LAS VEGAS – There's an oasis of green hidden among all that glitter and neon surrounding the Strip.
Bali Hai Golf Club is conveniently located right on Las Vegas Boulevard South. By stepping into Bali Hai's unique tropical setting, golfers are welcomed into an exclusive world where service and eye-popping surroundings make the greens fee well worth the splurge.
Bali Hai is one of three themed courses run by Walters Golf. It embraces the tropics, even when the desert temperatures are plunging during the winter. Canadian Dave Fowlie, of Calgary, brought a group of golfers back to play the course for the second straight year in November.
"Architecturally, they have done a beautiful job and with how they treat people," Fowlie said.
The beauty of Bali Hai lies in its presentation. The fairways are well maintained and shapely, often ending at elevated greens.
Framing all this lush turf are more than 2,500 palm trees and more than 100,000 tropical plants and flowers. Large, yawning waste bunkers filled with bright white sand and black volcanic rock outcroppings accent the scene. One minute, the golden Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino frames the backdrop. A turn or two on the cart path later, it's the mountains -- which glow at sunrise and sunset -- that demand attention.
Strategically, the 7,002-yard, par-71 course, designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in 2000, won't beat up high-handicappers, although there's plenty to fend off low scores. Seven acres of water features flirt with the lines of play. Streams line the right side of the third and fourth holes. A larger lagoon protects the approach on the fifth.
Bali Hai's 141-yard 16th ends on an island green, dissected by a severe slope, in the shadow of the impressive clubhouse. The round climaxes wonderfully at the dogleg, par-4 18th hole, a 486-yard monster that can only be tamed by cutting the corner. I aimed at the "D" atop the Mandalay Bay and ended up with just a wedge over the water to the green.
Fowlie said his group loves to place extra bets on the dramatic 16th and 18th holes. "I quite like the course," he said. "It is always in very good shape. It's green. It's challenging."
The 32,000-square-foot clubhouse continues the tropical motif indoors with an exotic fish tank, Balinese decor, the Cili Restaurant & Bar overlooking a blue lagoon and a golf shop annually recognized among the top 100 in the country.
Caddies and forecaddies are available, including the beautiful ParMates, flirty female loopers who will spice up any foursome. ParMates are only available at Bali Hai when paired with a round at Royal Links Golf Club, another Walters Golf property.
When taking into account the conditions, service, scenery and strategy of the layout, Bali Hai remains one of Sin City's best. It is one of the top resort courses in Las Vegas, bar none. Booking directly with Walters Golf and playing at off-peak times can lead to deals and promotions that make the round more affordable. The money golfers save on the short cab ride from the Strip only adds to the savings.
January 10, 2013