Life is filled with many “Do you remember where you were?” moments such as your first kiss, the first time you attended a major sporting event, or your first round of golf.
But when it comes to a round at Wolf Creek in Mesquite, Nevada you’ll remember what you did because of where you did it.
My first round at Wolf Creek commenced on a beautiful March day and concluded with our group playing 24 holes before darkness forced us off the course. If night golf was an option at Wolf Creek, we might still be playing there! Director of Golf and Illinois native Darren Stanek understands that getting groups off the course can be challenging for his staff as they just don’t want to leave.
“We are very fortunate to hear comments similar to this every day we come in to work,” began Stanek. “I feel that regardless of where you grew up playing golf there is nothing like playing golf at Wolf Creek. Personally, growing up in the Midwest where most of the courses are tree lined and flat, I had never experienced teeing off 200 feet above a fairway, hitting across canyons or just the beauty of the contrasting colors,” concluded Stanek.
It is extremely rare that a course elicits such a positive connotation as Wolf Creek does. A simple, “Have you ever played Wolf Creek” question will immediately be greeted with a smile from ear-to-ear as the player thinks back to his or her round.
“Our guests never let us lose sight of what a special place Wolf Creek is and our staff never takes it for granted. I remember one foursome that had a flight out that night but decided to play another 18 holes and miss their flight. They weren’t sure when they would be back so they made the most of this time,” regaled Stanek.
So what makes the outlying course that is located within a city of 18,000 people stand out with unabashed revelry? Jason Kauflin, the owner of Wisconsin Golf Trips, has held his annual Kauflin Invitational at Wolf Creek and sends many golfers from the Midwest to Mesquite.
“What makes Wolf Creek so unstoppable as a destination for golf groups is the pure spectacle of the place,” stated Kauflin. “Unlike any other course I have ever played, you feel like you have been transported to some other world while out on the property. And when you are with your buddies on a trip, you relish those shots, holes, and days that you can talk about and reminisce about for years to come. Wolf Creek is full of those moments, good or bad, and will almost FORCE your camera out of your pocket on just about every tee shot,” ended Kauflin.
But you don’t have to believe their staff, Jason, or MGM, as Wolf Creek Golf Club won the fans choice award by Golf Digest in 2011. They competed with such famed courses as Pebble Beach, Kiawah Island, Bandon Dunes, and Chambers Bay. Of the 711,697 votes, Wolf Creek received 48% of all votes cast to take the top prize.
Another cool aspect of Wolf Creek is that all facets of the golf world want to take a peek behind the curtain and experience the property themselves. I find this doubly fascinating since Wolf Creek is 100% public. “We are always working on something and sometimes with a course like Wolf Creek, opportunities just present themselves,” explained Stanek. “For the past two years we have had major golf club companies do photo shoots including one with Jordan Spieth. We also continue to be one of the most played games on EA Sports Rory McIlroy which I believe does a great job of capturing our course,” concluded Stanek.
Where some properties build to a crescendo on the back nine, Wolf Creek fires its cannons from the start. The 504-yard opening hole plays downhill to a luscious fairway and then uphill to a long narrow green. Making an eagle and being 2-under after one is a distinct possibility at Wolf Creek.
Why Wolf Creek is a legendary layout is due to its large amount of memorable holes, and the 429 yard par-4 2nd will take your breath away. A four-story drop to the canyon floor is surrounded by red rocks and starts this supreme dogleg left that finishes with a bowl-shaped, multi-tiered putting surface. Make sure to bring a laser gun or GPS unit to Wolf Creek as a lot of shots are shorter than they appear based upon elevation drops and the fact you are 1,600 feet above sea level.
Every hole at Wolf Creek has style, but some are more stylish than others. Case in point, the par-3 8th is tucked between two canyon walls, eliciting the feel that you are playing inside a cave. A small pond runs down the left side of the putting green and completes one of the coolest par-3s in the nation!
Darren Stanek takes my opinion one step further regarding the 8th. “Many of our guests say the 8th hole is the hardest hole on the planet,” began Stanek. “It is a straight downhill par-3 that is 248 yards from the back tees. With the elevation drop, it plays about 215 to 220 yards. There is water just off the green in the front left and back right with the only bailout to the right of the green. Once you hit that ‘once in a lifetime shot’ to the middle of the green you have to deal with a very undulating green. Aesthetically this is one of the most beautiful par-3 holes I have ever played,” explained Stanek.
My favorites on the inward nine include the 544 yard par-5 12th that features a downhill tee shot followed by an uphill approach to a green protected by a huge water feature on the right. The entire bank is shaved meaning that any ball right of the green will find a watery grave.
The par-5 17th is another winner even though it will require an approach over water to get home in two. This green, like many others, slopes toward water, so laying up and hitting your third shot on the dance floor is probably the safer option. The one pro tip I would give you when playing Wolf Creek for the first time or the 30th time is make sure to stay below the pin as often as you can. The putting surfaces are perfect and can get fast especially on downhill putts!
The splendor of Wolf Creek is on full display at the last, a 295-yard, uphill par-4 with a huge coulee in front and a waterfall that borders the cart path on your way to the green. A certain sadness came over our group knowing our round was over – that’s how powerful a round at Wolf Creek can be. Thank goodness their friendly staff let us play holes 1 through 3, and then 7 through 9 to put a capper on an amazing day filled with incomparable views, memorable shots, and ideal camaraderie.
One of the finest compliments I can give a course is that I felt honored to play it. Wolf Creek is an honor I look forward to enjoying again in the very near future, I am just grateful our group didn’t have to decide whether to miss our flight or play it again! For more information on Wolf Creek, visit www.golfwolfcreek.com