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No fool's gold: Ranking Nevada's top golf resorts

By Chris Baldwin, Contributor

LAS VEGAS - Every hotel within 100 miles of the Strip bills itself as a Las Vegas golf resort. Most of the big-name casinos have their own lobby golf concierge (whose advice is often anything but unbiased). Even the cabbies are eager to tell you where to golf.

Reflection Bay - Lake Las Vegas - top Nevada golf resorts -
Lake Las Vegas is an oasis of golf and sophistication only 25 minutes from the Strip.
Reflection Bay - Lake Las Vegas - top Nevada golf resorts -Primm - Tom Fazio golf courses - Las Vegas, Nevada areaWolf Creek Golf Club - Mesquite, Nevada - golf resort

But for all this golf in your face, true golf resorts are rare in Nevada. Florida and Arizona outclass the Silver State when it comes to the traditional high-end place with a golf course or two right outside your hotel window.

That's not say Nevada lacks great places to stay and play. It just takes a little more research to separate the worthy ones from the cast of pretenders. When it comes to golf resorts here, there are definite differences in quality across the board.

"There are golf resorts where the hotel room looks like something you saw on Robin Leach's old show, and then there are the places with just really good golf," regular Nevada golfer Dave Shadrick said.

TravelGolf.com cuts through the clutter and the claims to give you the best of the best. After all, who wants to gamble on the quality of their golf vacation?

1) Lake Las Vegas: A sprawling community where the rich live (Celine Dion has a mansion here) and anyone can play, Lake Las Vegas offers both easy access to the Strip (a 25-minute drive away) and an escape from the neon rumble.

With a Jack Nicklaus golf course along the lake (Reflection Bay) and an even better Tom Weiskopf track that takes you up into sky-scraping rocks (The Falls), it's hard to beat the golf here. When the long-awaited, Tom Fazio-designed Rainbow Canyon opens, it figures to be near impossible.

Add in an alpine-modeled village with Hyatt Regency Ritz Carlton as your lodging options and you may never even feel the need to hit the Strip.

2) JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa: Another off-Strip property, the JW Marriott is the rare Las Vegas resort where golf is truly king. There are a good 10 courses within about 10 minutes of this sprawling complex, which big plush rooms, 3,000 trees on the grounds and a large, surprisingly happening casino.

The best of the nearby golf is TPC Canyons. The best thing about staying here is you're actually encouraged to breathe real fresh air. In Vegas.

3) Wynn Las Vegas: The new trendsetter in ultra-high-end casinos, the Wynn is also the only hotel on the Strip with its own golf course. The Tom Fazio design is right behind the mega-resort but still maintains an air of mystery, with photos discouraged and huge walls keeping commoners from catching a view.

It's costs $500 to play and isn't as good as Fazio's high-roller legend Shadow Creek and if you have the cash to live large, the Wynn course can't be beat for convenient showiness.

4) Wolf Creek Golf Club and Eureka Casino: This combo would rank even higher if the Eureka's rooms were a little nicer and there was more to do in Mesquite. But the golf is second to none.

Wolf Creek topped TravelGolf.com's 2006 Las Vegas top 10. This is truly a course you've never seen the likes of before, with elevated tees that seem to bump the clouds and plenty of chances to watch your ball sail into blue sky.

Eureka's no high-end resort, though. It's more like a Hampton Inn, the kind of place you've seen, and stayed in, many times before.

5) Peppermill Reno Hotel Casino: The best casino in Reno is also the best base for a little-city golf trip, with easy access to courses like ArrowCreek Country Club and LakeRidge.

It's not even a stretch to make it some of the Lake Tahoe wonders like Edgewood Tahoe. But a huge mirrored room with a Jacuzzi and full counter bar, often for less than $100, might keep you from wanting to stray too far.

6) Primm Valley Resort & Casino: Out near the California border, about 45 minutes from Vegas and not far from a prison, Primm is about the last place you'd expect to stumble across two good Fazio courses. But here they are, rising out of the desert, along with a big, old-school casino complex that includes a roller coaster and an outlet mall.

Chris BaldwinChris Baldwin, Contributor

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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Dates: December 8, 2017 - April 30, 2018
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