It’s difficult to find something to say about Wolf Creek Golf Club that has not already been said… spectacular… visually stunning… jaw dropping views… awe inspiring. Located in Mesquite, Nevada, approximately 80 miles Northeast of Las Vegas, Wolf Creek is a golf course you will never forget.
Mesquite is a smaller, working class version of Vegas. The hotels and casinos there are not as large, as fancy or as fanciful. However, the golf is as good as Vegas, and Wolf Creek is just about as good as it gets anywhere. Standing on the first tee at Wolf Creek looking down several hundred feet to the fairway in the valley below only gives a glimpse of what is yet to come. The first question that comes to mind is “how did they ever build the course?”
The 360-degree vistas of red rock mountains, desert, mesas, steep cliffs and ravines would more likely be an environment to be explored on the Discovery Channel rather than the Golf Channel. Architect Dennis Rider somehow filled in the valleys with enough fertile soil to create eighteen emerald ribbons through this naturally hostile environment. The course plays over 7,000 yards from the tips, but because the majority of holes have downhill tee shots it doesn’t play that long. However, unless you are a straight hitter, it may be a wise choice to play from one of the other four tee boxes, because the wind can wreak havoc and there is often no recovery from errant shots. From the tips Wolf Creek is rated as the fourth most difficult course in the US. From the middle tees it is quite fair and will allow you to play to your handicap.
Riding a buggy makes you feel as if you are on the runaway train ride at Disney World both in terms of the roller coaster like route, and also because of the surreal surroundings. This would not be an easy course to walk even if walking was permitted. A steep up hill ride leads to the second tee box where you have a panoramic view of the first, second and seventeenth holes. Number two is a 445-yard dogleg left where the tee shot is aimed over a mountain ridge. Another uphill ride to the tee on the 227-yard par three third reveals a knee knocking slightly uphill shot that is almost all carry over a rocky peak.
The course does well in mixing long and short holes and very difficult and moderately difficult holes. The elevation changes and surroundings can produce optical illusions when trying to determine yardages. For example, the 305-yard seventh hole looks more like a 210-yard par three. There is a ridge in the fairway about 190 yards out with a wide ravine fronting the green that appears to be just beyond the ridgeline. Only when you get to the ridge do you realize that there is another 115 yards of downhill lie fairway beyond the ridge that must be factored into the approach shot over ravine to the elevated green. The tricky approach shot makes this short hole quite a challenge and is the type of design characteristic that makes Wolf Creek such an interesting layout beyond the beauty of the setting. Bring your “A” game and your camera when you play Wolf Creek.
The above article and all photographs are courtesy of Stewart, who nominated Wolf Creek as a Gem back in December 2006. Since then, Wolf Creek has moved into a prominent position within our Nevada Best In State rankings.
Probably the most beautiful course I've ever played. It must have been a madman who designed a course in the mountains and desert like this.
It is indeed a roller coaster as well, with cart paths winding up and down steep grades. As for the course, it's maintained very well. Beautiful fairways, white sand bunkers, and speedy greens. Its a tough but fair course, if you can hit the ball well, you'll have no problems.
There are several risk/reward opportunities, particularly the par 5's and a number of drivable par 4's.
The main reason to play this course is the unique views. I don't think I've ever seen any course quite like this anywhere in the world.
This isn't a golf course. It's an amusement park. Had I not known better, I would have thought this was another Jim Engh "gem".
If you appreciate design principles and shot values, stay away from this one. I wouldn't play it again, even if it were free.
Seriously? Wolf Creek is one of the best courses I've ever played.
Seriously. One of the worst I've played.
I'm happy for you though...
Wolf Creek is an experience like few other golf courses. It's not for nothing that it's been featured in several video games (such as the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series), as it's a spectacular layout. As such, it was a surreal experience to play it in person. It was also without a doubt the most enjoyable round I have played so far, without a dull moment the entire round.
This is a course where it doesn't really warrant separate analysis of each 9. While not all the holes are super spectacular, there vast majority are truly stunning. No other course have I taken as many photos, making this particularly difficult to choose only 5 to upload, it's just that spectacular and memorable. No other Mesquite course delivers as consistently the feel of Wolf Creek, and so there are very few dull moments. There are some downsides to the design, as it can be scary to drive the carts down some slopes. But it's otherwise an absolutely exceptionally designed course, so much so, that it would be easier to list the not so notable holes. But that would be unfair to the course, let's dive into them.
1: A moderately long downhill par 5. If you can hit a good drive and second shot, an eagle may be in reach here.
3: A ridiculously uphill par 3, an one with an unforgiving shape too. Can be borderline ridiculous.
5: A sharp-dogleg left par 5, and the shortest too. The more you're willing to attempt cutting off, the better your chances of reaching the green in two, as it's straight uphill once on the fairway.
7: A driveable par 4, but with water on the front, it makes for a great risk-reward hole for the long-hitter.
8: A downhill par 3 with a river along the left side, accuracy is particularly important here.
11: Another downhill par 3, but it's fortunately much more forgiving.
12: Yet another dramatically downhill par 5, don't hook your drive or slice your approach to the green, but it's a potential eagle for the accurate hitter.
13: A short tight dogleg-right par 4. It's short enough that the long hitter can go straight for the green if they don't mind the blind shot.
14: A long carry is required on this par 4 to reach the fairway, then approach the green after the dogleg left.
15: A not terribly remarkable par 3 by itself, but provides one of the better places to take in the view.
17: A true standout even by this course's standards, it's also a downhill drive par 5. But what puts it about the rest is the exceptional risk-reward design, as a long drive can definitely provide a strong chance at reaching in two. But, the double water carry makes it very intimidating, and still challenging when played normally.
For walking purists or those who can't enjoy a round with limited room for error, then Wolf Creek might not be for you. However, for anyone else, I would consider Wolf Creek absolutely worth playing at least once. Whether it schools you or you conquer it with a great score, it's a round you won't soon forget. Anybody visiting the region without budget constraints would do well to consider checking it out, and those with one might consider looking into the cheapest summer twilight rates.
Thanks for the review JM Conover. I have fond memories playing this course on the TW video game (and more recently on WGT golf). Gives you a sense that you know the course well. Has some difficulty too - some angles definitely leave you up Wolf Creek without a paddle.
Assuming you played recently, what were the course playing conditions like? Wondering if it’s year-round venue or if you need to time it right…
Unfortunately, it is not speaking from a recent experience. I can say that for the best conditions, i don’t recommend playing right before the re-seeding.
Wolf Creek is totally unique. From the 1st tee to the 18th green you feel as if you have been airlifted to Mars. There are a hand full of holes which are totally unique. This is a very good course which delivers holes in a special setting. A couple of the par 3's are very demanding. One up hill and blind to a very narrow green and one down hill to a green nearly surrounded by a stream, and it plays over 200....A number of holes follow the various dark orange valleys forming stunning holes. A trip to Mesquite is a fun romp and absolutely requires you to visit here.
This is certainly golf from another planet. Should be on every golfers bucket list.
Remember those crazy golf calendars from 20 years ago? Well, you will when you play Wolf Creek in Mesquite, Nevada!
Wolf Creek is located in the desert some 75 miles from the strip in Las Vegas - it is quite a journey to get there. The land is most inhospitable- barren hills and canyons exposed to strong winds- all in the middle of nowhere.
Yet brothers Dennis and John Ryder sculpted something from less than nothing when they designed Wolf Creek GC back in 2000.
Wolf Creek is ridiculous! It is the craziest golf course I have ever seen or played. But it is great fun- at some stages the tee is 100 ft above the fairway....
The course winds it's way through, over, up and down a succession of canyons and hills with tees, fairways and greens often placed in the most unlikely places.
First time players climb to crazy tees and locate a sliver of fairway and laugh in delight at the incredulity of it all.
The course is exposed and we played in strong winds- it made judging the length of those elevated tee shots nigh on impossible.
Our rounds as a two ball in the middle of groups of 4 took 5 hours 15 minutes...But it would be hard to do better - such is the challenge for the visiting golfer.
The environment is so tough the course cart paths need to be replaced every 5 years or so- they are the steepest, most dangerous cart paths I've seen....
However Wolf Creek is an amazing place to play golf- everyone should let their hair down and play this course once in their lifetimes- it is that crazy you will never forget it. The challenges from the tee keep coming each hole- I have to hit it there???- you say..
You have to hand it to the Ryder brothers- they have been very creative in routing this course. I will never forget the tee shots on holes like two and five where you are so far above the fairway and have to pick a line and a length and then just launch your drive into space.
Notable holes include:
- hole 2, a short dogleg par 4 from a very high tee- it takes a while to get up there. And then you face the most incredible tee shot. It's exhilirating!
- hole 4, another short dogleg par 4- this one has a mass of bunkers on the inside of the dogled that must be avoided
- hole 5, a spectacular par 5 from another elevated tee where the blood is really pumping. Carry the creek or it will be a very long hole..
- hole 8, a pretty downhill par 3 to a green oasis surrounded by water and rock
- hole 12, a pictureque downhill par 5 with water in play down the length of the hole
- hole 14, a unique dogleg par 4 heavily protected by bunkers
- hole 17, a ripping par 5 where decisions need to be made and executed. Longer hitters can get home with two strong blows
The pictures don't really do Wolf Creek justice. You have to play it, experience it- at least once in your life. But it won't suit everybody- it is a world away from the classic courses we love, and totally unwalkable, and takes too long to play. But if you want to let the hair down and have a bit of fun, you won't come away disappointed..
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Views unlike any other course I have ever played. Every hole is a postcard. Played in wet and cool conditions made for a terrifying experience driving the cart on this extremely rugged course. my only real complaint is a lack of GPS on the cart. On at least three occasions I hit a good shot into what later turned out to be a hidden water hazard. Still, this course is a very unique experience not to be missed.
Wolf Creek is something special. It's even on the Tiger Woods PlayStation game. It's almost a surreal feeling playing such a stunning and unique course. A course that you can only imagine how hard it must have been to construct.
Beautiful, green manicured fairways and greens against the stark backdrop of dusty desert canyons with huge elevation changes, provide sensory overload. The course every time I've played it has been in excellent condition and that is in the height of a hot summer.
I've rarely felt so excited before a round and you can feel your heart rate increase as you drive towards the clubhouse (after a great drive from Las Vegas).
The first creates the right level of drama and anticipation with a raised tee shot down onto a low fairway which then snakes it's way back up to a raised green. A fantastic opening par 4 which is very playable. The second is even better with another hugely elevated tee shot down onto a big dogleg left fairway to the extent that you don't know how far left to aim from the tee and how much to try cutting off the angle. Thankfully I found the fairway which was met with an echoing thud. Yes, that's right - a loud thud! From a golf ball. What a feeling.
The course is so good, so much fun and varied I could write the longest review in history however I'd probably run out of available characters!
For me the hardest hole was the par 3 8th. The tee box is slightly elevated and there's a steam which hugs the left hand side of the green. From the tee box however it just looks like there is absolutely no margin for error which increases the pressure. Unfortunately I managed to hozel shank it into the scrub.
Whilst the 18th is a slight let down for a final hole, it's not bad but the 17th is an absolute cracker of a par 5. Another hugely elevated tee shot if hit very well gives you the opportunity to go for the green in 2. The second shot is a classic risk v reward as there is water at the front and right hand side of the green.
The staff at the club are very friendly and accommodating and the food very good too. Wolf Creek is so good it makes me want to fly out to Las Vegas just to play it for a fourth time.
Phenomenal and most definitely a must play before you die.
There's a part in the movie Hunt for Red October where a character asks about the fictional Russian submarine: "they really built this?" It was all I could think for the first couple of holes as I marvelled at each new twist and turn. Yes, they really did build a golf course in this landscape and what a ride it is. The excellent reviews below have provided all the hole-specific info anyone should need, so I'll limit myself to this:
When money is no object you can build a course as spectacular as this one! Ribbons of green are draped across desert canyons and hilltops to create something visually amazing. The actual holes aren't a bad design either, making use of the terrain and complementing with plenty of hazards, including plenty of risk-reward holes. The 7th is a great example where dead ground hides fairway, a common trick here. You just need to go play there. Stand on the tees and look around and be amazed. Try the shots and embrace something outstanding in the wonderful world of golf.
The best way to explain Wolf Creek is to use a movie analogy. If Pine Valley or Cypress Point are the "Citizen Kane" of golf courses -- Wolf Creek is akin to "Raiders of the Lost Ark." The Mesquite-based course is an adventurous romp through one of the most incredible locations I've played. It's akin to a Martian landscape with golf holes included.
Now, it's important to point out Wolf Creek is not everyone's cup of tea.
For purists who insist courses can only be great when walking is on the agenda it's best to skip the rest of this review. Carts are mandatory at Wolf Creek and while the spacing of holes is not far from one another there are times when carts rides will be the equivalent of a roller coaster with speed bumps placed intermittently. I don't doubt that can be annoying but when you come to Wolf Creek there needs to be a suspension of the usual golf protocol one normally applies given the nature of the site and the holes found here.
Wolf Creek is a visual presence of immense proportions -- both internally and externally. The desert locale means there can be days when a zephyr of wind blows. At other times breezes easily exceed 40-50 mph -- mandating maximum shotmaking dexterity. Depending on the time of year you can have vast range of temperatures -- particularly during summer months when playing in 100+ degrees Fahrenheit is a daily event.
Wolf Creek is a steady diet of risk/reward type holes with a punishing desert landscape fully capable in swallowing errant golf balls. As I said at the outset the thrills you get at Wolf Creek is equivalent to watching Indiana Jones escape one harrowing situation and then finding himself smack dab into the next. There's sufficient room in the fairways but the line of attack one decides in taking is what sets things in motion. No doubt purists will find desert golf rather bizarre given the reality that such an artificial location begets design elements totally created by man to be included.
To borrow a famous line from one of Clint Eastwood's movies -- "A man's got to know his limitations" when playing Wolf Creek. False bravado will not impress the course one iota -- it will simply empty your golf bag of balls for foolish plays that have little or no chance in succeeding.
Wolf Creek starts with a good opening par-5. If the breeze is behind the player out of the southwest it's possible the strongest of players can reach the hole in two shots but the second will need to be laser-like in accuracy as the green is particularly narrow and well protected.
When you reach the 2nd hole -- you experience the first of a number of risk/reward type holes. You commence from an extremely elevated platform -- look west to the horizon and you'll see Moapa Peak in the nearby distance. Strong players can attempt to cut as much as they can stomach on this dog-leg left. Even if you lay-up the shot is fraught with danger if too strong. There's plenty to think about on this hole and the rewards are provided only with total commitment to the line of attack you ultimately choose.
One of the strangest holes comes at the 227-yard par-3 3rd. The hole goes literally straight up -- adding 2-3 clubs is often the best choice. To be charitable -- the hole is utterly bizarre.
The 4th, 5th and 7th all present clear risk/reward opportunities. Playing aggressively can reap big time gains if the execution is present. Fail to do so and the scorecard will include some hefty numbers.
The 6th is a quality par-4 -- a creek crosses the fairway and the green is solidly contoured for only the finest of approaches.
The key hole on the front side is how well one handles the long par-3 8th. Playing usually into the prevailing wind the hole has little margin for error. Water takes up three sides of the green with only a bit of room on the right. If the hole is played at the 150-yard tee the hole is eminently playable and frankly that's where 95% of the people should play. The back tee at just under 250 yards is only for those who are legitimate very low handicaps. If there was more bailout room -- especially to the right -- that would be fine. If played poorly from the tips the 8th will inflict mega punishment. Like I said -- the key is the tee location chosen.
The inward half of holes starts with a long par-4 that's quite strong. The par-3 11th plays into a box canyon green site and is impacted because of the elevated tee. The par-5 12th is a superb hole -- downhill off the tee from another elevated tee. Water left is in play for stronger hitters. If one shapes a right-to-left ball flight and catches the downslope you'll gain hefty yardage. The green is one of the best on the course -- narrow in front and even narrower the deeper the pin is placed. Making birdie here is no small feat.
The 13th is a short par-4 that dog-legs right with desert awaiting those who fail to clear the debris on that side. The smart play is playing the hole honestly.
The par-4 14th is the toughest two-shot holes at Wolf Creek -- turning left in the drive zone and protected by several bunkers on that side. The fairway is split between a lower and upper level with a strip of rough grass serving as a separator. The green is set on an angle and if the pin is placed in either the very front or rear areas presents a real challenge to get close. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the hole is usually into the wind which means solid ball striking is a must.
The par-3 15th is the shortest par-3 on the course. Playing normally into the wind the pressure to select the right club is critical. When the pin is placed in the far rear area it takes a courageous shot to get that far back. Desert encroaches from the right and a bunker hangs near the left side.
When you get to the par-4 16th -- you face a daunting tee shot -- back into the prevailing wind and what appears to be a very narrow landing area. There's sufficient room but the appearance of disaster either right or left can certainly play mind games with a player not fully committed to one's tee shot.
The 17th is another quality risk/reward hole. The tee shot that can stay as close to the left side as possible without being pulled or hooked can shorten the 2nd shot considerably. Those in position to go for the green will need to carry a water hazard that must be carried. When the pin is cut to the front it takes a bold play to get near it.
The closing hole is a bit anti-climatic. A rather pedestrian short par-4 and I've never been enamored with the garish waterfall feature to the left of the green. Chalk it up to Vegas / Nevada overkill.
Wolf Creek clearly pushes emotional buttons. As I said at the outset -- purists who favor golf in a prescribed manner will pan the course as being an 18-hole freak show. Not every hole at Wolf Creek works well but the shots and holes that do deliver are ones you'll long remember. Last I checked -- memorability is one of the key attributes when golf courses are discussed.
For the first time visitor the sweeping desert vistas and the landscape Wolf Creek provides will certainly be breathtaking in its scope. Fun golf is certainly present and for some it won't matter that they lost a number of golf balls in the process. I will say this in conclusion - a daily dosage of Wolf Creek would likely mean a good number opting to take up tennis or scheduling a visit to the psychiatrist.
Nonetheless, the thrill of pulling off a shot at Wolf Creek is totally exhilarating. Forget the scorecard -- relish the moments encountered. Just be sure to have plenty of popcorn!
The test at Wolf Creek is keeping yourself grounded on what one can and cannot achieve. I have played the course about a half a dozen times over the years and in those visits I've talked with many people who played the course and they enjoyed it -- although more than a few got butt-kicked big time. These same people also mentioned that any shot they attempted beyond their capabilities was treated swiftly and equally -- with certain punishment. No less than what one experiences at Pine Valley, Oakmont or Carnoustie.
Before anyone suggests I am linking Wolf Creek to those stellar courses -- I am not. I accept Wolf Creek for being a truly entertaining diversion -- like the Indiana Jones movies which were more about providing chills and goose bumps rather than being seen as Oscar contenders. Life is too short without a bit of grand adventure -- Wolf Creek is certainly that. Just be sure to hold onto one's hat and golf balls!
by M. James Ward
I've now played more than half of the top 100 courses in England, and this beats every single one of them. The golf course is simply incredible.
Every single hole offers something different with incredible views included.
Conditioning wise, the greens were like glass and the rest of the course was immaculate.
With the exception of the 8th, I would say that the par3s are the weaker part of the course.
I'm not normally a fan of buggy golf, but this is he exception.