By TIM BAINES
Not far from The City That Never Sleeps is a little laid-back place that’s got some sizzle of its own.
Just over an hour from Las Vegas, Mesquite is nirvana for golfers who want to get plenty of bang for their buck — along with plenty of bells and whistles.
Awesome casinos and world-class dining are within Mesquite’s boundaries and if you’re flying in and out of Vegas, well, maybe you don’t need much sleep either — get out there and enjoy the electric and wild and crazy nightlife.
I’m still a bit queasy about the snakes, scorpions, spiders and other nasty wildlife that may lurk in the surroundings of desert golf. But, with a huge exclamation mark, I loved everything about Mesquite – the golf, loved the food, loved the accommodations … and loved the people.
Our Mesquite adventure was hosted by the wonderful folks based in Valleyfield Quebec, Gendron Travel www.voyagesgendron.com
Day 1 began bright and early on Canadian soil, actually involving a sleepover with me and my pillow at the Montreal airport. Taking advantage of the three-hour time difference I snoozed a little more. Our plane touched down, we hopped in a bus and headed directly for the golf course. I was ready to play — Coyote Springs was first up. Surrounded by tranquility we were playing golf in the warmth of the desert but I had to pinch myself to see if I was really awake.
With winter off to a horribly cold start, we Canadians were up for whatever sizzling temperatures Nevada could toss our way. One hundred-plus-degrees? Bring it on.
Fortified by deep white sand bunkers, the Coyote Springs layout provided a taste of old school with new, zesty charm.
There was good news for those of us who spray the ball off the tee blocks too — the landing areas were generous, but there were 11 lakes to deal with and the Jack Nicklaus design had more than its fair share of difficulties from 100 yards and in. Kudos to Jack.
“The conditions are probably what we’re most proud of,” said Director of Golf Karl Larcom. “And we’ll keep it this way 12 months of the year.”
Golf clubs were packed into the bus and it was off to the Holiday Inn Express and Suites, where we would park our pale, but reddening, carcasses after a day in the blistering sunshine. We were served up a delicious dinner at the hotel and managed to get some time poolside. Nice hotel, nice people, including the GM, Tav Terry, who joined us at dinner.
On Day 2, we took on one of Mesquites newest additions. The Conestoga Golf Course, which undulated through canyons and rugged rock outcroppings and invites players to experience Troon Golf. It was yet another challenge, not only on the course, but to drink enough water to combat the heat, mixed in with an occasional frosty American beer. Good to know, though, that 110 degrees with a bit of a breeze only seems like 90 back home.
Dinner that night, heavy on the wow factor, was at Samurai 21. Cooked up right in front of us, the food was out of this world — delicious. It was also a challenge in co-ordination as our chef playfully flipped portions of the food into our mouths from the grill. I can’t say enough good things about the restaurant — a real treat.
On Day 3, we took on The Golf Course at Sand Hollow Resort, its rolling fairways surrounded by natural red-sand bunkers and red rock outcroppings. Admittedly, I find any course a challenge. Given my fear of anything that may bite or sting me, I, by this point, had become increasingly edgy about chasing my golf balls into anything that didn’t look pristine green. The positive behind losing so many balls is my golf bag was becoming much easier to lift into the bus each day.
We checked into the Eureka Casino Hotel, where we had dinner at Gregory’s Mesquite Grill. How many different ways can I say “delicious?” Excuse me, while I go running off in search of a thesaurus. OK, how about “heavenly, tasty, savory, scrumptious,” or simply “yummy.”
On Day 4, our final full day, we tackled Wolf Creek, a fabled course so magnificent that it has been included in Tiger Woods’ video game. It’s not hard to figure out why after marvelling over it for most of the 18 holes.
“There’s plenty of cache in being one of the signature courses on the Tiger game,” said Wolf Creek’s GM Joel Villanos.”
The course wound up and down and all around — a journey through canyons, with its elevation changes making it wild, wonderful and unique.
“Any hole you play, you’d be hard-pressed to say this hole looks like that hole,” said Villanos. “We have a lot of signature holes, I’d say 16 of them. My personal favourite is No. 8.”
There’s so just much visual candy, with the course right up there with the best — courses like Bandon Dunes and Pebble Beach.
During our stay, we were treated like royalty. We met the Mayor and various politicians and got to interact with plenty of people who are proud to call Mesquite home. It’s those regular folks that make up Mesquite’s wonderful mosaic.
Thank you, Mesquite. I’ll be back.
If you’re looking for more info, check out www.visitmesquite.com