Those who are familiar with the fantasyland layout made famous by Wolf Creek in golf video games will understand what The Oasis Club in Mesquite, Nevada is selling: Views, views, more views, and quality golf to go with it. The Palmer Course is both the higher-ranked and the more playable of the two courses at Oasis.
Although players will face the No. 1 handicap hole early, at No. 3, the real reason for their visit will appear at No. 5: Players will drive from an elevated tee box down to a fairway that runs through a canyon created by the rising rock formations that rise across the property. This reachable hole will be followed by a par four with similar surroundings, and then a par three where the green poses ahead of a canyon. Beautiful, but potentially deadly for your scorecard!
Granted, the term “oasis” brings water to mind more so than stone, and so when players exit the rockworks on No. 7, they’ll be thinking about a lake they need to clear on the way home at this par five. The mix of rock hazards and water hazards continues into the back nine.
Oasis is one of the lower tier courses which you may want to include in a Mesquite itinerary. My last couple visits I chose not to include it. Other places have opened in the accessible area which offer a better experience. It has much of the contour and playing fields of the other Mesquite courses just not as memorable.
The first Arnold Palmer Course I had the pleasure to play, that is obviously a major draw to the course. It has an overall great layout, and its got some holes that are among the absolute best in Mesquite. The price
The front 9 starts out with some of the most tightly crowded with housing holes in the region, though the houses are fortunately very well protected from errant shots. But the latter half are the main highlights of the course, with two downhill par 5s and some excellent usage of the landscape.
The back 9 is unfortunately not nearly as exciting, but it should still be a fun time in its own right. Water is a bit more common, and fortunately not nearly as claustrophobic as the worst of the front 9. Though, its only one of each par 3 and par 5 might lead to boredom for those who get bored with par 4s.
5: A great downhill drive par 5, offers a great eagle opportunity to the good drive.
6: A great par 4, the green has a great natural amphitheater feel as it is reached. There's a reason Palmer is proud of this one.
7: A par 3 requiring a shot across the canyon, provides a tense challenge to get on.
8: Another downhill drive par 5, but far more dangerous to approach due to the right water hazard. Approach in two at own risk, and getting a good score is worth being proud of.
16: A downhill par 3 that offers some good views of the surrounding area.
If you don't mind the heat, there are definitely many other, better courses in Mesquite, St. George, or Las Vegas that can be played for similar prices or less. Nonetheless, it is understandable that Arnold Palmer is fond of this design, as it is one of the stronger courses of Mesquite. If you are visiting Mesquite and need an Arnold Palmer course to play, it's a worthwhile round.
When I first played the Oasis not long after it opened in 1995 the 1st hole was a long par-5 going uphill for all if its 550 or so yards. In the years to follow a new clubhouse was created in 2000 and the hole was shortened considerably. The rest of the course has remained relatively intact.
Often Arnold Palmer designs are forgettable. Far too many times the designs were cranked out with simply predictable holes and little real strategic calculations. The Oasis is clearly not in that mold. The course shows some early teeth with a decent par-3 at the 2nd and a first rate par-4 at the 3rd with a menacing pond near the green following a neat blind tee shot.
The 4th is another good hole - less than 400 yards but mandating accuracy off the tee and a quality approach to a long and narrow green.
It's when you arrive at the par-5 5th that matters go to another level. The downhill 540-yard hole is bracketed by major sand dunes. The pressure to play a quality tee shot is upped significantly. Plenty of players opt to use an iron in order to avoid a precarious situation to either the left or right sides.
The uphill 6th goes back the reverse direction and is a brilliant counterpoint because nothing has been done to overplay what the hole provides so naturally. The key is hitting towards the fairway bunker -- and then playing an approach from that point. Only the bold -- or the reckless -- attempt to fit a driver through the narrow slot provided. The short par-3 7th that follows is well done with a green elevated and providing a treacherous back left pin location. The par-5 8th is somewhat similar to the 5th but in this case there's a frontal pond challenging those who wish to think about using driver from the tee given the perils for any misfire.
The 9th and 10th are mere filler and sap the momentum from the previous sequence of holes. Things do come back noticeably at the par-4 11th -- a superb 446-yard par-4 starting from an elevated tee where water enters the picture off the tee on the left and which has players thinking very carefully for the approach protected well by the same water hazard.
The par-5 12th is a fairly simple hole but things return to form with the next three holes at the 13thr thru 15th. Each of the holes plays under 400 yards but each is fairly different from one another.
The final trio of holes is not helped by a pedestrian par-3 16th and the final two holes -- both mid-length par-4's include water with the 17th featuring it greenside and the 18th having water for the length of the hole down the right side and just off the front of the green.
All in all, Oasis provides its share of memorable holes. There are also a number of holes which are merely pedestrian and often times it's because of the intrusiveness of the nearby housing. Part of the issue with the course rests on not having a richness in design details tied to the putting surfaces. They are good in spots -- formulaic in others. For those making the way to Mesquite an opportunity to play one of the better Palmer layouts is certainly worth a play.
M. James Ward