The Black Course at Bethpage State Park in New York has a little white sign that suggests the course might be more than some golfers can handle. Wolf Creek in Mesquite, Nevada, should post a similar message on a neon billboard next to the first tee: “This course might be too much for you.”
But too much what? Too much fun. At least that’s what I believe.
Many question the legitimacy of Wolf Creek as “real golf,” and I’ll give them one thing: It’s no Pebble Beach. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it’s loaded with somewhat gimmicky golf carved from the rugged desert landscape, but so what? Do you have something against wow factor?
I’m not saying Wolf Creek is a “play every day” kind of course. It isn’t. Not even Kenyan marathoners have that kind of stamina. But it’s definitely a once-a-lifetime experience (or far more that that if you’re a local or find yourself in Nevada frequently) to compensate for all the extremely average golf experiences that exist across the country.
Wolf Creek often receives — and many would say has earned — the kind of superlatives typically reserved for the best or most noteworthy of everything in life. It has the creative chemistry of Las Vegas’ popular Blue Man Group. It has more curves than Lombard Street, more rolls than Fat Bastard, the sanity of a schizophrenic and the subtlety of Charles Barkley. It has the attention to detail of CSI and the blinding contrast of Carrot Top’s face and hair.
Wolf Creek has the lakes of Minnesota and canyons of Arizona — and more collective wow factor than most courses you’ll find throughout North America.
So it’s a Bud Chapman painting come to life, you ask? Yes, that works. Except that Dennis and John Rider painted this impressive landscape.
Wolf Creek has tricks up its sleeve like Penn & Teller, the variety of a bag of Jelly Belly beans and more bite than the Everglades.
So what should you take from this comprehensive description other than, “Wolf Creek is probably unlike anything you’ve ever played before?” Nothing. That’s enough. That overlying truth is sufficient.
But that said, Wolf Creek is not for everyone. (Especially the very difficult par-3 No. 3 hole.)
It’s not for those handicapped by their handicap, those who have to play from the tips (the slope tops out at 154) or will fret over every stroke rather than admire the design and scope of each shot. It’s not for those with rollercoaster phobias (you actually have to sign a waiver to drive a cart), not for those on their maiden golf voyage and not for those who deduct value from a golf round as its cost increases. Wolf Creek may very well cost two to four times more than the courses you typically play, but it’s easily 20 to 40 times more impressive than many of those courses.
While I tend to be critical of the logic behind any round of golf costing upwards of $200 (unless that round includes lodging, a complimentary massage and a three-course meal), I won’t hesitate to concede I’d pay that to play Wolf Creek.
Surely, at this point, you must be thinking this sounds too good to be true. I’ve been in your shoes before — just as skeptical. I asked golf blogger Sean Ogle years ago what he thought of Wolf Creek and he described it as “tricked up in every sense of the word, with each hole more ridiculous than the last.” After three of my own visits, I’d say he understated it perfectly.
Wolf Creek (and the other great golf in Mesquite) is only an hour and a half by car from Las Vegas, a popular flight hub for Southwest (clubs fly free). And it’s also easily the most-booked course by the golf concierge team at the locally based MesquiteGolfCourses.com. And that’s because the value in their golf packages increases exponentially when Wolf Creek is included. Stay in a condo or at the Eureka Hotel & Casino. Play other courses throughout the area such as Conestoga, Falcon Ridge, Coyote Springs and Sand Hollow.
And then “experience” Wolf Creek, where the high-rolling is no gamble and the fun and beauty pay off in memories every time.