"Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun." To that, lyricist Noel Coward could have added bargain-seeking golfers. If you thought Las Vegas hotel prices dropped when the mercury climbs skyward, wait until you see the green fees at nearby courses. So save a bundle, avoid the nasty wind and cold in what the tourism bureau calls "high season" and work on that tan. But before discussing where, let's remember a few important hows of desert golf:
1. "Swing oil" is not your friend; water is. Drink lots.
2. Wear a hat and some of that techno-wear that combats excessive perspiration and, I believe, Kryptonite.
3. Wear sunscreen and reapply at the turn.
4. The low, low rate comes with an afternoon launch.
5. Play 36 holes. Seriously, you'll sweat more in the casino.
Bear's Best Las Vegas, 11111 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas; (702) 605-0649, http://www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/Bear-s-Best-Las-Vegas
Hot rate: $59-$129
Cold rate: $239
Golf's version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," with Jack Nicklaus re-creating 18 holes based on his golf course designs throughout the West and Mexico. I've played many of the originals, and the clones look very familiar.
Durango Hills Golf Club, 3501 N. Durango Drive, Las Vegas; (702) 229-4653, http://www.durangohillsgolf.com
Hot rate: $25-$45
Cold rate: $25-$45
Discount, what discount? Durango is a city-owned 18-hole executive course that offers immense value at any price, any time of the year, discount or not. Designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley — who have worked on courses attributed to Nicklaus, Pete Dye and Nick Faldo— this is a real course done up in a smaller-than-usual package, and you can move through it at something other than the glacial pace that plagues many golf venues.
Primm Valley Golf Club, 1 Yates Well Road, Nipton, Calif.; (702) 679-5509, http://www.primmvalleygolf.com
Hot rate: $19-$85
Cold rate: $125
You can spend $500 for a round of Tom Fazio golf in Vegas. That's for one round, no typo. Or you can hit Primm Valley 26 times and still have a few Washingtons in hand. I choose volume. There are two courses here, one cloaked in desert-thorn nastiness and one that looks as if it were flown in from the Carolinas. Each is stunning. See No. 5 above.
Rio Secco Golf Club, 2851 Grand Hills Drive, Henderson, Nev.; (702) 777-2400, http://www.riosecco.net
Hot rate: $80-$120
Cold rate: $225
Rio Secco was one of Vegas' first mega-courses, and it remains a top-10 play. Visiting players go all aflutter over "desert-target golf" — hitting from patch of green to patch of green in a jumble of rock and sand — and they get it here in spades. The course vaults and plummets over and through ridges and canyons, and serves up prime views of Las Vegas and the Strip. The course is closed Aug.15-Sept. 8.