(By Jim Allen – Anaheim Hills, CA ) … When talking about outstanding buddy golf trip destinations, places like Myrtle Beach, Bandon Dunes, Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and Arizona will probably be mentioned before Mesquite, Nevada. However, it may be time to reconsider that statement because in our opinion, there needs to be a new member added to that list. And not just for sake of adding a name, but to let the masses know that Mesquite is a value-added destination featuring qualify golf and service. Mesquite, the red headed step child of its big brother Las Vegas 80 miles to the west, is probably the hidden treasure in the bunch because besides golf, drinking and gambling, there isn’t much to do in Mesquite except golf, drinking, and gambling. That means they are really good at facilitating all three.
Golfest 2015 invaded this golf mecca on our annual golf blitz extravaganza. It served up five of the seven courses in the immediate area and we were very impressed with the results. This included 18 holes at Falcon Ridge Golf Course, the Oasis Palmer and Canyon Courses, Wolf Creek Golf Club, and the Casablanca Golf Course. The Casablanca Resort-Casino served as our basecamp which allowed us to enjoy the complete golf, drinking, and gambling experience. From a travel standpoint, it meant that none of the courses were more than five-minute drive from our room or lucky blackjack table. It also allowed us to keep tabs on all of the college football, NFL, and MLB Playoff scores on one of the many screens in the casino. Here is a rundown from each golf course:
Falcon Ridge Golf Course: Everyone was keeping an eye on their weather apps on the drive out to Mesquite. The only thing that could possible dampen Golfest Mesquite was wet weather and the chances of rain was very high for the entire weekend. With gray threatening skies throughout the valley before our 12:30 p.m. tee time, we were making sure our rain gear was ready to be rolled out at a moments notice. However, the Falcon Ridge Pro Shop staff eased our concerns by saying they only get four inches of rain per year. Then that statement was clarified by saying they get one drop of rain every four inches. The bottom line is it never rained and the skies cleared up for a beautiful day allowing us to challenge this elevation changing track cut through the local canyons.
Falcon Ridge was the perfect preview course to start out this adventure. It featured a lot of forced carries, elevated tee boxes, blind shots and doglegs. There’s also a lot of water. For example, one of the more unique holes on the course is number 10, where you tee off from an elevated tee box over a pond, down to a split fairway cut almost down the center by a fast flowing stream. Assuming you missed the water on your drive, it still required two quality uphill shots to the green – continuing to miss the stream – to have any chance at a par. A par was a great score here. There isn’t a flat lie on this hole, and not too many on the entire course – which made it a lot of fun. By the way, it was hard not to smile at the $50 green fee – which was a downright steal.
Prior to the round, our group ate lunch in the clubhouse at Scotty’s Bar & Grill. The service was good as well as their food. Everyone got a chance to touch and admire the new GolfestUSA.com Championship belt. This baby features some serious bling and would make any MMA star proud. In our case, it was going to be awarded to the low score (adjusted) of the three rounds at Falcon Ridge, the Oasis Palmer Course and Wolf Creek. John Lundgren determined it would look good on him and came out guns blazing and shot a 66 (adjusted net) to take a one-stroke lead over Golfest rookie Lou “Boogie” Dominguez. Mark Pickering was three back with a 69. Other Golfest rookies on this trip were Ray Merchant from Texas, and Californian’s Oscar Morales and Juan Carlos Serrano. Mr. Las Vegas Rickey Berger was back on his first Golfest trip since 2009. Jim Allen earned closest to the pin honors and Mark Suzda let his big dog eat to win the long drive money.
Dinner was served up for most at Katherine’s Steak House in the Casablanca, by far the best high-end steak house in town. As far as we were concerned, it was the only steak house in town. The crew even took the opportunity to celebrate Ray Merchant’s birthday with dessert and a rowdy version of Happy Birthday. Good times, even if it wasn’t his actual birthday.
Oasis Palmer Course: If you put the Oasis Palmer Course next to the Falcon Ridge course and asked which one would drive the higher overall scores, Falcon Ridge would probably win in a landslide. In real life that wasn’t the case as the Oasis Palmer Course took no prisoners. Only one golfer (Mr. Las Vegas Rickey Berger) shot a lower score than yesterday. And he did it with a brand new set of clubs that he bought two-days agao. Go figure?
The Palmer Course was a tail of two nines, with most of the front nine cut through the rugged canyon terrain and the back nine resembling a regular Southern California hilly course. The panoramic views on the front were just downright awesome taking some of the focus off the course. But in a subtle way, there was trouble looming in every corner in the form of rolling hills, thick rough, and lots of water hazards and bunkers. Hitting the short grass on the drive was key because the moist think rough was the death to most approach shots. One Golfestian, who will not be named to protect the guilty, fell over backwards down a ravine on the par-3 ninth while trying to hit his ball out of the steep side hill rough. Two complete heels-over-head somersaults. Only on Golfest.
John Lundgren shot an adjusted 72 to maintain a one-stroke lead over Mark Pickering who went low with a 70. Many others faded after a long night of the aforementioned drinking and gambling.
While most golfers retreated back to the Casablanca Resort-Casino base camp after lunch at the Oasis, the group of Utah’s Bob Potts, Ray Merchant of Texas, and Californian’s Mark Pickering and Jim Allen knocked out another 18 on the Oasis Canyon Course. Considering the $35 replay rate, it was definitely a cheaper alternative than returning to the casino.. We were the only foursome on the course and blazed a rapid trail around this 18 in just over 3 ½ hours. Although it’s supposed to be harder than the Palmer Course, all four scored well.
Wolf Creek Golf Club: Weather forecast for the area showed a 90% chance of precipitation which was threatening to put a damper on playing the 27th rated public golf course in the nation. Everyone was prepared for wet weather, but nobody wanted to be put in that position. We pondered the possibilities while wolfing down some hearty breakfast in their restaurant.
Shortly after hitting some balls on the range and taking the obligatory Golfest Mesquite group photographs on the first tee box – wearing navy and yellow shirts – it began to sprinkle some and on when the rain jackets. Five-minutes later, it was over as the clouds roared and rumbled across the Mesquite Valley. Mother Nature reappeared one more time on the back nine with a 10-minute drenching that had all players huddled up in their carts with umbrellas. Then just as quickly as it started, it was over. And when it stopped, the waterproof gear came off quickly because it was a humid 80 degrees.
A handful of Golfestian’s had already played Wolf Creek in the past, but it still delivered the highly anticipated shock and awe treatment. For the others, it was a surreal experience as this course has no equal. While you can bomb away on a few holes, it’s pretty much “target golf” negotiating around doglegs, streams, ravines, lakes, geese, hilly terrain, and bunkers galore. A bad bounce down a hill usually led to a double-bogey. There isn’t a flat hole at Wolf Creek and we loved every minute of it. While pondering which hole(s) to showcase for this review, I gave up because there isn’t a boring or bad hole on the course.
The thing that sets Wolf Creek apart from other courses is the contrast of the green grass and the moonscape terrain that it is cut through. Everywhere you turn, there appears to be a better view than the one you just witnessed. This is a highly recommended golf experience for anyone who has not had a chance to visit.
The staff at Wolf Creek should be complimented and commended. After the lightweight golfers on the course departed after the 10-minute rain delay, we owned the place. When we returned to the clubhouse, they could’ve easily said they were closed. Instead they kept the restaurant and Pro Shop open, essentially just for us. We used that opportunity to make it worth their while by ordering a ton of food, adult beverages and Wolf Creek gear. Ten minutes after the final group came in and ordered, the skies darkened, the DirecTV feed of the Chargers-Packers game lost it signal, and it literally dumped buckets. You couldn’t see 20’ ahead of yourself out the back balcony. Perfect timing for Golfest Mesquite. The Golf Gods were with us on this trip.
We tabulated the scores to determine our winner of the GolfestUSA belt. Those honors went to Yorba Linda’s Mark Pickering who shot an adjusted 69, for a three round total of 208. “Boogie” Dominguez shot a 70 to claim second place money, followed by John Lundgren. Oscar Morales shot the low round of the weekend with an adjusted score of 64. Closest to the pin and long drive both went to Mark Suzda. His effort on the par-3 hit the flagstick.
Casablanca Golf Course: After a late night of drinking and gambling – and a little NFL football – only seven of the dozen Golfestian’s actually made the call for the 7:00 a.m. Monday tee time. Some of them had hangovers. Some of them had a lot of money in their pocket. By comparison to our previous four outings, this resort style desert course was very user friendly. It’s pretty flat where a ham and egg approach works well because there isn’t too much trouble. Fairways and greens, fairways and greens. Once completed, it was time to head home to California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and Texas. Golfest had conquered the Mesquite trifecta of golf, drinking, and gambling. We encourage you to do the same.
GOLFESTUSA.COM is proud to announce that Wolf Creek Golf Club has been named our 2015 Golf Course of the Year.