The Club at Sunrise offers new golf on an old course

An old golf course in Las Vegas has reopened in Las Vegas. Or, there is a newly renovated golf course in Las Vegas. Better yet, there is a new golf course in Las Vegas. I like a “new” golf course has opened in Las Vegas.

In summer 2012, a devastating storm pounded east Las Vegas and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses. One of those businesses was Desert Rose Golf Course, where an under-manned flood channel allowed raging waters to ravage the course.

Gallantly, club officials reopened the course. Player reviews were brutal. The course ultimately closed in spring 2013. A major revamp was needed.

The Regional Flood Control District moved up plans to enlarge the too-small flood channel. The construction plan also included upgrading the damaged golf course. Now, four years later, with newly designed holes, a new clubhouse, restaurant and a new name, The Club at Sunrise, 5483 Club House Drive, is welcoming golfers back to the facility.

Clark County owns the course through the Parks and Recreation department. The county recently hired Kemper Sports to manage the facility. Matt Kalbak, PGA General Manager, runs the place.

“This was a $150 million project to construct a flood control channel and rebuild the golf course. The Regional Flood Control District, the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) all worked together on the project. Golf course architect Randy Heckenkemper designed the new layout and changed many holes,” Kalbak said.

“They took out over half a million cubic feet of soil inside the golf course to create a natural flood channel. The new course sits at 6,503 yards and is now a par 72 from a par 71. Substantial changes were made to several holes. No. 5 used to be a par 3. It’s now a risk/reward 250-yard par 4. No. 10 is now a 359-yard dogleg left. No. 18 gets a second shot reward shot over the wash to an elevated green. The new flood control channel shifted all fairway centers 30 to 40 yards to the right, increasing the setback for the homeowners. Less errant shots and golf balls in the yards. The course has a golf links feel to it now.”

The new construction isn’t evident until the fourth hole. The course layout is basically up and back. The new channel is in the center of the up and back holes. And it’s huge. My estimate is the channel is 150 feet wide and 30 feet deep. Picture a humongous, deep trench running down the middle of the course with holes on each side. Even though there are minimal hazards on the course, an accurate tee shot is mandated off the tees. Desert landscaping near the homes offer some challenges. But putting a drive toward the flood channel will find you setting up on a steep incline or seeing your ball bob down the channel.

With straight tee shots, you can score on this course. One of my playing partners remarked that the greens are what green should be. Good rolls and predictable lines added to a string of two putts.

One thing we all noticed was the distances between tee boxes. Tee boxes are four deep, the black, the gold, the silver and the bronze. Most notable are the boxes on hole No. 4. The black plays 596 yards, and the bronze plays 410 yards. Be careful when making bets if not all are playing at the same skill level.

The play was very enjoyable and the pace of play was good. We finished in just under three and a half hours.

The new clubhouse includes the Winterwood Grille, the pro shop and a substantial outdoor seating area overlooking the course. The current golf special includes a round of golf, cart, bottled water and a $10 food and beverage credit at the grill for $39.

The Club at Sunrise is well worth the trip, not just for the golf but to see what a $150 million project looks like. And for you history buffs, The Club at Sunrise was the fifth golf course to open in Las Vegas as the Winterwood Golf Club in 1964. New owners changed the name to Desert Rose Golf Club in 1983.

So it’s not really a new golf course, but it is. Enjoy.

John Asay is an award winning golf writer and contributing writer to View, Luxury Las Vegas Magazine and to

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