In 1964, a man by the name of Don Laughlin opened a small motel in a dusty, mostly deserted, old mining town called South Pointe along the Colorado River where Arizona, Nevada and California meet. The eight-room motel was accompanied by a tiny casino with 12 slot machines and two gaming tables.
It was hardly an auspicious beginning for what would eventually grow into a sizable gambling mecca. Today, Laughlin, Nevada, boasts more than 10 major hotels and casino resorts with over 10,000 rooms, and has become a huge tourist magnet, drawing gamers, boaters, water skiers and revelers of all types.
And then there’s the golf, with one of the more enticing options being a stay at the top-rated Avi Resort & Casino, which partners with two championship courses: Mojave Resort and Huukan golf clubs.
“We offer a Vegas atmosphere in a small town located on the Colorado River,” says Mike Magnera, the general manager at both courses. “It’s one resort, two courses and fun times on the Colorado River.”
While many guests have little reason to leave the resort, golfers don’t have to travel far to enjoy a round—Mojave Resort is located less than a mile away, while Huukan is about a 10-minute drive.
Mojave Resort features a 6,939-yard championship track brought to life by the renowned architect team of Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley, who have teamed to design more than 150 courses worldwide. Magnera calls the layout a hidden gem that is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the busy Colorado River.
Routed along the lowlands on the banks of the river, Mojave Resort features wide fairways, rolling terrain, dunes shaped by the desert wind, natural wetlands and gorgeous native landscaping set against the backdrop of scenic mountains. It also offers plenty of risk-reward opportunities.
“The par 5s are reachable in two if you’re positioned well off the tee, but hazards lurk on shots into the greens,” Magnera said. “It is a tough championship course that rewards golfers who play smart and can navigate the large, undulating greens.”
In contrast, Huukan Golf Club is shorter but also “walker- and player-friendly—and it’s the best value in town,” Magnera says.
The championship tees at Huukan measure 6,444 yards, but Magnera advises not letting the shorter yardage fool you; you still must hit quality shots if you intend to score well. The small greens demand accuracy, but also give players plenty of opportunity to make putts.
“Golfers can play to their handicap out here more often than not,” Magnera says. “In fact, both courses are very playable.”
Following their round, guests can return to the Avi Resort and Casino for gaming, dining and entertainment. The 465-room hotel is located on the banks of the river on land owned by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. It features Vegas-style gambling and ambiance, including a top-rated sports book along with slots, 18 table games, 875 slot machines and a poker room.
It also offers the largest private beach on the river, along with a heated resort pool. Boaters can enjoy the casino’s private boat launch, and jet ski rentals are available.
After the sun sets guests and visitors can enjoy six dining options, from the romantic Moon-Shadow Grille to fresh seafood at the Native Harvest Buffet. There’s even a year-round fireworks stand.
Mojave Resort Golf Club, 9905 Aha Macav Parkway, Laughlin, Nevada, 89029, 702.535.4653, mojavegolf.com.
Huukan Golf Club, 5835 Desert Lakes Drive, Fort Mohave, Arizona, 86426, 928.330.1000, mojavegolf.com.