire to have a golf course forced upon a tough site and the number one priority is how to squeeze as much housing as possible you get a potpourri of outcomes -- some very fun holes but a number of others scratching your held in bewilderment.
Falcon Ridge shows how golf can be sublimated to the overriding need to create as much housing as possible. The golf had to fit that central requirement.
Unlike nearby neighboring courses such as Wolf Creek and Conestoga, Falcon Ridge does not have the consistency of the holes to merit serious consideration as a worthy competitor.
The routing of the front side is truly bizarre. Given the layout of the property the 1st is a fairly ordinary par-5. The next several holes play nearly in a straight line and frankly when you are done getting through the 5th you may experience a severe case of drowsiness caused by utter boredom.
Thankfully, matters do change with the quality par-4 6th. The hole is not cluttered and its challenge is very straightforward. Playing 410 yards you start from an elevated tee and the hole baits you into going for the big play from the tee. One needs to be especially prudent in finding the narrow fairway so that one's approach can come from the short grass.
Unfortunately, you then plunge back into dullsville design with the par-5 7th. Houses engulf the entire right side.
and it's clear the need for a long par-5 was placed so as to create yardage. It's too bad some sort of creative bunkering or fairway shaping could have been done to add a bit more zest.
The par-3 8th and par-4 9th are simply pedestrian holes concluding the outward side.
Amazingly, the inward half commences with a fine par-5 hole. Playing uphill you encounter a creek bed that runs parallel to the line of play. One has to decide which side you attempt to find from the tee. The green also has plenty of movement with rear far right and left pin placements are quite challenging to find with the approach.
The next three holes that follow constitute some creative design outcomes. The severely uphill short par-4 11 is quite good as precision, not just brawn, is central to achieving any success -- especially when the pin is cut to the extreme rear area of the green. The 12th ramps up matters considerably as a risk/reward par-5. You have to decide just how far down the fairway you wish to hit your tee ball. Strong players may not need to go with the big stick as the fairway is smartly tapered to prevent a grip and rip dimension. The green is also protected by a frontal pond.
The par-4 13th is arguably one of the finest holes you will play from all the varied courses that call Mesquite home. The par-4 turns right in the drive zone but features a reverse camber. Best of all, the hole is not impacted by any housing so that the desert landscape is clearly unimpeded. There's also a pond near the green and the putting surface is sufficiently contoured so putting skill is accentuated.
Just as things are beginning to accelerate positively you then slide back down with plodding holes at the par-3 14th and the uphill par-4 15th respectively. The par-5 16th showcases an infinity tee shot which is nicely done but there's little else design wise as the hole could hold the men's downhill ski race.
The par-3 17th flips the switch with a demanding long par-3 at 232 yards. One will have to deal with the claustrophobic housing on both sides but the mitigating factor is the humongous frontal bunker and the way the green is shaped.
The closing hole - a par-4 of 420 yards - plays slightly uphill with some fairway contouring that includes a spine in the middle of the fairway. The green is fairly straightforward in its intricacies.
Part of the issue with Falcon Ridge is dealing with cart rides that can. at times, be a bit much. With such demanding terrain at times, there are several instances where the usage of a power cart is done to sling golfers to the next available amount of land that could be created for golf holes.
Falcon Ridge provides a flexible rate to play depending on the time of year and given the costs for such places like Wolf Creek and Conestoga it's likely to attract more repeat play. Falcon Ridge has several holes of note that clearly one can relish but you'll also have to deal a equal number which truly are in need of a overhaul. With a proper renovation, Falcon Ridge could certainly even more fun shots and holes.
M. James Ward