Tucked in the foothills of Henderson, the private DragonRidge Country Club golf course climbs up the hillsides then drops back down, with blind shots and islands of grass amongst a sea of desert landscape, all with the backdrop of the city of Las Vegas. This course provides plenty of dramatic views, challenging shots, and a few perplexing tee positions.
A typical desert course, accuracy is required due to the limited border of rough before desert rock and shrub wreak havoc on a player’s scorecard. Knowledge of the layout of each hole can provide a cushion of safety. Aid comes in the form of the carts’ GPS yardage screens that provide the layout of the hole.
The first hole is a straightforward par four and offers a great photographic opportunity at the tees with the course’s namesake – a rock formation in the image of the sleeping mystical creature. The par three second hole has a zigzag of pathways to find your tee and then requires club selection adjustment for the drop in elevation. The third hole has a forced carry on the approach shot over a wash, be sure to confirm your ball – the fairway tends to be littered with wayward practice balls from the range. The tees at hole four allow the player to pick which iconic Strip Casino/Hotel to use for shot alignment, it also has a forced carry to reach the green.
The par three fifth has a drop in elevation and water hazard, with a two-tiered green – be sure to be on the same level with the flag. Hole six has danger on the right and a central fairway bunker that may be reachable for longer hitters. The seventh fairway narrows due to water hazard on the right, then climbs uphill for the approach shot. Hole eight has a mild incline, but nowhere near the climb up the ninth, making it a long par four to finish off the front.
Starting out the back nine is a tee shot with the option of a blind shot or lay-up to the visible portion of fairway. The hidden fairway is behind a pile of rocks visible off the tee, and offers a wide receiving area and shorter approach shot. Eleven has a trio of reachable bunkers that bite into the left side of the fairway. The par five 12th has a forced carry that John Daly ignored by using the neighboring eleventh fairway to reach the green in two. Thirteen essentially has an island green across a desert ravine.
The par three fourteenth has the money shot of the green framed by the dragon ridge rock formation, almost taunting the golfer who must consider elevation gain to reach the green. The 15th and 16th are a couple straightforward par fours that gradually climb up the hill, then the par three 17th drops dramatically to a protected green with bailout to the left. Finally the 18th has a split fairway, and forced carry. If playing long and well try reaching the green in two by taking the left spot of fairway, the right fairway opens up for a large lay-up receiving area.
This course may be a handicap buster the first time or two, but the layout and dramatic views are well worth the greens fees. The course has hosted Tiger Jam III and IV, as well as the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge in 2002. DragonRidge Golf Course is well described in this Alister MacKenzie quote posted in the Pro Shop, “A good golf course is like good music or good anything else; it is not necessarily a course which appeals the first time one plays it, but one which grows on the player the more frequently he visits it.”