IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Wolf Run Golf Club in Reno, Nev.
THE LAYOUT: The University of Nevada, whose teams are nicknamed the Wolf Pack, built this scenic course on land it owned at the foot of snow-capped Mt. Rose, which explains why the school's Block N, in blue and silver, adorns the flag on every hole.
Director of Golf Tom Duncan, who was the Nevada golf coach from 1994 to 2004, fronted a syndicate that bought the course from the Athletic Association of the University of Nevada in 2004.
PGA pro Lou Eiguren, formerly the head pro at the Olympic Club in San Francisco and Edgewood Golf Club in Lake Tahoe, designed the 7,100-yard par-72 layout, which opened in 1998, with the help of John Fleming, who was his superintendent at the Olympic Club.
Fleming's father, Jack, was lead construction foreman for famed designer Alister MacKenzie at Cypress Point in Pebble Beach, Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz and other classic courses in California.
The course at Wolf Run winds through 140 acre hilly acres in a bowl-like canyon, with roaring White's Creek traversing eight holes, and there is water on 15 of the 18.
There are few trees on the course -- dozens of saplings were planted recently -- and it plays relatively short, but the elevation changes require golfers to play a variety of shots, although the driving areas are generous on most holes.
With four sets of tees, it's a fair test for golfers of all abilities.
DIRECTOR OF GOLF: Tom Duncan.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Accuracy and course management rather than length off the tee can lead to a good score at Wolf Run, if you can solve the large and tricky greens, which are considered among the best in the Reno area.
Stay below the hole to avoid some treacherous putts because the greens are fast and feature plenty of break.
The course opens with a challenging 408-yard par 4, with the creek guarding the left side and the front of the green, making the approach shot all carry to a putting surface that slopes from back to front.
No. 4, a 412-yard par 4, is the first of several holes that require a decision from the elevated tee -- whether to take out the driver and try to hit over two forks of White's Creek nearly 200 yards away, or to lay up for a longer approach shot to the elevated green.
The fifth hole is the first of three par 3s that measure at least 200 yards from the back tees, but probably the most difficult and picturesque is No. 14, in an amphitheater setting, which measures 218 yards to a green guarded by the creek and a large front bunker.
The two par-5 holes on the back, Nos. 15 (546 yards) and 18 (527), might be reachable in two for big hitters because of the thin air, but are ranked Nos. 3 and 5 in difficulty on the course. The approaches on both are guarded by the creek and bunkers.
Reno is 4,412 feet above sea level, so as a rule at least one less club is required on most shots, depending on the wind.
Wolf Run also is known locally for the fine cuisine in its restaurant and its weekly wine tasting.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Lake Ridge Golf Course, which opened in 1969 and was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr., was voted the best course in Reno for 10 consecutive years.
Northgate Golf Club is a links course in the Northern Nevada desert, designed by Brad Benz and Mike Poellot, which opened in 1988; Rosewood Golf Course, designed by Benz, is a challenging course built on reclaimed swampland with water in play on every hole; Sierra Sage Golf Course is a wide-open layout opened in 1960, and Washoe Golf Course is the oldest in Reno, opened in 1936.
In neighboring Sparks are D'Andrea Golf and Country Club, the private Hills and the resort Lakes courses at Red Hawk Golf Club at Wingfield Springs, and Wildcreek Golf Course, which features a full-sized course and a nine-hole layout.
WHERE TO STAY: The Hilton Reno Resort and Casino, about 15 minutes from Wolf Run, offers guests the largest casino in Northern Nevada and plenty more. There are nine restaurants and lounges, shows in the Hilton Theater, a fitness center and spa, outdoor heated swimming pool, sauna, driving range, bowling alley, a 70,000-square-foot shopping mall and the largest recreational vehicle park in Reno.
The Peppermill Hotel Casino is a local favorite, the Siena Hotel Spa on the Truckee River is the newest resort in town and the Boomtown Fun Center is designed for families.
Among the best of the rest are John Ascuaga's Nugget, the Eldorado Resort, the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, the Atlantis Casino Resort, the Circus-Circus Hotel and Casino-Reno, Harrah's Reno and the Sands Regency Casino Hotel.
ON THE WEB: www.wolfrungolfclub.com
THE LAST RESORT: Sedona Golf Resort in Sedona, Ariz.
THE LAYOUT: Architect Gary Panks crafted a spectacular course that climbs a ridge along the Mogollon Rim, part of the Colorado Plateau, and gives the golfer incredible views of Sedona's famous red rock formations in the Village of Oak Creek on the south end of town.
The course, which plays to a par of 71, stretches to a very playable length of 6,646 yards from the blue, or championship tees. It has played host to the Southwest Section PGA Championship and several events of the Arizona Golf Assn., the amateur body in the state.
The beauty of the surroundings and the famous Sedona vortex sites, spots where the earth's energy is supposedly increased leading to self-awareness and various types of healing, can produce a relaxing and vitalizing round of golf at the same time.
Other than playing at say, Pebble Beach, Augusta or St. Andrews, this is about as close as a golfer can come to the feeling of playing a round in a cathedral.
Sedona is located off Interstate 17 about 120 miles north of Phoenix, and the 4,400-foot elevation makes the area much cooler than the Valley of the Sun during the summer months.
HEAD PROFESSIONAL: Gary Pearce.
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Sedona Golf Resort sits on hallowed ground. John Wayne and other famed celluloid cowboys rode this terrain as far back as the 1930s. In between the first and 18th holes at Sedona Golf Resort are the remains of the handmade red rock wall from Sedona's original homesteads.
All around the golfers are towering rock formations of red sandstone, created by Mother Nature through iron oxidation. Enjoy the golf but don't forget to drink in the views available from every spot on the course.
Especially gorgeous is the 210-yard, par-3 10th, the signature hole. The golfer plays from an elevated tee to a green that has Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock as a backdrop. The hole, rated No. 10 on the card, is user-friendly because tee shots that miss to the right often get a generous bounce onto the green.
The monster par-5, 623-yard fifth, toughest hole on the course, and the 448-yard, par-4 eighth hole give the golfer a bit of Scottish Highlands golf in the high desert because they share a multi-tiered, 17,000-square-foot green.
Another challenge is the 439-yard, par-4 15th, which rates No. 2 on the card. This hole requires a long drive to a narrow fairway with two sand traps on the right side of the landing area. An arroyo runs across the fairway 120 yards from the green, which is protected by a yawning trap on the left and four smaller bunkers on the right.
The 338-yard, par-4 18th hole can be reached from the tee on occasion by the long hitter, with the risk-reward factor coming into play in the form of a lake and four bunkers on the left of the green. For those who lay up, there are five more bunkers on the right side of the fairway.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: Practically next door at the foot of famed Bell Rock is another picturesque course, Oak Creek Country Club, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr.
Verde Santa Fe Golf Course, located about 15 minutes southwest of Sedona in Cornville, is more of a desert-style course in the Verde Valley, with views of Mingus Mountain and the Black Hills that range from historic Camp Verde to Cottonwood. This is where Gen. George Crook and the U.S. Army cavalry chased Geronimo and other renegade Apaches in the 1870s.
Beaver Creek Golf Course at Lake Montezuma is a friendly country-style layout that also is about 15 minutes away, to the Southeast. This was the first golf course in the area, designed by Arthur Jack Snyder and opened in 1962.
Canyon Mesa Country Club, across Highway 17 from Oak Creek and Sedona Golf Resort, is a 9-hole, par-28 layout that is good practice for your short game and comes with all the scenic beauty of the championship courses.
WHERE TO STAY: The Sedona Golf Resort offers all the amenities of a full-service resort, but there is a multitude of places to stay in the area, from bed-and-breakfasts to upscale resorts.
Among the best are Amara Creekside Resort, La Auberge Sedona Resort, Radisson Poco Diablo Resort, the Creekside Inn at Sedona, Boots and Saddles Romantic Bed and Breakfast, the Briar Patch Inn, the Apple Orchard Inn, and the elegant Enchantment Resort, which features a fun pitch-and-putt course and putting green.
ON THE WEB: www.sedonagolfresort.com