May 31, 2007

Long Weekend

Scenic golf, affordable rooms are worth the trip to Mesquite

Golf Digest ranked Wolf Creek Golf Club No. 2 in Nevada.

Golf Digest ranked Wolf Creek Golf Club No. 2 in Nevada.

For hard-partying golf-trippers, it's tough to ignore the gravitational pull of the Las Vegas Strip. It has first-class accommodations, casinos, restaurants and shows. But what Vegas doesn't have—great golf value— is why you need to visit Mesquite, Nev., an hour's drive up Interstate 15 from Sin City.

The accommodations at Mesquite's casino resorts aren't up to the Strip's standard (think Binion's Horseshoe, not Caesars Palace), but the golf would satisfy any high roller. Start with Wolf Creek Golf Club ($85 with cart, 866-252-4653), which rivals Pebble Beach in terms of memorable visuals. It's borderline crazy golf—canyon carries, waterfalls and Golden Tee-like views of the mountains and plateaus. The Slope is 154 from the back tees, so you can forget about scoring.

A half-hour northeast of Mesquite in St. George, Utah, are two slightly less dramatic but more playable courses—the Johnny Miller-designed Entrada at Snow Canyon ($75, 888-876-6687) and The Ledges ($65, 435-634-4640), which was designed by Pete Dye's grandson Matt Dye. Both have wide fairways, opulent clubhouses and first-rate service, but what you'll remember most is their spectacular views of Snow Canyon State Park.

Even better, you can play all three area courses for less than one round at Las Vegas' glitzy Shadow Creek ($500) and blow the rest on craps.

Stay here: The CasaBlanca resort is the biggest and best of the choices in Mesquite, featuring a 550-seat showroom that books acts such as LeAnne Rimes. It also has a casino and sports book. Rates can be as low a $44 (, 800-459-7529). Across the street, The Oasis Resort (, 800-216-2747) has similar rates.

Eat here: There are three restaurants in CasaBlanca, but Katherine's is the best, with a nice selection of steaks and mid-price wine. Oasis' Paradise Buffet offers inexpensive dining ($5.95 for breakfast, $7.95 for lunch, $8.88 for dinner). The Painted Pony is your best bet if you want to dine in St. George. The menu is contemporary American.

Visit here: Go to Zion National Park, 80 miles northeast into Utah. Take the switchback road up through the top of the canyons for striking views of rock formations. Ted Allen's near the park might be the cleanest sports bar in the country. You have to laugh at the local beer called "Polygamy Porter," but it goes great with the wet burrito (covered in sauce).

Travel advisory: McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is 85 miles away via I-15. Regional jet service is available into St. George from Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Courses are open year-round, but expect 50s in December and January and highs of more than 100 in the summer. Visit for lodging and golf packages.