Royal Links Golf Club was envisaged as a tribute to the links game played at layouts on the Open rota (both past and present) in Britain, with holes inspired by the likes of the world famous “Postage Stamp” at Royal Troon and the “Road Hole” on the Old course at St Andrews.
Audaciously designed by Perry Dye & Cynthia Dye McGarey, opening for play in 1998, this faux-links really is one of the more unusual Vegas golfing experiences, where even a few Scots pine trees have been planted here and there. Even the Road Hole appears surprisingly authentic... in a Vegas kind of way.
Authenticity is not a Vegas strong point. As a visitor it’s hard to differentiate between fantasy and reality in “The Entertainment Capital of the World”.
I’m going to be a tad kinder in my assessment of Royal Links than my friend Mr. Ward. In Vegas things are not cut and dry. I think it’s fair enough to call your facility “Links” when you’ve tried to faithfully reproduce eighteen holes from famous Scottish and English Open Championship links courses in a completely alien landscape. Heck, they’ve even built a Swilcan Bridge. Where else can you play a Postage Stamp and a Road Hole during a single round?
Calling your facility Royal is a tad disingenuous, but sincerity is maybe pants down in Vegas. The cost to play Royal Links is around 100 bucks so it’s not robbery with violence. If you don’t have the time or money to travel across the pond to experience the real thing, then why not try Royal Links and follow it up with a meal at the Eiffel Tower restaurant?
Playing Royal Links was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had on a golf course. The juxtaposition between weirdly familiar looking links holes and the searing heat with an arid desert backcloth was bizarre in the extreme.
If you know real links golf, then I’d suggest you take a look if you're in town and judge for yourself. If you’re not familiar with links golf just enjoy the illusion. There’s only one real Paris after all.
Unfortunately, Royal Links is neither "royal" nor "links." It's the equivalent of selling something but coming nowhere close to doing just that. In so many ways the course is the golf caricature Vegas is fond of creating - where illusion surpasses reality.
I have a profound and deep distaste for any layout that incorporates the word "links" into its name when in all reality they are not. I give a bit of leeway to Pebble Beach for its design, but even in that instance it's necessary to point out that Pebble used creative license to pull the word association off.
Royal Links has a few interesting holes but there's not enough compelling architecture to keep one's interest. Vegas does have some quality designs that do deliver.
Getting firmer turf would help but a better option would be to rename the course and seek to update the layout to be more of what it is rather than attempting to be something which it clearly is not.
M. James Ward