Away from the Eiffel Tower, gondolas ferrying visitors along re-created canals of Venice and a Palm-fringed, half-moon sandy beach fronting a huge wave pool at a hotel named Mandalay Bay lies a lot of golf courses worth taking a punt on.
If you want gambling and nightlife the infamous Las Vegas "Strip," is the place to be. If you want some tranquility the Regent Las Vegas is located 20 minutes' drive away in Summerlin, a community conceived by the late eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.
Surrounded by the lush, green fairways of four challenging golf courses, with a serene backdrop of the Spring Mountains and Red Rock Canyon, the resort provided a refreshing contrast to the frenzied aura of flashing neon lights and slot machines offering million dollar jackpots.
Quality golf courses are being opened at a rapid rate in the desert and foothills that surround the world's gambling capital as developers - with almost limitless budgets - create lush fairways and manicured greens out of the scrubland.
Before too long, Las Vegas wants to rival Palm Springs and Scottsdale, Arizona as a Mecca for well-heeled golfers. Hundreds of trees have been transplanted across this vast continent and at Desert Pines, truckloads of pine needles have been brought from North Carolina to enhance the "authenticity" of the course.
Despite its name, Cloud Nine is actually a 12-hole golf course, each designed to replicate one of the world's most famous par-three golf holes. It took a little imagination to spot the similarities, but since it gets played mostly during the cooler evening hours, when it is cleverly floodlit, few players were complaining. Where else but in this city of illusions?
After a quick warm up here, serious golfers head for the challenging TPC Canyons, one of the top courses in the area.
Adjoining TPC Canyons, at Angel Park, are two rather flat 18-hole resort courses designed by Arnold Palmer and within a short drive is Badlands Golf Club, an excellent 27-hole layout designed by Johnny Miller and Chi Chi Rodriguez.
It is well worth taking the 30-minute drive along the desert highway to the Paiute Golf Resort. Here, three excellent Pete Dye courses – Wolf, Snow Mountain and Sun Mountain - have been built, at an elevation of 3,000 feet, in the foothills of the Spring Mountains.
The courses are owned by the local native Indian Paiute tribe, which forbids the construction of any private homes on its land, providing magnificent and uninterrupted views of Mount Charleston, which rises to 11,900 feet.
The rye grass fairways and bentgrass greens were in impeccable condition as I played among yucca and Joshua trees, surrounded by hundreds of desert wild flowers. Pete Dye's signature pot bunkers, secured with old railway sleepers, have been strategically positioned throughout both courses.
With long carries over water and across wide stretches of cactus-covered desert, Snow Mountain is not an easy course. Playing at this altitude, however, in such wide-open country under clear blue skies was an exhilarating experience.
The Wynn opened in 2005 and is one of Las Vegas’s most expensive courses. This heavily landscaped course features elaborate waterfalls and carpet like fairways is a surreal experience – surely no course can be this manicured? Designed by Fazio this layout certainly has the edge on the other layouts in Vegas.
The Strip lures more than 30 million visitors to spend over £4 billion every year. Entering any one of the dozens of casinos and luxury hotels in this 24-hour city is an alarming assault on the senses. There are no windows or clocks and oxygen supplies boost the air-conditioning to ensure no one ever feels too tired to gamble.
Sumptuous buffets offer all you can eat menus from as little as £10 a head while scantily clad waitresses dispense complimentary cocktails just as long as you keep playing the game.
Spectacular shows and musicals feature world-class performers while buskers and entertainers stroll along the designer shopping malls.
Heading for the first tee the next morning was a welcome return to sanity as I pondered just how grass can grow this thick and lush in the middle of the desert. Everything is possible in world capital of illusions.
Where to Stay
Staying away from the "Strip" is a worthwhile option for golfers as the best tee times are in the early morning when the temperatures are comparatively cool.
Traditionally, Las Vegas is a place where each new hotel has to be bigger and better than the last. The most exciting hotels on the "Strip" include Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Venetian and Luxor. With only around 600 rooms, The Element by Westin at Summerlin is small by Las Vegas standards but it is an ideal location for golfers. The ultimate luxury golf resort is the Wynn which has a casino and first class golf course.
For locally arranged packages and information check out www.lasvegasgolf.com
For accommodation visit Lasvegas.com
Where to Play
Arnold Palmer designed two challenging resort courses on this relatively flat terrain. The Palm Course is par 70 and plays 6,530 from the back tees and the par 71 Mountain Course plays 6,722 from the professional tees.
This 27-hole course designed by Johnny Miller and Chi Chi Rodriguez is divided into three distinctive par 36 nines - Desperado, Diablo and Outlaw.
A good warm up to help to dispel jet-lag on arrival day, this 12-hole par-three course is floodlit for evening play and each hole has been designed to replicate one of the world's best known short holes.
Designed by Bobby Weed and Ray Floyd, this par 71 course plays 7,063 yards from the back tees in the foothills of Red Rock Canyon and is home to the Las Vegas Seniors Classic.
At an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level the three Pete Dye-designed courses Wolf, Snow Mountain and Sun Mountain each provide spectacular views of surrounding mountains. Fairways are relatively wide with some tough water carries.
Opened in 2005 by Fazio, this course is not only the longest it is also the toughest in Las Vegas.