Challenging, but playable
Rhodes Ranch has golfers coming back for more
This well-manicured, Ted Robinson-designed 18-hole layout has a little bit of everything.
Located perhaps 10-15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, Rhodes Ranch has a resort feel with generous fairways bordered by side hills that often steer wayward tee shots back toward the short grass. Undulating greens and well-positioned bunkers, characteristics of a Robinson design, and water that comes into play on seven holes require thoughtful placement of drives and approach shots.
“Playable, that’s the main thing we hear from people,” Ranch Rhodes pro Shane Sanchez said. “Everybody loves the design, it’s consistently in good shape and you’re going to see some pretty holes, but it’s not going to beat you up.”
Winding through an 1,800-home development, Rhodes Ranch easily could have fallen into a cookie-cutter design with each hole looking like the last. That didn’t happen, however, as the course offers a mixture of risk-reward holes, from drivable par-4s (No. 11) to reachable-in-two par-5s that punish faulty shots.
The par-3s leave a lasting impression, particularly No. 3, which can be played from 107 to 227 yards to a diagonally-shaped green guarded by a pond and a cleverly placed bunker on the right edge. There’s a small bail-out area left of the green. Measuring 167 yards from the white tees, finding the putting surface is a relief and making par is a chore. We had a couple 3s in our group and we practically jogged to the next hole.
It’s an intimidating view from the tips with the first challenge clearing the hazard and the next trying to hold the ball on the putting surface after hitting a low iron or hybrid.
No. 7 can stretch to 202 yards. The greens on the back-nine par-3s are framed by water and both are in the neighborhood of 200 yards from the back tees.
“We definitely have the best set of par-3s in town,” Sanchez said. “No. 3 is 234 from the tips to the center. If that pin is back right, it’s close to 250 yards.”
No. 3 is generally considered Rhodes Ranch’s signature hole, but the scenic 18th deserves consideration. It’s 441 yards from the back tees and 376 from the white. Water slices through the fairway and collects long drives and errant approaches. The pin was tucked in the back left corner when we played, adding to the degree of difficulty.
“It’s a really good finishing hole for the average golfer,” Sanchez said. “They’re probably looking at a middle to low iron to an uphill green. It’s not easy.”
The front-side greens had a bout with disease last summer, but they’ve rebounded nicely. About the only change since Rhodes Ranch opened 15 years ago is turf reduction. The course, which entertains about 65,000 rounds per year, was originally wall-to-wall grass but now has large cutouts that not only save on the water bill but in many cases add to the test of a particular hole.
“It’s in pretty amazing condition when you think about the number of rounds, carts and divots,” Sanchez said.
The pro offered a few closing tips.
“We ask that people make sure to play the appropriate tees so they enjoy it because it can beat you up from the back tees,” he said. “On the greens, things have a tendency to break to the city. You’re kind of in a bowl in Las Vegas so the subtle breaks have a tendency to break toward The Strip.”