You can have your cake and eat it too, when it comes to fun on the links and at the tables. Check out these top winners from the great Southwest to the green hills of Carolina.
When one thinks of casinos, the mind usually thinks Vegas, and when one thinks of lush green courses, the arid desert doesn't seem the most likely spot. But if you've ever been to the scenic Southwest, or are lucky enough to live there, then you know that some of the most beautiful courses and casinos to boot are here in New Mexico and Arizona. And with the dry climate, you don't even have to break a sweat in these warm temps.
Albuquerque, NM, known for its international balloon fiesta, historic pueblos, pottery and turquoise, is also home to beautiful and unique landscapes - the perfect backdrop for area golf and casino resorts. All of these resorts are located on tribal pueblo lands, creating many jobs, improving the economy and making it possible for the next generation to stay on their ancestral homeland.
Sandia Resort golf course, Albuquerque, NM — Photo courtesy of Sandia Resort and Casino
The Sandia Resort and Casino (owned by the Sandia Pueblo) is one fine example, opened in 2005. 140,000 square feet of gaming, inside a beautifully decorated southwestern interior with floor to ceiling stunning views of the Sandia Mountains awaits you. The 9th floor wrap around patio bar and lounge offers spectacular views of the golf course, mountains and the city. Expansion plans are in the making for adding another Golf Pavilion. The current one, a pueblo style clubhouse, is already a great spot to catch a bite to eat after a round, or enjoy a visit to the pro shop. 18 hole weekday rates are a reasonable $36.
Twin Warriors course in Rio Rancho, NM — Photo courtesy of Twin Warriors Golf Club
Lauded as one of America's three best true links-style golf courses by the New York Times, Twin Warriors Golf Club, adjacent to the Santa Ana Casino, hosted the 2009 PGA Championship. It's not all desert out here, with eight lakes adjacent to tee boxes with 5 different sets of tees to play from on this 27 hole championship course. Wonderful gourmet food with southwestern flair can be found at the adjacent Prairie Star restaurant and nearby is the Santa Ana Star Casino. After trying your hand at the live poker, table games or 1,400 slot machines, enjoy the new state-of-the-art elegant nightclub, The Stage.
Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino — Photo courtesy of Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino
Just up the road, on the way to Santa Fe, is the newer Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, located in the heart of the Pojoaque Valley . This beautiful hotel in its picturesque setting, houses a 61,000 square foot casino with plush poker room, 18 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines. The Hale Irwin-designed Towa Golf Club has three 9-hole courses with dramatic elevation changes, one hole featuring the only island green in New Mexico.
Black Mesa golf course — Photo courtesy of Black Mesa
Less than 30 minutes north of Santa Fe is the stunning Black Mesa Golf Club, and when you arrive, you'll see how it got its name and accolades from Links Magazine as being "one of the most spectacular courses anywhere." With incredible views of the valley, the backdrop for this course is like no other. Rolling greens and fairways perfectly situated in and amongst the box canyons and arroyos will have you coming back. The nearby Santa Claran Hotel and Casino offers all the gaming action. Visit the Santa Clara Pueblo and Puye Cliff Dwellings while there.
We-Ko-Pa golf course in Arizona — Photo courtesy of We-Ko-Pa Golf Club
Located just 23 miles northeast of Phoenix, AZ on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation lands, is the We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, named one of the Best Resort Courses by Golfweek Magazine. Ben Crenshaw had a hand in designing this two 18-hole public course. With breathtaking views of several mountain ranges and a relaxing 10,000 foot clubhouse with indoor and outdoor dining, you'll be glad you chose to come here. Stay in the adjacent AAA Four Diamond Radisson Fort McDowell Resort, enjoying amenities such as spa, large pool and even wild west adventures. The casino on site offers live keno, live bingo, card rooms and slots. Check for other entertaining upcoming events, such as the Silver Car Auction.
Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in NC — Photo courtesy of Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort
Looking for a more lush and green setting further east? The luxurious 21-story Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, NC goes big, with 150,000 feet of gaming (now featuring live table games) and a 3,000 seat auditorium that attracts such artists as Robin Thicke, Lady Antebellum and Reba McEntire. Nestled in amongst oak, fir trees and flowering valleys is the new 18 hole Sequoyah National Golf Club, offering beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Special access and preferred rates are offered to golfers staying at the hotel.
Whether golfing in the arid desert or the green hills of North Carolina, you're sure to find the perfect winning casino/golf trip from one of these locales.