Striking Desert Landscape


Wolf Creek Golf Club:

A "One of a Kind" Desert Golf Experience.


Posted by: Rick Parnham


It is difficult to look at any of the plethora of "Best 100" or "Must Play" lists of major publications and not encounter Wolf Creek Golf Course in their rankings. The course was the first design attempt by Dennis Rider and since its opening in 2000 has been providing thrills for golfers. This remarkable one hit wonder is located in Mesquite Nevada, a once sleepy Mormon farming community that sits adjacent to the Nevada / Arizona border.  Now dotted with casinos this much lighter version  of Vegas is home to many remarkable golf courses, none more renown than Wolf Creek. 

Driving through Mesquite on I-15 the Virgin River Valley  and a beautiful mountain backdrop fill the eastern sight lines, while high bluffs and mesas frame the western vantage point. Tucked behind these barren sand hills is a golf course hard to describe. Many will know Wolf Creek from it being one of the course choices in most video golf games. That is how I first became aware of this highly regarded bucket-lister  and when a writing trip had me heading to Las Vegas and St. George Utah for a summer junket I was fortunate to fit Wolf Creek on the docket. Playing it for real in place of the countless rounds spent in front of my flat screen was a welcomed thrill.

Modern golf course architects have the luxury of using heavy machinery to fulfill their grandiose visions. However, for legendary architects  the likes of Stanley Thompson or Donald Ross, this rugged landscape would have struck the fear of God. Steep sided canyons, sheer drops and barren desolate desert mesas became the canvas for Rider to route and build a course filled with "Wow Factor." I must admit I am more of a traditionalist, valuing the gentle, subtleties Mother Nature bore and uncovered by the genius of those architects of yesteryear. However,  I do appreciate when modernists create something unique. Wolf Creek is definitely one of those special places.


Course Stats:

Par 72
75.4 / 154
70.9 / 138
68.2 / 134
65.7 / 125
68.4 / 127
61.0 / 106


The first hole gives a nice introduction for some of what is in store for the round ahead. The tee sits perched high on the edge of a bluff and plays down to a relatively flat fairway framed by rugged desert hillside on the left. A gentle par 5 opening, the green does provide an element of challenge wedged tightly in a bottom of a canyon and surrounded by bunkers. The next seven holes are the true essence of the Wolf Creek experience. Tee decks perched along multi-story ridgelines and greens set into bowls, deep chasms  or on plateau shelves being the destinations for par. Target fairways cut into canyons and along bluffs put a premium of distance control and shot placement. Two stand out holes are the short par 4 seventh hole which plays downhill to a plateau fairway offering two distinctive options.  One way to conquer the hole is to layup to the edge of the plateau in the fairway leaving a good level look at the green with a mid iron.  The second option is to hit your driver to the lower tier of the short grass and then having a much shorter steep uphill wedge shot to the wide shallow green fronted by a dramatic sheer face. The 8th is an exacting beast of a par 3. Stretching to nearly 250 yards from the tips, your tee shot seems to fall off the face of the Earth. The green lays tucked between sheer walls and a meandering creek.


Mind Blowing Setting

The back side opens with a most challenging lengthy par 4 followed by a stern test navigating over the exposed desert on the downhill par 3 and its hillside tee blocks. The next  series of three holes may be the best stretch on a course filled with 18 remarkable ones. The par 5 eleventh is a spectacular risk/reward opportunity. A gently meandering fairway sits between high rising slopes on the right and a turquoise blue pond on the left. Spacious enough off the tee, the approach becomes tighter as the long narrow green  complex sits wedged between two ponds and a trap. Number 12 is a short, ninety degree dogleg right, that teases you with the thought of cutting the corner by aiming over the high peak trying to reach the tiny, multi-tiered green with your drive. Based on the numerous embedded balls in the sandy slopes, the hybrid wedge option seems the more plausible way to attack the hole. The 13th is a lengthy dogleg par 4 which traverses a wide, forced carry  to a split fairway. The approach is uphill and must contend with a cavernous bunker complex short and left of the green.

One of the knocks on golf is that is it built on tradition and sameness. Wolf Creek has certainly shattered  that image with it daringly,  dramatic, design in the barren Mesquite Nevada desert. To the traditionalist, the course may seem quirky and tricked-up, but to the modern golfer, the variety of holes and the unique layout provide a never-seen before experience. Just approaching the 7000 yard measure from the tips, the course can't be described as a behemoth, like some of its contemporary peers, however with a rating of 75.4 and slope of 154, length is not the primary defence. The stark landscape lends itself to narrow passages, dramatic elevation changes and small targets. Accuracy in both shot placement and distance control is paramount in navigating Wolf Creek. That combined with one of the most visually distracting canvases for your round, makes for a modern-day masterpiece in design and experience. 



Wolf Creek Golf Club

403 Paradise Parkway
Mesquite, NV

Phone (Toll Free): 866-252-4653





























Short Par 4 #12























Challenging Par 3 # 8




























































Photography Courtesy of

Wolf Creek Golf Club