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Arrow Creek Golf Club - "The Legend" Course 2905 Arrow Creek Parkway
Reno, Nevada 89511
(775) 850-4630
http://www.arrowcreek.com
The Arrow Creek Golf Club opened in Spring 1999 and is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in southwest Reno, Nevada. It is 7,310 yards from the professional tees. "The Legend" Course is one of two courses located there and was designed by Arnold Palmer. "The Challenge" course is private and designed by Fuzzy Zoeller and architect John Harbottle III.

"The Legend" course has undulating fairways and a good number of white sand bunkers eagerly placed in strategic positions. It is a true desert-style course complete with natural vegetation surrounding the lush green, playable areas. Leave the fairways and you will be in a lot of trouble. The first challenge will be finding your ball in the shrubbery and rock outcroppings, and the second, if you find your ball, will be getting it back out on the course. Smart players will not even attempt to make shots from off the green but instead simply get it back to a playable lie.

The second challenge is determining shots to the greens. Many are elevated and not visible. Unfortunately the course does not provide you with a yardage book which would really help. The biggest complaint from the Phantomís foursome was not having enough information to determine how to hit blind shots. There are five blind shots from the tees and probably that many to elevated greens. Two of the foursome players were locals and one had played the course before and they still had great difficulty. Flip a shout out to them at http://www.arrowcreek.com and maybe before you get there they will have printed the books. In defense of the course they do provide you with a printed eight and a half by eleven sheet of paper as a playerís guide for the rust or back tees.

Even with the challenge of so many blind shots the Phantom loved this course. Unfortunately, the rest of the group was not so complimentary. You should be cautioned not to play this course unless you are at least a mid handicapper. You must carefully manage your shots. Conservative shots are your friend here.

The Phantomís favorite hole was number 3. It is a Par 5, 493 yards from the forward tees. This double dogleg begins with a blind shot with two choices from the tee box. Take a safe shot with an iron to the visible fairway or pull the wood for a shot over the hill. Donít hit either one too far or you are in Thomas Creek, a clear stream running through the course and coming into play on five holes. For the bold you can make a might shot over the creek and onto a moderately sized green. Miss the green short and you can roll down the hill into the water or lose the shot in the tall grasses. The safer bet is a second iron shot down the fairway to a closer point in line with the green and a third shot on. This hole can be an easy birdie if you play it right.

The tenth hole is another great challenge. It is a Par 4, 302 yards from the "Sunshine" tees also known as forward. The fairway is straight but the entire front of the green is fronted by a manmade lake. The distance looks easily makable but looks can be deceiving. Pull at least two club lengths longer than you would normally play to be safely on the green.

This is a full service resort style course with all the amenities including a mammoth 12,000 square foot clubhouse, pro shop, locker rooms and an outdoor patio area. If you need a little practice there is a double sided driving range, 18 hole putting course and a practice putting green.

June through September rates range from $80 to $90 and include a cart and range balls. October through December the rates are from $40 to $70. Reservations are recommended for weekend play and can be made 7 days in advance or up to 60 days with a $10 charge. If you donít live in Reno, your best bet is to book a golf package with one of the big hotels like Harrahís. Packages include accommodations, shows, golf and transportation to and from the courses.

Phantom Tip: Tell the course they need a course yardage book and give them an "ataboy" for their "Player Assistants" who are ready and willing to help you.

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Empire Ranch Golf Course 1875 Fair Way Drive
Carson City, NV 89701
702-885-2100
Empire Ranch Golf Course is located on Highway 30 East in Carson City, Nevada. Nestled in the Carson Valley between the bluffs and running along the Carson River you will find a housing development and 27 holes of championship golf. You will also find some of the nicest and most personable folks you would ever want to meet at a golf facility. This is where the locals play at an affordable $35 per person. This is not a resort course but don’t let that fool you into thinking it won’t challenge your skills.

As you enter the clubhouse at Empire Ranch take a look at the unique bathroom signs that say "PGA" and "LPGA" and then notice the pro shop list of rules and prices presented on burger stand signage. This is just the start of what is different about this facility. Next, you are given a starting course color and an ending course color. The 27 holes are broken into sets of 9 designated by red, blue and yellow courses. There are five sets of tee boxes ranging from black to red. And finally, the Phantom played on a weekend and found that whatever the size of your group, that is how you played. The course did not pair people into foursomes like most. Two, three, six players in a group; you would see it all.

Although the course raves about being for every type of player from the first time golfer to experienced, the Phantom would not advise anyone under an intermediate level to play here. That are far too many environmental obstacles to make this a pleasant golfing experience for beginners.

The marshes are prevalent at Empire Ranch. They smell a bit like a dairy farm, as marshes do, but t the abundance of wildlife and natural vegetation make it well worth a few unpleasant odors. The water doesn’t always stay in the marshes. Many times you will think you have hit a great drive and find your ball lying in seepage water on the fairway.

Hole number 3 on the red course was one of the Phantom’s favorites. It is a par 3 at 134 yards with the front surrounded by water and two pot bunkers on the right and two bunkers on the left. The card says it is the easiest hole on the course. That should tell you Empire Ranch is no piece of cake. Club selection is essential. Use much more club than you think you need. The front of the green rolls away from the pin and if you put the ball in the back of the green you are left with a frighteningly fast downhill putt. Another great challenge is number 15. It is a 293 yard, par 4 requiring a very well placed lay up shot to avoid the water hazard followed by a hefty shot to the green over the reeds. The first shot is blind and having never played the course before the Phantom says it is essential to follow the advice given in the course manager booklet.

There is a full practice facility and informal eating facilities on the course. The Phantom suggests you make reservations for Adelle’s Restaurant for dinner afterwards. It is a local favorite for more than a decade. The service and food is extraordinary. Tell Charlie the Phantom sent you.

For out of state visitors who need a place to stay, contact the Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-NEVADA-1 or 702-687-7410 and ask for the "Divine Nine" which includes a choice from 7 well located hotels and motels, and 9 different courses. Visit their website at http://www.carson-city.org 

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Genoa Lakes Golf Course 1 Genoa Lakes Drive
Genoa, Nevada 89411
(702) 782-GOLF
Surrounded by the snow tipped Sierra Nevada Mountains and a lush green valley is Genoa Lakes Golf Course and residential community in Genoa, Nevada. It is just a 30 minute drive south east of Carson City or one hour from Reno. Make the drive for a very challenging yet fair facility. Designed by golf pro Peter Jacobsen and golf course architect John Harbottle III, the course has been rated one of the best in America. Those familiar with Stevinson Ranch in California’s Central Valley will find many similarities. Men and women can comfortably place this course together since the tees are so equitable--finally. With two good shots by an average player you are on the green of a par four and with three good shots you can make the par fives. Now that is the way a course is supposed to be designed.

What is not so comfortable is the onslaught of miniature vampires, also know as mosquitoes. This is easily conquered by spraying bug repellent on the exposed parts of your body and is carried by all the marshals. It would help if the Marshall on the first tee would make it mandatory to spray yourself down before teeing off. Unfortunately the Phantom’s foursome had never played here before and didn’t find another Marshall until having played nine holes. By then we had lost a pint of blood and were making shots in between slaps and blows at the critters assaulting us. Once you get the spray on your body you are never bothered again and we all went on enjoying the course. You have to know that when you build a course that is environmentally sensitive, as Genoa Lakes is, there are going to be bugs. It also means there is an abundance of wildlife and water fowl which are just wonderful as well as the lakes and rivers throughout the course.

The designers did a great job of using the natural parts of the terrain to create unique holes. Most of the time when you play a course it has one theme running throughout the facility. It can be flat or have undulating fairways or it may have small or large greens. Genoa Lakes changes with the terrain and can at times look like you are playing a totally different course. The Phantom liked all the holes because they were so different--but beware. If you don’t play well the hidden bunkers and natural water will eat you alive. As a piece of advice, the first time you play here be conservative. Use the clubs you hit the best even if they are not the longest. Another tip is don’t over read the greens. They look like they have more break than they actually do.

Another unique thing about golfing here is, at a fee of $95 on weekends and $75 during the week, you can drive your cart all over. There is no 90 degree rule as with other resort style places. The cart is appointed with a laminated course manager which lays out the holes and gives you tips on where to hit the ball. Follow the book to stay out of trouble.

There are four sets of tees ranging from tournament to forward yardage. Unless you are a professional the Phantom suggests you don’t use the first tees. If you do, you will be uniquely challenged by hole number 13 which is the longest in the state of Nevada at a whopping 652 yards.

The last notable about Genoa Lakes are the contests they have available. If you empty your sand and seed bottles in fairway divots you are given a chance to win two days of golf and a two nights stay at the Carson Valley Inn. You also can get a free complimentary non-alcoholic beverage for merely completing a very short survey about your golfing experience at the course. These are great incentives and great marketing on management’s part. The club cleaning and delivery of your clubs to your car at the end isn’t too shabby either.

Get your soft spikes, remember the bug spray and sunscreen, and make plans to play Genoa Lakes Golf Course. You won’t be disappointed.

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Lake Ridge Golf Course 1200 Razorback Road
Reno, Nevada 89509
(702) 825-2200
http://www.lakeridgegolf.com 
The "Biggest Little City In The World" is becoming a haven for golf. Lake Ridge Golf Course is located just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the casinos. A local favorite for years, it is best known as "Renoís Most Scenic Drive". That is drive, as in driving the ball 226 yards over a vertical drop of 120 feet to an island green surrounded by a huge lake. Watch for nose bleeds at the top where you stand at an elevation 4,864 feet.

Lake Ridge opened in 1969 and has consistently been voted Renoís best golf facility for 10 years. Robert Trent Jones, Sr. designed the course to be friendly yet challenging. It is beautifully cared for and the personnel canít be beat. It is obvious that management takes great pride in being both friendly and helpful. The only person who seemed a little gruff was a Marshall the Phantomís foursome encountered on hole number 8. It is not always what you say but how you say it and nobody likes being overly chastised on the golf course. Other than that, the experience was delightful. The grass on this course is superb. It is one of the best maintained courses the Phantom has ever played.

Lake Ridge will appear to be very easy but donít be deceived. There are many holes where a simple shot can turn into many strikes at the ball. A number of streams and ponds meander through the course and where you donít encounter water you will find sand bunkers. As with any Trent Jones course, be it Junior or Senior, you want to play smart and not take risks. Lay up where you are not absolutely, positively sure you can make the shot to the green. The alternative is a double or triple bogey.

Green fees including a cart are $65 during the week and $80 Friday through Sunday. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be make 7 days in advance. The practice facilities include a driving range, chipping area, putting green and sand bunker. The pro shop contains a superior selection of golf gear with the Lake Ridge logo.

Lake Ridge is to be given a well deserved pat on the back for their junior instruction programs. They are inexpensive for the amount of bank you get including an entry in the junior club championship. Way to go.

Phantom Tip: Play this course. Nestled in the foothills with a view of the city and Sierra Nevada Mountains plus the added bonus of playing an island green canít be missed. The smiles and friendly folks make it an absolute, must play experience.

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Red Hawk, The Golf Club at Wingfield Springs 6600 North Wingfield Parkway
Sparks, Nevada  89436
(775) 626-6000
http://www.wingfieldsprings.com
Just to the north of Reno lies Sparks, Nevada. It is home to the well know Nugget Hotel and Casino and a myriad of other novelties. Even further northeast is a booming area for environmentally correct housing developments and golf known as the Spanish Springs Valley. Red Hawk Golf Club at Wingfield Springs sports 18 holes of pure Robert Trent Jones, Jr. style enjoyment. Beautifully landscaped and full of water and sand, this is truly a course with flair.

Donít let the beauty fool you into thinking it will be nice. The course is very naughty if you donít follow the rules of a Trent Jones course -- donít get cocky. Looks are deceiving. Seemingly flat with varying fairway undulations, just as your ball goes over that little crest and you think you have hit a boomer you are all wetlands. The course is surrounded with natural and low lying areas you canít see from the tees. A virtual playground for hundreds of migratory birds but not very forgiving for golfers. Think you can stick one on that kidney shaped green with the water on three sides. FORGET IT. As the Phantom always says, play it smart and use the irons. Accuracy is everything at Red Hawk.

This is the first time the Phantom has ever agreed with the course on which is the hardest hole. It is definitely number 3. It is 327 yards from the back, or as they call them, the "Swan" tees. There are also hawk, falcon and heron tees. This Par 4 winds around a manmade reservoir. The problem is the entire fairway runs down into the water. If you hit it high enough on the hill to stay, you are in taller grasses. If you hit in the narrow fairway you roll into the water. It really plays havoc with your second shot to a green with water on the front and sand in the back. When the Phantom plays this hole again it will be with plans to shoot for a bogey and be happy to walk away with that good of a score.

Probably the only thing missing is a memorable closing hole. The 18th at Red Hawk is pretty mundane. It is a straightaway, well bunkered hole of 321 yards from the rear tees. A little more pizzazz is needed.

On the other hand, the 19th hole needs no improvements. Freddieís Roost Bar & Grill serves contemporary foods in a casual atmosphere. Dine inside or out on the patio overlooking the 18th hole. After the meal be sure and visit the rest of the facilities which are the best Northern Nevada has to offer. The pro shop carries such a fine selection it was voted one of the 100 Best Golf Shops in America in 1999. Red Hawk is also very proud of their practice facilities which are abundant. The golf learning center is state-of-the-art and the golf school is now open.

Green fees including a cart range from $65 to $85 depending on the season.

Phantom Tip: Take advantage of the service. Red Hawk is surprisingly like being at a resort course however it is daily fee course. Enjoy the valet parking, yardage binoculars in your cart and the exquisite personnel there to greet you at every turn.

Coming next year, The Springs Course at the Golf Club at Wingfield Springs is under construction and designed by Hale Irwin. It will feature elevation changes as it winds through the foothills. If you can only afford one trip to Sparks wait for this new course and play both.

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