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Boulder Creek a challenging course even without the wind

I got the warning fairly early.

There it was: the highway sign, flashing urgently. High wind on the Hoover Dam Bypass bridge. Use caution. Ordinarily no big deal, but today we were headed to Boulder City to play a round of golf at Boulder Creek Golf Club. I knew what that warning would forebode. I was in for another bad hair day.

I had several notes from readers complimenting Boulder Creek and what a fun tract it was, so I thought I’d check it out. Andy Schaper, PGA member and head golf pro at Boulder Creek, invited us out to play. Andy set us up on the Desert Hawk and Coyote Run nines, explaining that Eldorado Valley was undergoing some aeration maintenance.

Boulder Creek is made up of three nine-hole layouts: Desert Hawk, Coyote Run and Eldorado Valley. Designed by Mark Rathert, all three nines were built in 2003. Rathert, by the way, was also involved in the redesign of holes No. 9 and No. 18 at the Las Vegas Country Club.

The Desert Hawk/Coyote Run is one long trek. Combined, the duo sets up as a 7,628-yard par-72, with a slope of 142 and a rating of 75.8. A quick look at the score card showed that Coyote’s No. 7 was a 635-yard par-5 into the wind — no, thank you. Considering the wind, our foursome decided on playing the blue tees. The setup played at a still-challenging 6,568-yard, 120 slope with a rating of 70.4.

Desert Hawk and Coyote Run feature desert and oasis landscapes. Both also feature numerous water features, sand traps and arroyos that run paralleling the course and, at times, at 90-degree angles across the course.

Of course, the wind played havoc as it rendered the cart-mounted GPS distances to the pin a guessing game as to club choice. I’m certain that, at times, the wind added a good three- to four-club difference to the shots. Among the many highlights of the day were the closing holes, the 17th and 18th (Coyote Run’s eighth and ninth holes).

The 17th is a 142-yard par-3 with a head wind. This hole features a huge lake that protects the left side of the green. Sand traps on the left and to the back guard the green as well. Here’s where more club is the right choice. The pin placement was to the left. It’s one of those holes where there is no chance of getting close. No one did. But it was loads of fun.

No. 18 is a 404-yard par-4. It has a creek meandering down the center of the fairway, asking for which section of the fairway you want to go. Once that’s decided, further deliberations are needed because there is water on the left, right and behind the green. Toss in a couple of sand traps and wind gusting 40-plus mph, and you just shoot for the center of the green and drop to your knees.

The 19th hole was heaven. Shelter from the storm: no more spitting into the wind; no more chasing hats across the fairways; no more replacing putts that were windblown — only the gentle breezes from the air conditioners. They were no doubt the coldest beers ever consumed by golfers — we all agreed on that.

We also all agreed that Boulder Creek was a pretty neat course, reminiscent of a resort course. We all liked the multitude of water hazards, the seemingly devilishly placed bunkers, all of them. And then there were all those evil arroyos jutting everywhere and at any time. Some of them blindsided us, but not again. We all agreed to get back there and play under more normal, humane conditions. Like when it’s 110 degrees with no beverage cart and no wind!

John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer. Contact him at jasay@reviewjournal.com.

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