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Las Vegas challenge: Five great golf courses for scratch players

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- All golfers are looking for that next great challenge, the chance to tee it up and be tested to the max.

Royal Links Golf Club - Road Hole
Royal Links Golf Club offers challenges you'll recognize from watching the British Open over the years.
Royal Links Golf Club - Road HoleLas Vegas Paiute Golf Resort - Wolf Course - hole 15The Legacy Golf Club - 9th holeDesperado Course at Badlands Golf Club - 1st hole

That's especially true about scratch golfers, and Las Vegas has plenty of challenges for even the best players.

Here are five Las Vegas golf courses that will let scratch golfers know how their game stacks up. You think there's a lot of gambling in the casinos in Vegas? Wait until you step onto the first tee of any of these beauties.

Royal Links Golf Club

At 6,810 yards, Royal Links Golf Club is the shortest layout of these five designs, but that doesn't minimize the challenge. Replicated from holes that have been used in the British Open rotation (including the Road Hole and Hell Bunker), players will soon realize that accuracy -- both off the tee and on approach shots -- coupled with a great putting stroke are the keys to scoring well. Add in gorse and deep bunkering, and Royal Links is a course with plenty of bite.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Wolf Course

Is Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Wolf Course monstrous? Yes. Challenging? Yes. Fair? Yes. The Wolf Course at Paiute is everything you can want in a golf course -- and more. At 7,604 yards it's not for the faint of heart -- or the short hitter. Move up a tee box or two if you're reaching for that 3-wood for your second shot into a par 4. And when you get to the par-3 15th, hold your breath. At 182 yards, it's not long -- but it's an island green. Add in a little breeze and all of a sudden the palms get a little sweatier.

Badlands Golf Club: Desperado/Diablo Course

At just 6,935 yards, Badland's Golf Club's Desperado and Diablo nines make up another short layout. What it lacks in length, however, it more than makes up for it in other ways (the main one being accuracy). Find the fairways and the greens, and you'll get the chance to go low. Miss the fairways and the greens, and you're scrambling for pars.

Legacy Golf Club

Legacy Golf Club reaches 7,211 yards from the tips, but it's the hilly fairways and mounds that make this course a great challenge for any golfer. Driver is the club of choice off most tees, but finding the proper side of the fairway is a must as bunkers come into play early and often. There are holes to post great scores -- with the help of picture-perfect swings and a little courage. The par-4 13th hole plays 324 yards from the tips. So if you're a scratch player, here's your chance to see what you've got. Just make sure to miss the bunker short, the hills to the right and the lateral hazard left. Or, take your chances at the par-5 17th. At just 515 yards, it's reachable in two -- if you avoid the water left and bunkering right.

The Chase at Coyote Springs

The Chase at Coyote Springs, Jack Nicklaus' layout north of Las Vegas, is one of those good news/bad news courses. The good news: wide-open fairways. The bad news: a 7,471-yard layout. The good news: receptive and true-rolling greens. The bad news: large, undulating greens that bring three-putts into play. You get the picture. Bring your best game and you can definitely score well here. Struggle with any aspect of your swing, and you'll find out what the term scrambling really means.

Don't worry, there are plenty more golf courses in Las Vegas that are as challenging, but these five are certainly at the top of just about any list -- especially if you're looking for that ultimate challenge.

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

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