Las Vegas’ SouthShore golf club is as fine a nine as there is

Get this phone call. You think you have a tough go getting a tee time.

Caller: This is the office of the vice president. He would like to play your course.

SouthShore: Is he a member here?

Caller: No.

SouthShore: Does he know a member here?

Caller: No.

SouthShore: Sorry, he can’t play here.

Yes, even Joe Biden can’t get a tee time at the SouthShore Golf Club.

Turns out Biden did get to play that day. And as it turns out, it was the first thirtysome ever to play. That’s if you count all the security personnel.

No doubt about it, based on exclusivity, reputation and celebrity status, SouthShore Golf Club, 100 Strada Di Circolo, Henderson, was definitely on my bucket list of courses to play in Southern Nevada. Cross it off the list.

I’ve checked off just two others on that list: Cascata Golf Club, One Cascata Drive in Boulder City, and Spanish Trail Country Club, 5050 Spanish Trail Lane, nestled in the enclave of prestigious Spanish Trail. Sure, there are others: Canyon Gate Country Club, 2001 Canyon Gate Drive, on the west side of town; Shadow Creek Golf Club, 3 Shadow Creek Drive, the legendary layout in the northwest; Red Rock Country Club, 2550 Red Springs Drive, in the private, exclusive community at the base of the Spring Mountains; and of course, Wynn Golf Club, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, which just emailed me to offer a pay-and-play vacation for two starting at just $649. Yeah, later, later.

SouthShore Golf Club was the first Jack Nicklaus-designed course in Nevada. It sits only 17 miles from the Strip, but it could have been a million miles away for us passionate golfers wanting to experience it. Exclusivity is the password here. Twelve guarded and gated communities reside inside. Membership was expensive. Outsiders could only glimpse at the course from across Lake Las Vegas.

I received my invitation to play SouthShore from Mark Barrett, director of sales.

“We’re alive and well. People need to know that golf is thriving here at Lake Las Vegas,” he said.

Sure, the Falls Golf Club, formerly at 101 Via Vin Santo, Henderson, closed in 2008 amid the financial downturn. Reflection Bay Golf Club, formerly at 75 Montelago Blvd., closed a year later due to the same economic demon. Play SouthShore? A fashionable, private course — tony, unimaginable, enigmatic. A bucket-list course.

“Sure, let’s play!” I replied to Barrett.

The view from the pro shop was just a hint of what was to come. Facing southeast, the landscape unfolded for miles and miles. Lake Las Vegas was near-framed in the vistas.

The front nine winds it way through the 12 communities. Notable are the grand houses, each with a lake view. A golfing buddy wondered which one was Celine Dion’s crib.

But to golf. The front offers a multitude of challenges. Hole 2 is a downhill, 398-yard par 4, the third-hardest hole on the track. Accuracy is a must as the approach is to a small green. The par-3, 195-yard fourth hole requires a carry over water to find the green. No. 6 is a long 574-yard, 5-par requiring long accurate shots.

But the back nine is where golfers’ skills are challenged. It is indeed a tale of two different nines. This nine exhibits dramatic elevation changes as it winds along the edge of the desert. The three finishing holes best tell this tale. Hole 16 is a 212-yard par 3 over a deep chasm. The elevated tee looks down on the treetops and has a large green, a bunker guarding the front right of the green. No. 17 is a 381-yard par 4 that requires a carry of some 180 yards over another chasm to reach the fairway. The elevated tee meets you with a grand view of the area. No. 18, still perched high above the Lake Las Vegas, is a very tough, 433-yard finishing hole.

I would say that the back nine is as visually pleasing, challenging and enjoyable as any nine holes I’ve played. Period. That includes Pebble.

There are three ways to play SouthShore.

n First, become a member. It’s easier than you think. For a limited time, the $10,000 initiation fee is waived. The premier membership, with unlimited golf, a members locker room, access to all club amenities and other perks can be attained for monthly dues of $640, plus a $1,200 annual food and beverage minimum. Heck, I spend that much at the local PT’s monthly.

n Stay at Loews Lake Las Vegas and reserve the $299 I’d Rather be Golfing package and receive a room for one night and one round of golf at SouthShore. A second round of golf can be added for $200. Not bad.

n The third way? The best way! Once a month, SouthShore hosts an open house to showcase itself to potential members. Included are a facility tour, 18 holes of golf with a cart and a barbecue on the patio after the round. All this for just $75. The next open house is planned for April 25. You’d better be there.

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

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