Red Hawk Golf and Resort

Hole 18 tee. | John Dee

Red Hawk Golf and Resort is a large complex located in Sparks, Nev., in the Spanish Springs Valley. It includes private-club members-only areas, a fitness center, a real-estate office and a popular restaurant named David’s Grill — plus, two golf courses, the Lakes and the Hills. I had the pleasure to play the Lakes Course two years ago; it was a very enjoyable experience to be sure, but I heard nice things about the Hills Course, as well. What a perfect opportunity to compare the two.

18 holes | Par 71
Yardage | 4,980 to 7,106
Slope | 102 to 127
Rating | 62.7 to 73.1

The Hills Course opened in 2000 and was designed by three-time U.S. Open champion Hale Irwin. Known as a tough-as-nails competitor, I was half expecting long rough, narrow fairways and rock-hard greens like the courses he won on. Fortunately, that is not the case at all.

I found reading the greens very straightforward. Each green is also surrounded by a wide chipping/putting collar. You can putt if you like or chip from short grass.

The first thing that you will notice at the Hills Course are the undulating fairways — plenty wide, but the only level lies you will have are on the tees. Fairways and greens are protected by deep sand traps, but they don’t really come into play. Greens are on the smallish size with some very undulating and some two tiered. I found reading the greens very straightforward. Each green is also surrounded by a wide chipping/putting collar. You can putt if you like or chip from short grass. Either option makes the short game considerably easier for most players and is a very welcome addition. On-cart GPS is provided to show the distance to the middle of the green, not the flag, so you will need to do some adjustments.

The signature hole 6 is a bear of a par 4 measuring from 325 to 484 yards. Your tee shot must avoid a large sand trap to the left and thick brush to the right. A long second shot is slightly downhill but you will also have a sidehill lie mixed in. Two large mounds to the left and right of the green will catch or defect anything short leaving you a tricky pitch. The green itself is quite small making it all that much harder to hit with a long club. Be happy with a par and move on.

I enjoyed both courses at Red Hawk — but for different reasons. I really liked how the Hills Course laid out from the tee. It was very clear where you needed to land your tee shot and what you need to do with the next shot. That could be the personality of Hale Irwin coming through —more analytical and not flashy. I’ve played a lot of Trent Jones Jr. courses; he designed the Lakes Course. It was fun to play a Hale Irwin course. There are only 21 designs in the United States, so this is a special treat. | redhawkgolfandresort.com