A sight to see … and golf
Sunrise Vista dressed to the Nines
The views at Sunrise Vista are simply unmatched.
Belt a drive here and you just might forget to watch the flight of the ball if your eye catches the Thunderbirds in formation in the distance, an A-10 roaring down a nearby runway or an F-16 banking against a cloudless sky.
“You can pretty much see almost all of the aircraft the Air Force has,” said Steve Griffith, director of golf at the 27-hole military course at Nellis Air Force Base. “They hold different exercises throughout the year. There’s always planes taking off and landing almost every day.”
It’s a visual treat that caused photographer/plane buff Christopher Anderson and I to stop, listen and marvel as roughly 75 aircraft took flight during our round from runways perhaps 1,500 yards away.
“We hear nothing but good things from people who play here,” Griffith said. “They love the planes and they love the atmosphere because you get pretty close. And they enjoy the course layout. There’s some good par-4s, par-3s. We have some good holes that are really challenging.”
The course is “semi-open” to the public, Griffith said, “but it’s not a place where you can drive up and have public access.” Griffith suggests contacting the pro shop and putting your name on a list. The process of becoming an authorized guest generally takes about a week.
Green fees are more than reasonable at $28; $40 with an electric cart. Sunrise Vista sees about 38,000 rounds a year.
There are three nines: Eagle, Falcon and Raptor. Eagle and Falcon are traditional layouts – relatively flat, several dog-legs, plentiful trees and a couple of water features. Raptor is more links style with fewer trees and more mounding to shape the fairways and greens.
“It changes things up a little bit for those who play here,” Griffith said.
At 3,588 yards from the blues, Falcon is the longest of the three nines. From the tips the shortest par-3 is 202 yards, the shortest par-4 is 404 and the shortest par-5 is 540.
There are a number of memorable holes. Eagle No. 8 is only 135 yards from the back tees but obstacles include a rock wall and front and back bunkers that consume shots of inexact yardage. Falcon No. 3 is another scenic par-3, measuring 152 yards from the gold to 202 from the blue. A sizable water hazard awaits shots that go left and those on line require distance control to negotiate a severely sloping green.
The par-5 7th at Raptor has a little of everything. At 600 yards, it’s the longest hole on the course by 30 yards. Players must deal with several well-positioned bunkers on drives and second shots, not to mention water that comes into play on the right as the fairway turns gently back to the left. The side closes with No. 9, a 390-yard, dog-leg right featuring a lake along the right side and bunkers framing the green.
“It’s a pretty straight-forward golf course,” Griffith said. “One of the biggest selling points is the planes. You never get tired of hearing the planes or seeing the jets and different aircraft. I find myself watching them all the time.”
Nellis Air Force Base, NV 89191