Bill Satterfield

Bill Satterfield's Take on Cascata Golf Course

Las Vegas, Nevada | Cascata Golf Course

Architect: Rees Jones
Year: 2000

One Cascata Drive, Boulder City, Nevada 89005
(702) 294-2004

What to Expect: Described by course architect Rees Jones as “The Eighth Wonder of the golf world”, Cascata has to be experienced to believe and appreciate. After getting through the gates protecting the entrance to the property, you are greeted by staff members at the front door to the 37,000 square foot Tuscan-style clubhouse. On your walk back towards the locker room you actually walk on a bridge that goes over a river that begins 418 feet up the mountainside as a waterfall and cascades down through the clubhouse, an experience you certainly won’t find many places. Your golf cart awaits for you in the lower level of the clubhouse where you drive it out through large wooden double doors to the course. Conditioning is always perfect and the greens run fast. The holes are laid out up and down the canyons east of Boulder City and a golf cart is a must, especially considering the nearly two minute ride from the 7th to the 8th hole. There is generally more staff than golfers at the club at any given time and everything about the course and facilities is posh. Cascata is a Vegas gem!

Signature Hole: 14th – 434 Yard Par 4 – Tiger Woods was photographed standing on the water near the 14th green and was featured on the cover of Golf Digest; how appropriate for a guy that seems to be able to do anything. The 14th hole is a stunning downhill par four that features a creek cutting in front of the tee boxes and down the right side of the hole before pooling up in a pond 100 yards from the green and protecting the entire right side of the putting surface. Two bunkers protect the opposite side of the green which allows little room for error when making your approach shot at this beautiful signature hole.
Cascasta Golf Course
Best Par 3: 4th – 216 Yards – Not only did Rees Jones design an excellent par three as the 4th hole at Cascata, but this 216 yarder is a brute. A pond fronts the left half of the green while a very large horseshoe shaped bunker guards the entire right side of the green. This hole plays due south down a canyon and thus will generally feature a tailwind which makes club selection and distance control all the more difficult.
Cascasta Golf Course
Best Par 4: 13th – 469 Yards – While it is difficult to argue against the 14th hole as the best on the course, I’m going to feature the previous hole since the 14th has already been featured as the signature hole; in fact this was our caddy’s favorite hole. The 469 yard par four 13th is a big dogleg left where players could potentially be faced with a blind approach shot over a mountain if their tee shot is not long enough. Three bunkers flank the outside of the dogleg while a single bunker protects the left side of the green. In the distance beyond the 13th green, skydivers are often seen across the sky as they drop down at nearby Boulder City Airport.

Best Par 5: 18th – 559 Yards – The finishing hole at Cascata is flat out stunning! The double dogleg 18th offers two options off the tee; either a conservative tee shot to the right side of the hole or a heroic tee shot over the rock hill on the left that can carry the water and leave an mid-iron approach shot to reach the green in two. Water runs down the left side for the first half of the hole, crosses the fairway, and runs down the right side before cascading into a pond that fronts the green. This is a great hole that gives players a chance to press their bets down the stretch!
Cascasta Golf Course
Birdie Time: 7th – 157 Yards – It is very rare that I feature a par three as your best chance at carding a birdie, but when a course is over 7100 yards and you are able to tee up a 157 yard approach shot to a fairly roomy green then I like your chances of going under par there as much as anywhere. The hole plays west to east and is located at the base of a couple of hills which protects it from the majority of wind that would affect the shot. A waterfall cascades down the hill behind the green and runs through a creek that protects the left and front sides of the green; avoid the water hazard and you’ll be in good shape to score a birdie.
Cascasta Golf Course
Bogey Beware: 17th – 489 Yards – A long forced carry is required off the tee of the 489 yard par four 17th hole that doglegs to the left. Your tee shot must avoid the bunker placed on the outside of the dogleg to be in good position to attack the green that is protected by three bunkers, two in front and one in the rear right, with your long approach shot.

  • The Objectivist

    I’ve played several dozen rounds at Cascata and would like to share my viewpoint. For perspective, I have no axe to grind, I simply want to add to the information available to the users of this site as they make decisions as to where to potentially play while traveling.

    Cascata is in many ways a great place, as described above. The course is always in spectacular condition, and the visuals are stunning. I just think it is a terrible golf course from an architectural standpoint. Something like 16 holes are straight uphill or straight down hill. Pretty much every hole has a giant slope of volcanic rock on each side. In my dozens of rounds we had a significant wind nearly all the time (but granted I’ve only played in summer). When the wind blows downhill, the course is silly. You hit wedges into 480 yard par fours. You hit long irons uphill to blind targets into short par fours. When the wind blows uphill its impossible. You can’t hold the greens on the uphill holes, and the downhill holes become ridiculous adventures off the elevated tees as balls float at the mercy of the wind for seemingly ever. There are perhaps more blind shots than any course I’ve ever seen. It has the worst collection of par 5s I’ve perhaps ever seen. The first one, #3, is long on the card, but I’ve hit as little as 8 iron into it downwind, and I’ve seen a guy hit sand wedge. The second and third ones are straight uphill, #16 being something like 460, but straight up a narrow canyon. Just bizarre. The 18th, lauded in the review above, is a bizarre hole. There is zero risk-reward off the tee. The fairway runs out on the right (I hit it about 275, sea level, no wind, etc, not long by today’s standards) even for me. Sure, a bomber can go left if he’s comfortable with a blind 300 yard carry into a target area the size of a living room. Every round I’ve played there has been in a tournament, and all I ever saw is hybrid or long iron of the tee, short iron way left, then wedge into the green.

    Again, I have no axe to grind. As bad as the course is, I always enjoyed playing it. Cascata was kind enough to host a NV state-level amateur event every year for several years (NV Mid-Am or NV Match Play), and as most of the courses we’ve played in NV events over the years aren’t very nice or upscale, we all were certainly very appreciative of the opportunity to play there. I just thought an objective review of the course was in order. Part of the problem was with the complete inability for the course to hold a championship tournament. Stroke play in any sort of wind is a joke. Balls blow all over the place, bounce all over the place in the rocks, total death march. And this was with state level amateurs. I can’t imagine what goes on out there with average players as I spent all day looking for balls for two scratch playing partners on the way to their 88s. In match play, one guy will hit one slightly off line, it’ll bounce off the bizarre mounding (I think the architect was trying to hide the paths from view off the tees) and dribble across a cart path into bushes. The next guy will blast one fifty yards off line, land in the rocks and often ricochet back into play! It’s totally random who gets penalized and who gets away with bad shots out there. I’m known as a straight hitter in the am world, so Cascata favored me and I did well in the tourneys out there, so again, no complaining on that end. I always liked seeing it on the schedule as I knew it favored me. I’m just saying that objectively its a bad golf course architecturally.

    All that said, I think someone should go experience it for sure if getting comped by a casino or getting hooked up in some other way. I don’t think I’d encourage paying the rumored (but I don’t know if anyone pays this) green fee of several hundred bucks unless money is no object and you just want amusement park golf. The slant I’d have used if writing the above review is that this is the perfect Vegas golf course. It’s all glitz and glamor, but when you get under the surface, there’s not much of substance. You end up spending a lot of money and can’t wait to get home. Oh, and the waterfall in the clubhouse stinks.

    • Troublelove

      Object – appreciate your comments. What are your top 3 (public) courses in LV?

      • The Objectivist

        I’m probably not your guy as I’ve only played in Vegas in state tournaments. I’m from Tahoe (northern Nevada) and most of our events have been at private places. We have played Paiute, which has three courses, and I know people like those. They’re pretty remote (45min from the strip?) and not awesome, but good. I can’t speak to the value as I’ve never paid a greens fee, but again, many Vegas visitors seem to like them. I haven’t played shadow creek, but everyone loves that except for how fake it feels (common refrain I’ve heard from the many I know who’ve played it). I’d say definitely check that out (easier to get on these days, but pricey) for the whole Vegas experience. All in all though Vegas is a terrible golf trip. Do dozens of others before Vegas, but if you’re doing a Vegas trip and want to play on the side, not too bad.