Arroyo Golf Club (Las Vegas, NV on 11/28/15)

After a chilly round the day before I wasn’t too excited about fighting the cold again and considered spending some time in the casinos before my flight! In the end I figured that I’d probably spend more money gambling than I what I would pay to golf so I decided to add another course to the list. I found a deal online for Arroyo which turned out to be only $55 after a coupon! That is about half of the rack rate this time of year so it was as good of a deal as I’ve ever found visiting Las Vegas during peak golf season. If you follow my blog you know that I love finding a deal just about as much as I love playing a new course!

Arroyo is located within the city limits of Las Vegas, but it is actually 25 minutes west of The Strip at the base of the foothills. I believe the course previously was named “Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock” but at some point the name was changed. I’m not sure if the old name was too much to remember or if Arroyo was trying to differentiate themselves from Red Rock Country Club, a private course, on the other side of the clubhouse. No matter though as both courses are/were named after their proximity to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. You can do an online search if you like, but the area is very scenic. The conservation area is on my list of places to checkout next time I do some “touristy” things while in town.

As expected, it was another cold day and there turned out to be a lengthy frost delay. I got there about 9am, and before I even teed off, was worried that I might have to leave early to get to the airport. Free range balls were included which took some of the edge off the wait and the staff did a nice job sharing all the updates that they had! They even got me out early due to a cancellation and our group made it around in ~4 hours which left me enough time to pack my clubs, get some lunch, and return my rental car.

The maintenance crew also did a nice job. The overseed grew in nicely and the fairways were very full and quite green while playing on the firm side. I noticed a couple patchy and sodded sections, but nothing that affected my score. I was able to clip the ball without any trouble. The quick greens were a pleasure to putt and our group canned some long putts. Part of that is credit to the design though as the greens don’t have many crazy slopes. The greens are larger so you could face some long putts. The tees were an area that could use some work as they had lots of divots and some bare spots. I found a few bunkers and got some inconsistent lies.

Arroyo is an Arnold Palmer design and what I’d call a desert community course. The desert isn’t harsh like you’d find at some other courses with jagged rocks and ravines. Instead, much of the course is surrounded by domestic landscaping and crushed rock. That creates a desert look without a harsh penalty. If you go into the desert here, there is a decent chance of finding the ball, but odds are it will end up close to a bush. There are even some palm trees that give a resort feel to the course! Homes line every hole, but they are set back and blend in some with the surroundings. No doubt I would have liked the course more without the homes, but they didn’t spoil too many views of the nearby mountains. Considering the course’s location there isn’t much elevation change, maybe a club max.

I typically like Palmer designs as they are playable off the tee so I can track down a couple of my banana ball drives. I wouldn’t say the fairways are wide here, but there certainly is plenty of grass and bunkers to find a crooked shot. I played the black tees which play 6433/71.2/135 and could still blast away with driver, which is always nice when playing up a tee or two. Two things stood out to me about the design. First, the course messed with sight lines off almost every tee. You play over rises and desert bushes to the fairways, both of which partially obstruct the view. I found it visually intimidating and uncomfortable off the tee. I wouldn’t be too concerned though as the only hidden trouble are going to be some bunkers. The other thing that stood out to me was all the deep bunkers! I think avoiding all the bunkers could be the biggest challenge while playing here.

Arroyo gets the nod as another Palmer design that I enjoyed playing. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite designers! I’m not going to say that I loved the course but that’s mostly due to all the homes that surround it. I got a good deal and for that price I don’t think you’d be disappointed.

#1 (532 yard par 5):

The 1st hole is the longest par 5 on the course and gives you an idea of what to expect off the tee for the rest of the round! You’ll notice that the view of the fairway is obstructed from the tee. To me, it seemed that the fairway was wide, but bunkers (somewhat hidden) on each side of the fairway narrows it. If laying up then it is well designed as you can try to chase the ball as close to the greenside bunkers as possible to pitch over them or leave a fuller shot into the green. Favor the left side of the fairway on the layup because of the slope. The green is larger and is divided into left and right sides by a ridge. Make sure not to bounce a shot over the back edge as it falls off below green level into some rough.

1-1 1-2

#2 (397 yard par 4):

The 2nd is the #3 handicap and a hole where you are probably going to have to be careful. Depending on the distance that you drive it, the fairway could be wide or skinny. There is a hidden fairway bunker off to the left that is ~220 yards to carry. If you can carry it then it should be an easy fairway to hit. Keep in mind the hole plays uphill which will make that a longer than normal carry. The approach plays over a patch of desert to a green that is guarded by bunkers on each side. The green slopes from right to left and is another one where there is trouble over the back. If you are out of position from the tee, laying up might be the best choice!

2-1 2-2

#3 (171 yard par 3):

The 3rd is a pretty par 3, even without any elevation change. There is a lot of domestic landscaping and the green is framed by bunkers, which makes it visually appealing! It is also a bit deceptive looking. I thought the green was wider and not very deep. It’s actually the opposite setup as the green is deep and narrows towards the back. The right side falls off and there are some monster bunkers that surround it.


#4 (403 yard par 4):

The 4th is ranked as the #1 handicap and that’s probably due to it’s distance. There are a handful of other holes that I’d consider tougher, but this is the only par 4 over 400 yards from the black tees. The green sits a tiny bit off to the left which makes it tempting to challenge a fairway bunker just off the left side of the narrowing fairway. The green angles from front left to back right making a fade the preferred shape and it has a general tilt from back to front. You will want to carry the ball onto the green as there is an upslope short of the green. With all the greenside bunkers, missing short left leaves the best chance to scramble unless you are a great bunker player!

4-1 4-2

#5 (490 yard par 5):

The 5th is a short par 5 and a birdie chance, but you will need to know where you are going. The hole slides a little right and the tee shot, like so many others, has to avoid some large bunkers that are partly hidden from view. On the plus side, the fairway is relatively large! You can go for this green in two, but you probably won’t have the clearest view of the green because it is tucked against a small hillside. The layup should be played over a man-made gravel wash to a sliver of fairway with another bunker off to the right. The third shot probably will still be semi-blind into a bunkerless green that slopes from right to left. Try to be below the hole and not miss the green to the right as that will leave a speedy chip!

5-1 5-2

#6 (386 yard par 4):

The 6th is a segmented par 4 that is slightly uphill to the green. Depending on where you land the drive the slope can kick the ball to the right or left. If you are a big hitter you might check to see the exact yardage where the fairway runs out. The approach is over some desert to a wide green. The green complex shares some space with the 2nd green. It might have been the sun behind and the clouds up against the mountains, but the 6th had some of the best views of the day! On a clearer day you should be able to see the red rocks off in the distance.

6-1 6-2

#7 (186 yard par 3):

The 7th could be considered the signature hole at Arroyo. It is a long, downhill par 3 that plays from an elevated tee. The Strip is off in the distance, but the view is partly blocked by homes and power lines. It plays downhill at least a club into a green that is surrounded by trouble. Since this was my first time playing here, I couldn’t tell if there was any trouble short of the green. Turns out there isn’t and that’s actually the best spot to miss! There is water to the right of the green and a bunker to the left. I hit a shot from that bunker and couldn’t stop it on the green! Be careful here.

7-1 7-2

#8 (360 yard par 4):

The 8th is a short par 4 that could be a birdie or “other” hole. The tee shot should be played between two bunkers, but you can layup. If you are out of position off the tee then I wouldn’t be too aggressive because you could encounter some problems around the green. A precise shot is needed into the green because any miss to the right will kick into a hazard while and left or long risks going out of bounds.

8-1 8-2

#9 (341 yard par 4):

The 9th is another short par 4 that could be a good opportunity. All the bunkers are near the green and the fairway is generous. You can layup, but I noticed that the fairway gets a bit flatter the farther you hit it. If you miss the drive to the right then there are some mounds to deal with. The green is large considering the length of the hole and another one where you don’t want to miss long.


#10 (394 yard par 4):

The 10th is what makes Arroyo difficult, at least if you ask me. The fairway is wide, but I couldn’t see much of it from the tee box with the vegetation in the way. Plus, there are a couple ponds and I didn’t know how far of a carry that I needed to clear them! I still don’t have an exact yardage, but I hit a bad one (~200 yard carry) and cleared them. The ideal line is probably at that power pole, but there is plenty of room out to the right (although that will leave a poorer angle into the green). The green is located just over a patch of desert which could be in play on a miss. You will want to carry the ball at least to the front of the green.


#11 (478 yard par 5):

The 11th is the shortest par 5 on the course and once you get to the fairway there aren’t any forced carries. Most of the hole is straight, before getting to the green which sits a bit off to the right. I hit a good drive and turned that into a makeable eagle putt, so it is very reachable! If you go for the green in two then you will probably have to hit a fade from a draw lie. The green is narrower and playing from short left of it will avoid the bunkers.

11-1 11-2

#12 (199 yard par 3):

The 12th is a long par 3 that plays uphill. I’d estimate an extra half club should be sufficient. The green looked wide from the tee (and it is) but is angles from front left to back right. That makes it a smaller target than it seemed initially but if you can fade the ball then it won’t be uncomfortable.

12-1 12-2

#13 (393 yard par 4):

The 13th, even as one of the longer par 4’s on the course, shouldn’t be too tough to handle. It has an uncertain look off the tee, but the fairway is generous. Take the drive over the shrubs and swing away! The green, flanked by bunkers, is narrower towards the front and has a bit of an upslope short of it so the ball won’t roll up.

13-1 13-2

#14 (141 yard par 3):

The 14th is a brilliantly designed par 3! There isn’t any water, elevation change, or anything like that and it even looks a bit boring. What makes it brilliant is the green complex! The left side is deeper and is a small bowl. A lot of shots can collect there so if the pin over there it could be a chance to knock one close. The right side is a higher tier and more difficult to access. If you are going for a flag over there then you will need to be very accurate.

14-1 14-2

#15 (324 yard par 4):

The 15th is the shortest par 4 on the course and is ranked as one of the easier holes. Most golfers are going to want to layup off the tee to a favorite yardage before hitting a short iron over a bunker short of the green. If you layup too close to the green you could be playing from a slight downslope. The green slopes towards the back so you will want to clip it cleanly for some spin or land it on the front edge. A front flag, just over that bunker could be a handful! Some of the bigger hitters might try to chase a tee shot into the front bunker.

15-1 15-2

#16 (516 yard par 5):

The 16th is the #2 handicap and for good reason; it features some target golf and forced carries! There is a patch of fairway for tee shots, another one for some layups, and then the green with some fairway short of it. Off the tee, the carry over the water to the first section of fairway is a long one. Then you are faced with a decision about how far you want to hit the second shot. It is another carry over desert to the layup area which is semi-blind and quite small. It is the most traditional area to play to, but if you don’t mind trying to clear a patch of cleared out desert then you might be better off hitting a longer club in hopes of getting short of the green for a pitch shot. That’s probably dependent on the wind and keep in mind that the hole is uphill. The green is large so if you have a decent length putt then a three putt is a possible!

16-1 16-2

#17 (343 yard par 4):

The 17th is a shorter par 4, but there is a lot to it. The fairway runs out around 250 yards off the tee so it might be less than driver. Although, I wouldn’t expect much roll once the ball lands because of some uphill slope. The green is off to left so you can challenge the fairway bunker for the shortest approach. I added a club on my second into the heavily bunkered green which slopes from back to front. A draw is the best shot when playing the 17th!


#18 (379 yard par 4):

The 18th continues the climb up to the clubhouse. As far as closing holes go, this one isn’t dramatic or memorable but it won’t kick you in the face like many other finishers! Off the tee you will want to favor the left side of the fairway as the left side is the higher side and there is a bunker to the right. You might consider an extra club on the approach and favor the right half of the green. Some sideboards to the right and back of the green help feed shots towards the center.



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