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Aliante Golf Club in North Las Vegas is a putter's game

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- If the players can navigate these greens, they can score. Isn't that what the golf commentators always say, especially when covering The Masters? Putting is everything.

Well, Aliante Golf Club in North Las Vegas is not Augusta, but its beautiful putting surfaces are what will make or break your round.

The Aliante residential community is about 25 miles north of the Las Vegas Strip. Although there is a retirement village, clusters of traditional homes and a casino, the golf course was there first. And be certain, Aliante Golf Club is not a retiree's golf course. Sure, from the correct tee box, it can play short and comfortable for those looking for a relaxing round, but from the back tees, it is quite clear Aliante was built for challenge.

"You've got to know how to negotiate these greens," says David Ogletree, a regular at Aliante G.C. "It took me some time to figure out I should keep the ball inside the cup no matter how much it looks like it's going to break. The greens run very true."

And fast. They are above-average quick for what is a public golf course now owned by the city of North Las Vegas.

Aliante Golf Club: Memorable fairways

There's no question you'll remember Aliante's greens, but you'll also find the hard and fast fairways quite memorable. Hit a good drive, and you'll get plenty of nice roll down the middle.

If you're slightly crooked, the ball can end up in the desert. And don't look for fluffy lies in lush fairways. The Nevada desert climate doesn't allow it, keeping the playing surfaces tight. It takes some cleanly clipped irons to execute a good approach shot from almost everywhere on the course. It's best to keep your blades in the truck and bring along those forgiving, cavity-back irons.

The conditions at Aliante will vary depending on the time of season, whether the golf course is being over-seeded, or if the winter grass is growing out or growing in. And even though the bunkers could use a bit a more sand to make them more playable for the average golfer, all in all the conditions are solid.

The most memorable holes are the short, par-4 fifth, the par-5 11th and the short, par-3 15th.

The fifth hole is only 331 yards from the regular men's tees, but an undulating green and three greenside bunkers do not make for an easy par. No. 11 runs out at 550 yards from the tips, forcing the player to hit a driver to get it over the small lake in front of the teeing area. Your shot into the green here has to be high and soft to sit on this tricky putting surface and to avoid the bunkers right and left.

The prettiest hole on the course may be the 135-yard 15th. Three bunkers surround the green, and the landing area requires one of your best pinpoint shots. From the regular men's tees this hole plays only 111 yards but is far from a simple par.

Aliante Golf Club also has a large practice range, chipping area and putting green. Carts are a necessity because of the distance between some greens and tees.

The price is quite reasonable. At high season the resort player will dish out around $85 on the weekends but considerably less in the hotter summer months.

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