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Royal Links Golf Club brings British Open to life in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- Maybe it's just a dream. After all, you're in Las Vegas.

Maybe that's not the Swilcan Bridge right in front of your eyes. The Road Hole? Yep, it's on the golf course -- along with the Hell Bunker and Postage Stamp. In fact, if you didn't know any better, you'd swear you were teeing it up at the British Open.

But, as it turns out, it's better. This is Royal Links Golf Club, and this is world-famous Las Vegas. Put the two together, and you've got a golf experience you won't soon forget.

Royal Links is a Dye Designs layout with 18 holes replicating holes from 11 golf courses that have played host to the British Open. Add in the caddies, the famed Swilcan Bridge, a castle-style clubhouse, and you've got all the makings of a trip across the pond but with the Vegas Strip looming in the background.

The authenticity doesn't stop on the course. Venture into Stymie's Pub, and you'll have the chance to sample fare such as fish and chips and bangers. On the ninth tee box is an English-style phone to call the clubhouse to have lunch ready at the turn.

But face it, the golf course is why you're here, and this one will impress right from the start.

"It's a very unique course for Las Vegas," said Chuck Bombard, general manager. "There's nothing like it. You've got 18 golf holes representing courses from Scotland and England, and it's just a great golf experience -- right here in Las Vegas."

The opening hole, after crossing the Swilcan Bridge, sets up nicely to give players an early scoring chance. At 368 yards, it's a short par 4 so take a look at the yardage book (or ask your caddie or Parmate -- both have been trained to know all the ins and outs of Royal Links) about the best place to hit the tee shot.

Driver isn't always the best choice as a bunker on the right and rolling hills will make the approach shot tougher than it needs to be. Five bunkers guard the front of the green, so don't be short. Walk away with a par -- or even a birdie -- and smile because the course is about to get a whole lot tougher.

With more than 100 bunkers, many of which are hidden off the tee, a caddie is a great choice for players making their first venture onto the golf course. A great-looking tee shot may wind up in a bunker that players didn't see on the tee.

Not a great result but one that can be avoided with the solid advice caddies provide. They will also help players read these big and undulating greens. Putts that look straight can break several feet. Your caddie will steer you in the right direction and shave several strokes off your score.

The impressive list of holes includes the eighth, a replica of Royal Troon's Postage Stamp, and the 10th, the famed Road Hole from St. Andrews, where players need to cut off as much of the dogleg right as possible while avoiding the scoreboard that welcomes players to the hole.

It may not be the same as the hotel that stands guard at the dogleg of the real Road Hole, but it's still an impressive hole, especially with a very deep bunker guarding the front of the green.

After the round, players can take time to reminisce about the round in the pub with its upscale choice of libations, including pints of Guinness.

Royal Links Golf Club may be in Las Vegas, but with its deep bunkers, gorse and other amenities, you'd swear you were teeing it up across the pond.

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