I’m going to post a few of these reviews out of order while I continue playing catch up. I’ll fill in the other reviews as 2016 rolls along! I golfed two times in Las Vegas while I was visiting family in California in November. I changed my flights around multiple times for this trip, but flew into Los Angeles and out of Las Vegas. Oddly, it was cheaper this way and the drive from Bakersfield isn’t that much worse to Las Vegas than to Los Angeles.
I left Bakersfield early on Friday morning for my 11:45am tee time at Coyote Springs. I said in the first paragraph that I golfed two times in “Las Vegas” but that is a bit misleading. Coyote Springs isn’t in the metro area, nor is it even close! Coyote Springs is north of town by about 50 minutes and probably equidistant from Las Vegas and Mesquite. You take I-15 and then get on a back road that is signed at 70 mph! The course is out in the middle of nowhere so make sure you have everything you need before getting off the interstate. It’s a bit of a pain to get to no doubt, but worth it because of the scenery that looks like a painting! An advantage of the course’s remote location is that you might be able to enjoy a faster pace than most courses closer to town. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case the day I played as we barely finished after a five hour round!
I’ve been using the term “Mid-Atlantic wish list” to describe courses on the East Coast that I’ve really wanted to play. It only seems fitting that a similar term, maybe “West Coast wish list”, be applied to Coyote Springs! Typically, the course gets ranked as one of the top public places to play in Nevada and is well liked by the golf magazines. I’ve had my eye on this one for quite some time and am glad to have finally played it!
Coyote Springs is a newer, Jack Nicklaus course that was built around the time of the housing crash (2008). The course was designed as part of a master-planned community, but the only thing out there right now is the course! I saw one home off in the distance, but I’m not sure if is part of the community. Lots have been graded, but no construction has started at this time. Apparently the economy and the legal issues have derailed the construction. That’s good for golfers as there aren’t any homes to spoil the desert views, but I don’t see how the course can survive long-term being all by itself out there. If you are considering the drive, I’d encourage you to visit Coyote Springs before all the homes go up (whenever that might be)!
I’d classify Coyote Springs as a modern design. The holes are separated so as not to affect play from others and the course has all the aesthetics that designers go for these days. Deep bunkers and plenty of hazards (more than you’d think for a course in the desert!) frame the green grass against the mountains off in the distance. All the different colors are quite striking and it is a very “pretty” course. I played the blue tees which play 72.0/137/6807 and found it to be a friendly course off the tee. For the most part, the fairways are wide which is nice considering that the wind was howling pretty good the day I played! Fairway bunkers and waste areas are going to be the main challenges off the tee, although there weren’t any shots that struck me as true “target golf”. Phew! Into the greens, controlling the distance and flight could be tricky because of the slopes in the fairways.
I was excited to play the course not only because of it’s ranking, but I typically like Nicklaus designs! I say “typically” because sometimes Jack can go crazy with the green complexes, seemingly losing touch with the fact that the average golfer doesn’t have his same finesse that won all those majors! Well, he designed plenty of wacky greens here! The massive slopes in the greens are going to be one of the things that I remember about Coyote Springs. There are random mounds and humps in the greens so the best spot to land the approaches is very small. I didn’t have any luck scrambling either as the best I could do sometimes was 5 or 10 feet.
As far as conditions, the course was in great shape! I didn’t notice any patchy sections and always had wonderful lies. The tees and fairways were full and cut short. The rough wasn’t too tough to play from, except from around the greens where it was thicker. Finally, the greens were quick and smooth. I paid $69 which was a great deal for a course of this caliber. Unless you just don’t like Nicklaus courses, then make sure to put this one your list!
#1 (374 yard par 4):
The 1st is an easier hole to begin! It is one of the shorter par 4’s on the course and an opportunity to get off on the right foot. It moves a little left with a tee shot that plays to a fairway that widens the farther you hit it. A waste area is off to the left and the right side of the fairway which has some slope that feeds to the left. I’d try to make any error to the right. You will likely have a mid or short iron from the moundy fairway. Most of the green feeds towards the center.
#2 (518 yard par 5):
The 2nd is the shortest of the par 5’s so you can continue the momentum if you had a good opening hole. Like a lot of Nicklaus holes it is pretty involved. The drive should split some fairway bunkers before the layup area gets extremely wide with water in play. If you are laying up to the right make sure to keep it short of the water! The layup area is littered with bunkers so you need to pick a line and distance. Depending on the flag location you might want to play out to the far left of the fairway for the best angle into the green. The green slopes from back to front so be careful with the spin. Playing out to the left of the green is a good option if you have the distance to reach in two.
#3 (185 yard par 3):
The 3rd is a tough par 3. It has some distance to it and water can come into play if you clank one or hook it. A draw is the best shot shape to hold the green. The green is narrow and has bunkers on both sides so short game shots will need to be perfect. Short and right of the green is the best spot to chip from.
#4 (420 yard par 4):
The 4th is ranked as the #1 handicap but I can think of a handful of holes that I’d say are just as difficult. The hole slides slightly right so a tee shot down the right side should leave a shorter club into the green. However, if you choose that route you will need to keep the drive short of some bunkers and prepare for an approach without much view of the green. The other option is to go for the higher, left side of the fairway for a better view of the green. There is a bunker towards the back left of the green which is somewhat hidden.
#5 (539 yard par 5):
The 5th is another involved par 5 and a bit of target golf. Finding the fairway shouldn’t be much trouble because of how large it is. The fairway does run out but I’m not sure of the exact distance. It gets interesting on the layup though as you play over a wash to another section of fairway. The left side of this fairway has a higher tier so you could end up with an uneven stance. The third shot is uphill into the green which sits at a harsh angle, guarded by bunkers. The bigger hitters can consider a long club for the layup and play short right of the green. That small section of fairway leaves a good angle for a pitch shot.
#6 (368 yard par 4):
The 6th could be a birdie chance but you are going to need to find the fairway! The fairway isn’t super narrow but the right side of the hole falls off into some rocks and desert bushes pinch on the left. The green slopes from back to front so try to leave the ball below the hole and don’t go over the green!
#7 (418 yard par 4):
The 7th starts a run of three great holes to close out the front nine! At 418 yards it is one of the longer par 4’s on the course but it doesn’t play the yardage because it goes gently downhill. The drive is straightaway to a fairway that runs out into a wash. It could be just a layup off the tee but I would try to get as close to the end of the fairway as you can because the green could be tough to hold. The approach is over the wash to a green that has two big ridges in it. It is another green that sits at a harsh angle with bunkers guarding.
#8 (219 yard par 3):
The 8th was my favorite hole to play at Coyote Springs! It is a long par 3 but it is downhill so you can get away with at least a club less, maybe even two as you probably want to try to chase the ball onto the green. The narrow green is semiblind and water is definitely in play to the right. Anything to the right will kick into the hazard. The nice thing is that you don’t have to challenge the water! You can play short and left of the green using the slopes to feed the ball onto the green. There is a downslope off the cross bunker and fairway over it which should scoot the ball down and right. I’d almost try to miss the green short left and you could be surprised where the ball ends up!
#9 (410 yard par 4):
The 9th is a pretty par 4 with a clear view of the mountains. It gives an idea of just how desolate the desert can be! Multiple bunkers and some water need to be avoided off the tee before a demanding second shot. The water affects second shots as it curls around to the left and back of the green. Anything landing to the left should take a bounce towards the hazard. The green slopes from back to front.
#10 (383 yard par 4):
The 10th is a harder ranked hole but I think most of that is due to the green complex. The fairway is different widths depending on distance because of bunkers on both sides. The approach will need to be very precise into the green which falls at the front and to the right. There is also a plateau in the center and lower sections at the front and back. Therefore, the first bounce on the green might need a little luck!
#11 (542 yard par 5):
The 11th was the course’s most difficult par 5, at least for me. The green is straight ahead but the fairway squiggles right for the layup and then back to the left near the green. Driving to the right side of the fairway leaves the easiest angle for the layup. If playing from the left then you probably will have to draw it or carry some desert. Make sure to factor in the uphill as I didn’t and ended up with a longer club into the green than I wanted. I also ended up in a deep bunker short of the green! You want nothing to do with the bunkers short of the green because they are well below green level with nasty tongues! The green is wide but not deep.
#12 (164 yard par 3):
The 12th is a pretty par 3 with a green that is tucked into a small hillside. The green angles from front left to back right and features more deep bunkers. If you are uncomfortable with the angle I’d suggest playing at the left third of the green as that will leave the most ways to make a par!
#13 (401 yard par 4):
The 13th is similar to the 1st when it comes to distance and direction. Depending on where the tees are located a bunker in the fairway forces you to make a decision from the tee. You can go right, left, short of, or try to carry it. If you can carry it then that gets you to the widest part of the fairway. I hit my drive in the waste area to the left and drew a terrible lie so try to avoid that side of the hole. Also like the 1st, the fairway slopes from right to left. The green slopes from right to left too and falls off on the left.
#14 (413 yard par 4):
The 14th, even though it is the #2 handicap, is one of my favorite holes on the course. The hole is a slight dogleg left and one that you may need to play a couple times to get the hang of. Straight ahead you will see a narrow fairway that runs out into some bunkers. That’s the line I picked and I hit a good drive. I got up to my drive and was surprised to see that there is fairway hidden to the left over a hill! It’s not the line for everyone though as it is a healthy carry and the hole plays uphill. The green is wacky and one that I’d like to see toned down. There is a valley in the center of the green which is where the pin was located. I didn’t see any way to get my putt close from a higher tier! Missing short and right of the green is a decent spot to scramble from.
#15 (345 yard par 4):
The 15th is the shortest par 4 on the course and another one of my favorites! It plays downhill and is ranked as the easiest hole so it should be a decent scoring chance. The fairway runs out with 105 to 120 yards left so laying up will be the best play. From there you can be as aggressive as you’d like on the approach. Water guards the green short and left but there is some room to the right.
#16 (578 yard par 5):
The 16th is a long par 5 but it turned out to be a good risk/reward hole because the tees were up. Water comes into play near the green and probably could affect layups too. Even if you cannot reach in two pitching from short and right of the green is a good angle.
#17 (155 yard par 3):
The 17th is the shortest par 3 on the course. The green is large so hitting it in regulation probably won’t be too difficult. However there is an incredible amount of slope in it so good luck two putting! Water is off to the left which will catch a hook.
#18 (375 yard par 4):
The 18th is a tough closing hole. We were racing the setting sun so I’d like to try it again as I made a mess of it. The fairway is wide and slopes from left to right so I’d make sure to account for a bounce right once it lands. Do everything you can to hit the narrow green in regulation because I had an almost impossible bunker shot from left of the green! I saw the water to the right and bailed left. Try not to do that as I had to land my bunker shot on a downhill slope to get it close. All too often the closing hole is a long par 4 with water in play, I really like ending with a mid or short iron though!