Golf casinos and more Why Vegas is perfect for a mancation

By Brandon TuckerFebruary 2, 2010, 1:26 am
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(Photo courtesy Warner Bros.)

LAS VEGAS – This is the place for a mancation.

The 2009 comedy smash 'The Hangover' showed how to party hard in Vegas.

And while drugs, kidnappings and ill-advised marriages might be pushing it for your group, rest assured, you can still have a good, ol' fashioned boys weekend in Las Vegas.

Every mancation should include a couple rounds of golf, so as to ensure you see the light of day for at least four hours.

We're here to offer mancation-friendly options, from golf to off-the-course action in Las Vegas.

Top mancation golf courses in Las Vegas

For more golf in Las Vegas, or to plan your next trip, visit
Mancationers want to spend as little time as possible away from the Las Vegas Strip. And there's golf nearby – both on Las Vegas Boulevard and close enough to allow for a cheap cab fare, sparing the rental-car expense.

Want to splurge? Look no further than Bali Hai Golf Club, next to Mandalay Bay on the Strip. Bali Hai, spectacularly conditioned and beautified with a few thousand palm trees, features and a signature island green. That's not to mention the wide fairways that even your group's duffer - and there's always one - might hit every few swings. If your group is flush, consider playing a round with one or more of the sexy Bali Hai Par Mates.

If you're staying on the north end of the Strip, downtown Las Vegas options are close. Desert Pines Golf Club boasts a wonderfully crafted and scenic, Carolina sandhills-style design with tight, rolling fairways lined with pine trees. And Desert Pines features a mountainous backdrop.

If you can't keep your driver in the fairway, though, or lack the self control to hit a few irons off the tee, head elsewhere. You can go old school and visit Las Vegas National Golf Club, a classic PGA Tour stop that hosted Tiger Woods' first PGA-Tour win in 1996. And Las Vegas National is a great value, especially if you book an afternoon or evening tee time.

If your group includes a mancationer who can't handle 18 holes of regulation golf and you don't trust him alone at the casino for four hours, play some par-3 golf. The Callaway Golf Center, just south of the casinos on the Strip, offers nine holes mof par-3 golf. It stays lighted until 11 p.m. in the summer, in case you sleep through that 4 p.m. wake-up call.

Top Las Vegas Strip steakhouses

Every mancation needs one great meal with a red-meat centerpiece, and steakhouses abound up and down the Strip. One of the newest on the scene, Brand at Monte Carlo, provides a bustling, open atmosphere, so you can keep an eye on the real meat market.

Michael Mina's Stripsteak at Mandalay Bay serves a variety of steak styles, from Kobe beef to butter-poached, bone-in top loin. So order a good bottle of red and kick off your night with some class.

Mancation-friendly casinos in Las Vegas

Some casinos keep mancationers seated at the tables with gorgeous, young, cleavage-heavy dealers.

One of the newest additions to the center of the Strip, Planet Hollywood employs some of the sexiest dealers. With go-go dancer pits that add to a mingling, high-energy atmosphere, you might not even feel the need to go to the club. And if you've already made an ass of yourself at the craps table and want to do it again, there's a karaoke bar right next to the Planet Hollywood casino.

The Hard Rock Casino Hotel has stayed hot enough to lure plenty of partygoers from the strip. The casino floor is hardly traditional by design. It's shaped more like a circular party pit with a bar in the center and a live stage just off the floor, so you barely feel like you're gambling. Go-go girls and sexy dealers help entice you back into the pits and shake it to pumping, hard-rock tunes.

Just about every casino has a poker room, but they vary. Downtown, the World Series of Poker began in Binion's enormous, 70-table room gave. It offers $2/$4 limit hold'em.

On the strip, the poker room at the MGM Grand sits right at the front of the casino, luring fish, as the sharks call them, for the taking.

If you're looking to play where the pros play or to put up some serious coin yourself, head to the Bellagio. The limits range from $4/$8 to as high as you want in Bobby's Room, where the stars often play.
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Tiger's checklist: How he can contend at Augusta

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 8:31 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Augusta is already on the minds of most players here at the Honda Classic, and that includes the only one in the field with four green jackets.

Yes, Tiger Woods has been talking about the Masters ever since he started this latest comeback at Torrey Pines. These three months are all about trying to build momentum for the year’s first major.

Woods hasn’t revealed his schedule past this week, but his options are limited. He’s a good bet to play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he has won eight times, but adding another start would be a departure from the norm. He’s not eligible for the two World Golf Championship events, in Mexico and Austin, and he has never played the Valspar Championship or the Houston Open.

So there’s a greater sense of urgency this week at PGA National, which is realistically one of his final tune-ups.

How will Woods know if he’s ready to contend at Augusta? Here’s his pre-Masters checklist:

1. Stay healthy

So far, so good, as Woods tries to resume a normal playing schedule following four back surgeries since 2014. Though he vowed to learn from his past mistakes and not push himself, it was a promising sign that Woods felt strong enough to sign up for the Honda, the second of back-to-back starts on separate coasts.

Another reason for optimism on the health front: The soreness that Woods felt after his season opener at Torrey Pines wasn’t related to his surgically repaired back. No, what ached most were his feet – he wasn’t used to walking 72 holes on hilly terrain.

Woods is stiffer than normal, but that’s to be expected. His back is fused.

2. Figure out his driver

Augusta National is more forgiving off the tee than most major courses, putting more of a premium on approach shots and recoveries.

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That’s good news for Woods, who has yet to find a reliable tee shot. Clearly, he is most comfortable playing a fade and wants to take the left side of the course out of play, but in competition he’s been plagued by a two-way miss.

In two starts this year, Woods has hit only 36 percent of the fairways, no matter if he was using driver, fairway wood or long iron.

Unfortunately, Woods is unlikely to gain any significant insight into his driver play this week. PGA National’s Champion Course isn’t overly long, but there is water on 15 of the 18 holes. As a result, he said he likely will hit driver only four times a round, maybe five, and otherwise rely on his 3-wood and 2-iron. 

Said Rory McIlroy: “Being conservative off the tee is something that you have to do here to play well.”

That won’t be the case at Augusta.

3. Clean up his iron play

As wayward as Woods has been off the tee, his iron play hasn’t impressed, either.

At Riviera, he hit only 16 greens in regulation – his fewest in a Tour event as a professional. Of course, Woods’ chances of hitting the green are reduced when he’s playing from the thick rough, sand and trees, but he also misfired on six of the eight par 3s.

Even when Woods does find the green, he’s not close enough to the hole. Had he played enough rounds to qualify, his proximity to the hole (39 feet, 7 inches) would rank 161st on Tour.

That won’t be good enough at Augusta, where distance control and precision are paramount.

Perhaps that’s why Justin Thomas said last week what many of us were thinking: “I would say he’s a pretty good ways away.”

4. Get into contention somewhere

As much as he would have liked to pick off a win on the West Coast, Woods said that it’s not a prerequisite to have a chance at the Masters. He cited 2010, when he tied for fourth despite taking four months off after the fallout from his scandal.

In reality, though, there hasn’t been an out-of-nowhere Masters champion since Charl Schwartzel in 2011. Since then, every player who eventually donned the green jacket either already had a win that year or at least a top-3 finish worldwide.

“I would like to play well,” Woods said. “I would like to win golf tournaments leading into it. The years I’ve won there, I’ve played really well early.”

Indeed, he had at least one win in all of the years he went on to win the Masters (1997, 2000, ’01, ’05). Throw in the fact that Woods is nearly five years removed from his last Tour title, and it’s reasonable to believe that he at least needs to get himself into contention before he can seriously entertain winning another major.

And so that’s why he’s here at the Honda, trying to find his game with seven weeks to go. 

“It’s tournament reps,” he said, “and I need tournament reps.”

Add that to the rest of his pre-Masters checklist.

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Players winner to get 3-year exemption into PGA

By Rex HoggardFebruary 21, 2018, 8:01 pm

Although The Players isn’t golf’s fifth major, it received a boost in that direction this week.

The PGA of America has adjusted its criteria for eligibility into the PGA Championship, extending an exemption for the winner of The Players to three years.

According to an official with the PGA of America, the association felt the winner of The Players deserved more than a single-year exemption, which had been the case, and the move is consistent with how the PGA Tour’s annual flagship event is treated by the other majors.

Winners of The Players were already exempt for three years into the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open Championship.

The change will begin with this year’s PGA Championship.

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Thomas: Playing in front of Tiger even more chaotic

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:52 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Justin Thomas may be going from the frying pan to the fire of Tiger Woods’ pairings.

Translation: He’s going from being grouped with Woods last week in the first two rounds at the Genesis Open to being grouped directly in front of Woods this week at the Honda Classic.

“Which might be even worse than playing with him,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Typically, the pairing in front of Woods deals with a lot of gallery movement, with fans racing ahead to get in position to see Woods’ next shot.

Thomas was quoted after two rounds with Tiger at Riviera saying fans “got a little out of hand,” and saying it’s disappointing some golf fans today think it’s “so amusing to yell and all that stuff while we’re trying to hit shots.”

With 200,000 fans expected this week at the Honda Classic, and with the Goslings Bear Trap pavilion setting a party mood at the 16th green and 17th tee, that portion of the course figures to be quite lively at PGA National.

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Thomas was asked about that.

“I touched on this a little bit last week,” Thomas said. “I think it got blown out of proportion, was just taken out of context, and worded differently than how I said it or meant it.

“I love the fans. The fans are what I hope to have a lot of, what all of us hope to have a lot of. We want them cheering us on. But it's those certain fans that are choosing to yell at the wrong times, or just saying stuff that's completely inappropriate.”

Thomas said it’s more than ill-timed shouts. It’s the nature of some things being said.

“It's one thing if it's just you and I talking, but when you're around kids, when you're around women, when you're around families, or just around people in general, some of the stuff they are saying to us is just extremely inappropriate,” he said. “There’s really no place for it anywhere, especially on a golf course.

“I feel like golf is pretty well known as a classy sport, not that other sports aren't, but it has that reputation.”

Thomas said the nature of the 17th hole at PGA National’s Champion Course makes it a more difficult tee shot than the raucous 16th at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Typically, players like to hear fans get into the action before or after they hit shots. Ill-timed bluster, however, makes a shot like the one at Honda’s 17th even tougher.

“That hole is hard enough,” Thomas said. “I don't need someone yelling in my ear on my backswing that I'm going to hit it in the water, to make it any harder. I hope it gets better, just for the sake of the game. That's not helping anything. That's not helping grow the game.”

Those who follow golf know an ill-timed shout in a player’s backswing is different than anything a fan says at a football, basketball or baseball game. An ill-timed comment in a backswing has a greater effect on the outcome of a competition.

“Just in terms of how much money we're playing for, how many points we're playing for ... this is our jobs out here, and you hate to somehow see something that a fan does, or something that they yell, influence something that affects [a player’s] job,” Thomas said.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.

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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”