Many of the golf courses along the Las Vegas Strip are both public and feature bold, thematic aesthetics (see the The Wynn or Bali Hai). The Las Vegas Country Club represents the traditional American golf destination, however it can hardly be considered “buttoned-up.”
For one, it’s always catered to a high-profile clientele. One of its first members was Dean Martin, who prescribed to the round-a-day diet. Secondly, the course has been a prodigious host of professional events, hosting 21 PGA and LPGA events as of 2021. And who can blame the pros for having shown up? The 1983 Panasonic Las Vegas Invitational was the first million-dollar purse in Tour history, and the trend continued.
Finally, the club has embraced its loud history as part of the aesthetic. Installations around the club include a full-color statue of Martin, as well as a replica of the FBI plane that once landed on the course pond.
None of this is to suggest that the Ed Ault design is not worthy of attention of its own accord. The course closed for nearly a year during 2009 for Mark Rathert to lead a renovation of its greens, bunkers and tees.
The most enduring element when discussing Las Vegas Country Club (LVCC) is the storied history and its ongoing place among golf options when coming to the gaming mecca of the USA. Amazingly, LVCC has been able to sustain itself over the years even when potential suitors were eager to move ahead with a possible purchase.
One can fully understand that when you consider where LVCC is located.
Along with recently re-opened and re-configured Wynn Golf Course and Bali Hai -- Las Vegas CC joins the other two as the closest regulation courses to the famed Strip.
Those who have the opportunity to visit Las Vegas CC will be struck by the club's long-time involvement in staging professional golf events. For many years when the PGA Tour came to Vegas one of the host courses was LVCC. The LPGA also did likewise for a number of years before terminating in 2006.
The original course was designed by Ed Ault and when one sees early photos you see a layout free of clutter. Over the course of time -- that changed dramatically. Homes sprung up around the perimeter of the layout and a vast number of trees were also added in framing the fairways.
The course may be in the desert but it provides more of a parkland connection. The terrain is generally dead flat and the sameness of the land makes the golf fairly repetitive.
In recent years the layout was updated but even with those minor adjustments the design pales in comparison to the recent wave of new courses dotting the greater Vegas scene in recent years. One interesting aspect of any visit is seeing the Dean Martin statue situated near to the start of each nine. Martin, the famed singer and actor as well as a member of the famed Rat Pack led by Frank Sinatra, was a long-time member and avid golfer.
LVCC has a few holes of note - the stretch from the par-5 6th to the par-5 9th is good. At the final hole of the outward side, you are tested in placing your tee shot in a well-bunkered fairway and then if successful can take the risk in going for a green just over a fronting pond.
The inward half is a bit more challenging but only marginally. The final two holes are worthy of attention. The penultimate is a quality par-3 of 205 yards with a pond hugging the right side of the green. The finale, which plays in the shadows of the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. The hole turns right in the drive zone and for those able to launch a long and accurate tee shot the wherewithal to go for the green is an option to ponder. The key is avoiding a man-made pond that is sits literally on the edge of the green. Miss by even a millimeter and a donation of one's golf ball is guaranteed.
LVCC is still worthy of checking out if able to gain access. Yet, keep in mind, the level of architecture overall in Clark County has certainly elevated itself over the last quarter of century. Courses are now located on terrain that years earlier would have been ruled out as near impossible to develop and, in a number of instances, are quite engaging. LVCC is like one of those long-playing Vegas night club stage acts -- it's not breaking new ground but it still warms the heart.
M. James Ward