Huukan Golf Club in Fort Mohave: Keep it straight for any chance to score

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

FORT MOHAVE, Ariz. -- The saying is simple: Looks can be deceiving. Take Huukan Golf Club, for example.

Huukan Golf Club
Huukan means "stick hitting a ball" in the Mojave native tribal language.
Huukan Golf ClubHuukan Golf Club - putting greenHuukan Golf Club - 9th hole
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Huukan Golf Club

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Huukan Golf Club in Fort Mohave enjoys a scenic setting with a mountain backdrop. At 6,600 yards from the back tees, the medium length is ideal for a challenging but not overly frustrating round.

18 Holes | Resort golf course | Par: 72 | 6444 yards | Book online | ... details »
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The golf course, located about 20 minutes from Laughlin, Nev., is a par-72 layout. The same as many other courses. But what makes this course different is the layout reaches just 6,444 yards from the tips. But if you're thinking this course should be a pushover, you would be wrong.

The course, designed by Robert and Bob Baldock, opened in 1989 as Desert Lakes and has undergone several owner changes and a name change. The current owners -- the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe -- are starting the third-year of a five-year plan to renovate the layout. And that started with the name. The Huukan name is golf at its simplest and means "stick hitting a ball" in the Mojave native tribal language.

As the former name indicates, desert (often) and lakes (on holes 9 and 18) do come into play here. But it's the trees and bunkers that ramp up the challenge and add to the scoring difficulty. Every fairway is lined with various types of trees, usually both left and right. Now, while the trees are great for battling the wind and offering a little shade on those warm desert days, there's also a downside: They tend to wreak havoc on ball flights.

"You better hit it straight," said Bill Kinder, who has been teeing it up here for seven months of the year since 1993. "You've got to keep it out of the trees, or you're not going to score well. Accuracy is definitely the key to this course over distance."

His favorite hole is the par-5 13th. From the tips, it's just 495 yards. But with the trees and bunkers -- along with an elevated green (which most of the holes feature) -- it's one of those golf holes that can bring out the best -- or the worst -- in a player. "You can put up some big numbers if you don't play it smart," Kinder said.

Huukan Golf Club: On the course

Huukan Golf Club is one of those layouts that looks benign but can come up and grab players quickly, especially if the wind blows. But play to your strengths and think your way around the course, and it's a scoreable course.

"It's one of the tightest courses around," said Justin Wilde, general manager of Huukan and Mojave Resort Golf Club. "It's kind of a target golf course but with an awful lot of trees."

The par-4 fourth is one of those holes where players need to think before grabbing a club on the tee. It's just 295 yards from the tips, so it's driveable -- and more-so from forward tees. But is that the wise move? Well, there are two trains of thought here: Laying up with an iron or even a hybrid will leave a wedge into another elevated green. Grabbing the driver and trying to find the putting surface brings a strand of trees into play on the right as well as bunkers guarding the left and right side of the green.

But fear not: There is another chance to prove your power and accuracy -- it's a second driveable par 4. The 276-yard 16th also has bunkers guarding the green, but there is a wider opening in front of the (elevated, of course) green letting players take their best shot.

Water comes into play on the ninth and 18th holes, but if players stay right with tee shots, they should have open approach shots. And on 18, a par 5 at 485 yards, it's reachable with a long iron or hybrid.

Oh, and did we mention it's a walkable course? Some of the locals take advantage of the chance to get a little extra exercise with their round of golf.

Huukan Golf Club: All in the family

Huukan's sister course, the Mojave Resort, is a 20-minute drive north, and stay-and-play packages are available for the resort as well as both courses.

And there's an added bonus: If players go online after their round and complete a survey, they will get $10 off their next round.

Huukan Golf Club: In the clubhouse

There are two: One is the clubhouse itself (spacious, and enough apparel and gear choices to satisfy any appetite), and the second is the restaurant/bar (again, spacious and with enough choices to satisfy any appetite).

The food prices are some of the best around. Many of the breakfast or lunch options, with drinks, can be had for less than $10. And that includes the tip.

Huukan Golf Club: The verdict

Huukan Golf Club has the feel of the course we all grew up and loved to play every day. It will challenge every player in your foursome, and the affordable rates will bring you back for more.

Just ask Heather Amelsberg. She was visiting family from Butte, Mont., and had just played the course for the first time.

"I'll definitely be back," she said. "It's a straight-forward course, which I like, and it's very player friendly.

"Well, except for all those trees," she added with a laugh.

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.

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