When discussing Dye-dedicated destinations, one cannot forget the public-access trove that exists just north of Las Vegas: The Paiute Golf Resort features 54 holes, all designed by Pete Dye, along with his son Perry and his niece, Cynthia Dye-McGarey. Sun Mountain was the second of the courses at Paiute, debuting a year after the Snow Mountain Course, and followed by The Wolf.
The latter is considered by far the most challenging 18 at the property, but the Sun is still considered more playable for the mid-handicapper than Snow due to its relative lack of water compared to the other courses at Paiute (although the closer at Sun Mountain is a classic Dye cape-style par four). Dye uses a different trademark signature to differentiate Sun Mountain, employing more railroad-tie bunkers to frame the fairways here. The course can hardly be described as “short,” as it checks in at more than 7,100 yards from the back tees.
The Paiute Resort was the first Native American-owned property to feature multiple golf courses, and they correctly chose not to stop at two!
Of the three courses at the resort -- Sun Mountain, in my mind, is the one coming in third place for overall quality. The holes encountered are a good mixture but the architecture is more predictable than compelling.
Like the other two courses the elements can clearly play a major role during a round. Wind patterns can be fierce -- especially during afternoon play. How fierce? It's not entirely unlikely that as much as 5-6 club differentials can happen when the wind velocities are really howling. It's best to secure morning tee times before the atmosphere heats up.
Credit Dye for not overly shaping Sun Mountain and having all sorts of harsh land forms that clearly are contrived.
The routing moves players around the site so adjustments are needed -- as mentioned earlier when the wind is really a force to reckon with. The greensites are engaging but not especially noteworthy.
Overall, Sun Mountain is an enjoyable layout, however, Dye aficionados will likely wish there was more to offer.
M. James Ward
My reviews on Snow Mountain and Sun Mountain will provide a different opinion of what is of quality at Paiute and in what order the architectural quality lines up. Mr. Ward and I go far back and have slightly differing pecking orders for the criteria that make a great design vs. just a great test.
My sources tell me Curley & Schmidt were involved here on Snow and Sun .
Wolf is longest, but the architecture just screams at you from Sun and Snow. It was Wolf for me that needed more design quality, the course was made less penal strategically to accommodate the extra length.
Pauite Sun is not as acclaimed as The Wolf, but it is still a fine golf course. The first hole is a long downhill right leaning par 4. Fairway bunkers both sides, but favor the left. The green is protected with a right front bunker. The 2nd hole is also downhill. A short par four this is a real birdie oppty. Favor the left off the tee and consider leaving the driver in the bag. Big hitters can reach the first par 5 in two. However, to have a decent chance you must favor the right off the tee. Fairway bunkers left and right, albeit the lefts are more intimidating. There is only one greenside bunker, front left and the green does sit in an amphitheater. The first par 3 is long and almost all carry over the water hazard. The 5th is an uphill par four that tilts right with another carry over water off the tee. There are a myriad of bunkers down the right side so the safe play is left off the tee and this does provide an easier approach as well. The 5th does have one of the trickier greens. Not sure why the 6th is the number one handicap hole. Favor the right off the tee. If you like Pete Dye railroad ties then you will love this hole. The par 5 7th is reachable in two. Off the tee aim at the right edge of the left fairway bunker. This hole lists left and the green sits behind a front center bunker and a deep grass mogul left. The 8th is a par three with a redan green. Front left is a large deep bunker with two others on the right. This is a very narrow green. The 9th is a demanding dogleg left. Cut as much of the corner as you can, the fairway does narrow and there are fairway bunkers right and left. This is a narrow undulating green.
The back starts with an excellent birdie oppty, the shortest par four. The hole bends slightly right, favor left of center off the tee. The 11th is a long uphill right leaning par 5. The green sits between two moguls that can help errant approaches. The 12th is the longest par 4 and it is also uphill. Large fairway bunker right and a normal size bunker left and two greenside one left and one right. The 13th turns left and is rated even harder than 12. Off the tee aim just right of the left fairway bunker. The 14th is a long par 3. While it may appear there are three greenside bunkers, two are well short of the green. The next three holes are scoring oppties. The 15th has a split fairway with five bunkers in the cleavage. Left is safer, but you will then need to carry the bunkers. The par 5 16th is a favorite of the railroad tie crowd. The 17th is the shortest hole and the most forgettable. The 18th is a good finishing hole. Dogleg left with a large water hazard all the way down the left side. There are also fairway bunkers right. You will need two good shots to make par here.
Good not great. If you are going to play The Wolf, you might as well play The Sun. I liked it better than Snow