Perhaps nothing defines Las Vegas golf better than Bali Hai Golf Club.
It’s the only golf course located right on the Las Vegas Strip, and it’s a premium experience on an immaculately conditioned and interesting golf course.
But in case you haven’t noticed, times have been a changing lately. What hasn’t changed is the quality of Bali Hai Golf Club, a tropical themed, lush, fun layout that features the kind of service that’s uniquely Las Vegas.
This is a dream buddy trip destination that traditionally draws a premium price.
Why now is the perfect for a visit to Bali Hai
Fortunately, for golfers, there may never be a better time to visit to play the course or sign up for a golf package. The stars are aligned. With corporate travel way down and concerns in the last year over the pandemic, Las Vegas and Bali Hai are doing what they can to welcome back guests. If you’ve never had this experience at Bali Hai, which is located right next to the fabulous Mandalay Bay Resort, this might be the year to do it.
“The perception was that if you stayed at Mandalay Bay and played two or three days at Bali Hai, it would cost several thousand dollars,” said Joe Dahlstrom of Paradigm Golf, which manages Bali Hai. “But like everything now, it’s never been more affordable or accessible.”
In years past, the tee sheet was usually full at Bali Hai, with guests regularly paying a premium price to play there. It’s still premium, of course, but now guests can save on greens fees alone and maybe more on packages that include accommodations.
But here’s even better news: Las Vegas is still Las Vegas. Entertainment options are there, the hotel rooms are nicer and cleaner than they’ve ever been, and the casino experience, with safety measures in place, is still available to anyone who wants to make the trip to Sin City.
And this might also be the great time to fly. Airfares are cheaper and more flexible, there are fewer people on planes, and the planes have never been cleaner with enhanced air filtration systems.
“Shows are reopening,” said Dahlstrom who has worked with Walters Golf (which owns Bali Hai) for more than 20 years. “Even if Las Vegas has 50 percent to 60 percent of the entertainment open, it still offers more entertainment than any place on earth. The gaming is still there. You can still watch and bet on sports. You’re going to save money and still have plenty to do.”
The Bali Hai experience
Simply put, playing golf at Bali Hai is different than most high-end clubs or daily fees. It’s about creating an unforgettable experience, one that’s fairly unique to Vegas. Here, you can expect not only a great time on the golf course, but the service is also memorable, and it all begins when you arrive.
Bali Hai employs female greeters, who are there to help golfers settle in with any reasonable request. They set them up in their carts and help them hook up their phone to the JBL Bluetooth speaker system on their carts so they can have music on the course. Or maybe after the round, they bring a complimentary Jell-O shot while cleaning clubs. In short, golfers at Bali Hai feel like VIPs.
There’s also the Tiki Bar, which used to be the outdoor Cabana near the clubhouse and 18th green. Greeters can lead them there, help them order and just get comfortable.
“We’ve put in couches and luxury seating, and we crank up the music where it’s like a club atmosphere,” Dahlstrom said. “It’s been extremely well received.”
In addition, Bali Hai has brought back the Parmates service. For those not familiar with the program, Parmates are very pleasant ambassadors that can accompany golfers throughout their day on the course for an extra fee. The experience begins about 20 minutes before tee time. Once introduced, the Parmate becomes a golfer’s personal assistant who can call in food and drink orders, write down your scores or even help you pick out the perfect souvenir in the award-winning golf shop. She also can repair divots, fix ball marks, clean clubs and give you a hand with yardage.
In addition, forecaddies are also available and recommended to complete the experience.
“One thing we found, that no matter if you’re a CEO or middle manager who won a trip to Las Vegas, is that everybody wants to escape their everyday life and just have fun,” Dahlstrom said. “It’s less about your score and more about getting away from it all and having a great time.”
Bali Hai also offers a nice contest on the long par-3 14th. Players can try to double their money with very little risk. If they hit the green, they get twice what they bet (e.g. $50 becomes $100) in golf shop credit. If they don’t hit the green, they get golf shop credit for the original bet.
“It’s the only bet in Las Vegas you can’t lose,” Dahlstrom said.
The course at Bali Hai is just plain fun
Make no mistake, however, playing Bali Hai, even if you didn’t have all the extras, is a very enjoyable four hours or so.
The course, which opened in 2000 to rave reviews, was designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley. It got its name because it’s anything but desert golf; it’s more like being on a tropical island in southern Nevada. From the numerous cascading water features to the lush turf, bright white Augusta-like sand bunkers and volcanic rock outcroppings, this is a transporting experience.
On the course you will also find more than 2,500 towering palms and 100,000 Balinese tropical plants, and great views of the Las Vegas Strip from every hole.
As for the course, it’s very playable, but certainly a challenge. From the back tees, the par-71 layout measures just more than 7,000 yards, and the holes will keep your interest, For example, there’s the 468-yard, par-4 third, called “Shipwreck,” with a creek running down the entire right side. And then there’s the most memorable par-3 16th that plays to an island green next to the clubhouse with beautiful water features. Having been honored as one of Golf Digest’s “Top 50 Resort Courses,” it’s also a course that for the most part begins with easier holes (with the exception of the third) and gets harder as you go along, giving you time to get in a groove for the home stretch.
“You’ll know you’ve been tested, but it won’t beat you to death,” said Curley of playing Bali Hai. “It’s the kind of golf course you could play day after day and never tire of its charm.”