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Off the Strip but right on the mark: Las Vegas-area golf courses that are worth the drive

LAS VEGAS -- There are times when you just want to get away -- even in Las Vegas.

You're looking for great golf away from it all, a place where it's just you and the course. Here are three great golf courses, all within an hour drive of the famed Las Vegas Strip but world's away from the crowds.

So take a break from the bright lights and the gaming, grab your clubs and relax. After all, you're about to play golf at one of three stunning golf destinations. There are no homes on these courses. It's just you and golf paradise.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort: It's all here at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort: 54 holes of Pete Dye brilliance and a clubhouse that is wide-open and welcoming. And that's it, just you and Mother Nature.

The resort is located just northwest of Las Vegas but still just 30 minutes from all the action in Vegas. The action at the resort is all about the golf. With the Snow Mountain Course, Sun Mountain Course and Wolf Course, golfers can tee it up on a different track each day of your trip and never see the same design on a hole twice.

Each of the nines features a closing hole to be remembered as three separate ponds guard the greens. All three have bailout areas, but players will need to be aggressive to give themselves a birdie putt to close out the round.

Boulder Creek Golf Club: Boulder Creek Golf Club is a 27-hole layout is located about 30 minutes southeast of the Las Vegas Strip.

The Desert Hawk, Coyote Run and Eldorado Valley nines give players the choice of three different 18-hole tracks that include a wide variety of layout tests: short and lengthy par 4s and 5s, beautiful, challenging par 3s and stunning elevation changes. Add in the natural beauty of the course (remember: no houses on the course), and you've got a golf destination that will bring you back for more.

Each of the nines finishes with tough tests. On the Desert Hawk nine, a severe dogleg right challenges golfers to cut off as much of the dogleg as possible (without hitting the shot in the pond or the beach-like bunker).

On the Coyote Run nine, the ninth forces players to think long and hard before hitting the tee shot as a creek slices through the fairway and must be avoided.

The Eldorado Run nine is waterless, but a handful of bunkers in the tee shot landing area and more surrounding the green provide more than enough challenge for players.

The Chase at Coyote Springs: An hour north of Las Vegas is The Chase at Coyote Springs, a Jack Nicklaus Signature design that is more than worth the drive.

This 7,471-yard masterpiece (don't worry, there are tees as short as 5,349 yards, so it's playable for everyone) is Jack at his finest. Brilliant bunkering, deep-blue ponds, rolling fairways and true-rolling greens will test players at every turn. And the beauty of the course and the surroundings will only add to the experience.

The ninth and 18th holes, both par 4s, run alongside each other and mirror one another as the ninth is a dogleg left with a pond on the left side while the 18th is a dogleg right with that same pond guarding the right side of the green. Both are definite birdie holes to close out golfers' nines -- with solid drives and smart approach shots.

There you have it: Three scenic and challenging golf courses/resorts less than an hour from the Las Vegas Strip but world's away from the hustle and bustle. These are just the kind of spots many golfers live to play -- and return to play time after time.

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

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