The Takeaway: This course, located in the Las Vegas foothills, just 20 minutes from the Las Vegas strip is well worth the trip. The elevation changes are magnificent, with some great views of the strip, as well as beautiful desert landscape and a nice water feature that comes into play on the final 3 holes. Also, if you need some instruction (who doesn’t?), Butch Harmon, currently rated by his peers as the #1 Golf Instructor in the World teaches here. Grade B+
Designer: Rees Jones in 1997
Cost: $89.00 - $199.00 Click for current rates
Phone Number: (702) 777-2400
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Rio Secco Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 2851 Grand Hills Drive, Henderson, Nevada 89052 – UNITED STATES
Accolades: Ranked 9th in Nevada on Golf Course Gurus' Best in State list.
What to Expect: The par 3s are the highlight of Rio Secco. Each of the four one-shotters has character oozing from it. The third hole is an uphill play with elevated green, while the 6th hole contrasts with a downhill play. Then on the back the 12th hole is flat, playing over the desert and the 16th hole brings water into play. You’ll have to keep reading to find out which wins the title of ‘best par 3,’ spoiler alert – it was close. The remaining fourteen holes do not disappoint. The fantastic elevation changes with awesome views will capture your attention while the creative course layout and hole design will keep you engaged throughout the entire round.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 2nd Hole – 452 Yard Par 4 – The course starts off with a bang, with a gorgeous par four that doglegs slightly right which is carved out of a steep canyon. This downhill par four requires a 250 yard carry off an elevated teebox to make the fairway, there is ample landing area which funnels balls into the middle. Assuming you carry into the fairway, your second shot is relatively easy as the fairway continues to head downhill. To hit the green in regulation requires some precision into a small green with bunkers that collects anything that misses right or long. The contrast of browns of the desert against the lush green fairways is magnificent and something to enjoy for the entirety of the round.
Best Par 3: 6th Hole – 184 Yards – Rio Secco has you climbing up and down the mountain on the front nine so by the time you get to the par 3 sixth hole elevation changes have become the norm. This hole will captivate you right away, as you ascend to the back tees. The distance from the tips is only 184 yards, but with a downhill carry, it plays much shorter. Depending on the wind and the temperature, you could play this hole straight up or you may choose to take as much as 2 clubs less than usual. Danger surrounds the green in the form of the very unforgiving desert and a greenside bunker that protects those shots that don’t quite reach the green.
Best Par 4: 18th Hole – 448 Yards – When looking at the scorecard, you may think this is a pretty straightforward two-shotter, but the fairway thins out significantly at the landing area off the tee and the fairway bunker left may catch an errant tee shot as well. The second shot will require even more precision to hit the green with the lone water feature on the property left, and sand to the right. Walking away from the course while writing a four on the card is a great feeling.
Best Par 5: 17th Hole – 548 Yards – Another unassuming hole construct with subtle details that make this hole fun. You tee up next to the lone water feature, then drive to a narrowed fairway with fairway bunker close by. Even the longest hitters will have a hard time reaching this in 2 because of the desert waste area short of the green. Your best play for a low score is to play your second shot short of the desert to have about 100-110 yards into the green.
Birdie Time: 12th Hole – 172 Yard Par 3 – This uphill par 3 with a large, flat green should give an opportunity for birdie. It requires about a 150 yard carry over the desert waste area, but a large green catches most balls and, depending on the pin placement, you could find yourself quite close to the cup with an opportunity to card a red number.
Bogey Beware: 5th Hole – 405 Yard Par 4 – A sharp dogleg left dares the big-hitters to cut the corner, but there is risk. A narrow fairway, dangerous desert everywhere and a unique question mark-shaped fairway bunker all encourage something other than driver off the tee. The smart play is a fairway metal or iron off the tee to about 200, which will take the fairway bunker our of play. Then you’ll have another 200 to go into a small green with narrow fairway, bunker right and desert long and left. A five is a good score here.