The hills around the township of Henderson lie a 20-minute drive south of Las Vegas and they were an important cog in the American war machine during the early 1940s, supplying the government with magnesium for incendiary munitions.
The area has since been reinvented as a vacation destination and the Lake Las Vegas Resort, in particular, attracts many visitors every year to hotel, casino and sporting attractions that include boating, fishing and, of course, golf.
The course of SouthShore Country Club was the first private Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in Nevada when it opened in 1996 and its fairways ride the ridges and career down canyons to the lovely lakeside with elevation changes of over 300 feet along the way.
It plays to a par of 71 and although this is resort golf with generous landing areas, there are strategically placed bunker complexes in place, plus forced carries over water and gorges, to threaten a good score.
Lake Las Vegas visitors can also play another Nicklaus design, the public access Reflection Bay, which opened two years after SouthShore and is set on the opposite side of the Wash.
Really challenging, especially from the black tees, but there are forwards to play. Typical Nicklaus. Fairway bunkers strategically placed to complicate things off the tee. Difficult approaches into many of the greens. Your iron game needs to be pretty sharp here. Plays firm. Local knowledge needed to pick some of the best lines off the tee, particularly on the back 9.
Most of the 5's are reachable, but with high risk/reward of negotiating fairway bunkers, water, or both.
Par 4's require good position off the tee for the best lines into the green. The greens play really firm, so you need to play it short of the pins (and sometimes even the green) to give yourself a chance. The par 4, 3rd hole is an absolute brute. One tricky hole on the back - 17. It was kind of shoehorned in, so play with someone in the know to pick the right line.
The par 3's are pretty long, with the exception of 14. Three of the five are abutted by water short of the green. All of them are challenging, and par is a good score for ANY of them.
All in all, its a pretty difficult course. One of the more difficult you'll play in Vegas. It requires accuracy off the tee, and precision into the greens. And a good stroke with the putter will help. I think it's sloped out at 148 from the black tees. So bring your "A" game...
Great area. Lake Las Vegas is a pretty cool place, and this course is nestled in an upscale community with spectacular views to boot. Watch out for the mountain goats...
The most lasting element of SouthShore is how the design works within the heaving and rolling nature of the property and the stunning eye vistas you see when playing. It's often hard to focus on the task at-hand.
The elevation switches are quite intense -- over 300 feet encountered. Credit the Nicklaus team in realizing the likely audience of members and guests as the course provides four par-5 holes and five par-3 holes. The range of par-4s is good but it would have been a real plus to have had a superb short one that accentuates the risk / reward dynamic. Also, the inclusion of abutting ponds near to greens on the par-3 holes gets a bit redundant.
SouthShore is a fun challenge. Unlike other Nicklaus courses designed in that period of time which often were stacked in favor of the low handicap golfer capable in carrying the ball sufficient distances and mirroring the kind of game the Golden Bear demonstrated during his playing career.
Turf conditions are often ideal and the juxtaposition of the desert area in contrast with the verdant green turf areas does add to the experience. There are stunning views and being able to focus is certainly needed at different times.
Much is made of the final holes at South Shore. You finish the round on ground quite severe and being able to adjust to the heights encountered and the wind velocities that can pick-up considerably during certain times of the year can be a tough chore.
SouthShore is the quintessential desert golf playground. Classical golf lovers may find it lacking given the necessity of power carts. However, the holes provide a range of exhilarating moments. Jack also provided a slew of interesting greens -- several of which have false fronts that need to be handled with solid execution and precision. The same can be said for the vexing internal contours on a number of the greens.
It amazes me when people talk about Vegas golf -- there's few who mention SouthShore. That's a clear statement of ignorance because the design maximizes a fun quotient that clearly motivates people to return and try their skills the next time.
The mark of any redeeming course is the wherewithal to capture one's attention.
SouthShore clearly does that.
M. James Ward