Golf on three budgets Las Vegas

By Mike BaileyDecember 31, 2010, 9:38 pm
wynn las vegas golf
                                                     No. 18 at Wynn Golf Club (

If you're planning a trip to Las Vegas and golf is part of your itinerary, there are a lot of options, from high-end courses that treat you like a high-roller to more economical plays that still treat you pretty well.
For more travel tips, reviews and packages visit

Vegas is different than a lot of golf markets, particularly in terms of pricing. More and more green fees are dynamically priced, which means rates can vary from day to day, week to week and certainly season to season.

Mid-summer, for obvious reasons, is the most economical, but there are slow times the rest of the year, too, and generally mid-week green fees are priced lower than weekends, when Las Vegas sees the bulk of its vacationing travelers.

Many of the golf courses in Las Vegas also have tie-ins with the big resort casino hotels on and off the Strip, so you might want to check in with the concierge where you're staying. What follows is a loose price guide to playing golf in Las Vegas on three different budgets: like a high roller, going with the flow, and playing golf in Sin City economically.

High Roller Golf in Las Vegas
There are three golf courses in Las Vegas that stand above the rest, not only terms of the quality of the conditioning and layout of the courses, but in the service, exclusivity and – of course – price. Rack rate for these courses can be as high as $500, although in some cases, true high rollers might get special deals and on occasion you might also see a discount.

We're talking about clubs like Wynn Golf Club, Cascata Golf Club, Shadow Creek and Bali Hai Golf Club. Often you feel like you're the only group on the course. Cascata, for example, sets players up with a personal locker and a forecaddie. A waterfall streams down from behind the range and through the clubhouse, and each hole of this terrific Rees Jones design stands alone as the other holes on the course are almost invisible.

Wynn Golf Club was designed by Tom Fazio with Wynn Las Vegas resort owner Steve Wynn. Fountains, streams, imported mature trees, and crystal white sand bunkers abound, and it's one of only a couple golf courses located right on the Strip. Again, caddies and over-the-top personal attention are the order of the day.

Fazio also crafted Shadow Creek Golf Club, the original high roller course in Las Vegas. Shadow Creek, which used to be the domain of the privileged few, is now accessible through MGM Resort International for a sizeable fee. Like Wynn, it doesn't resemble the desert with its imported trees and lush fairways, roughs and greens. A Shadow Creek appointment begins with a limo ride to the course to be greeted by a personal caddie.

Like Wynn, Bali Hai Golf Club, a Pacific-themed escape to the islands, is also located right on the Strip, next to the Mandalay Bay Resort. The course always boasts lush conditions and outstanding service. Forecaddies are also available and recommended.

'Normal' Las Vegas courses
Defining this category can be difficult to pin down in terms of green fees, but let's just say these courses are substantially less than $500 and more often than not, over $100 in terms of rack rates. They make up the vast majority of well known Las Vegas golf courses, and in almost every case, you can expect terrific service for which the city's big resorts are known.

Starting with the Rees Jones-designed Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, you can expect to be challenged much like the pros are in the annual Wendy's Three-Tour Challenge. The greens can be especially difficult if you get on the wrong side of the pin, and they aren't easy to read. But soak up the scenery; Rio Secco, which is also home of the Butch Harmon Academy of Golf, offers great views of the mountains above and the Strip below.

On the subject of views, another good choice is the 36 holes of Revere Golf Club, also in Henderson. Marketed as 'revolutionary,' both the Lexington course and the Concord course (designed by Billy Casper and Greg Nash respectively), are routed in and out of canyons around streams and lakes and high above Las Vegas for some of the most impressive views in the area.

Besides Bali Hai, Walters Golf also offers Royal Links Golf Club, a tribute course that pays homage to the great venues of the British Open. The castle-like clubhouse and authentic Scottish pub inside really set off the experience.

The TPC Las Vegas is also a great choice to get the feel for Sin City golf. Promoted as 'desert elegance,' this stunning course with views of the Red Rock Canyon was designed by Bobby Weed and Ray Floyd. It's also home of the PGA Tour Academy, which offers an array of excellent instructional programs.

Value-priced golf in Las Vegas
To put this category in perspective, you have to remember we're talking Las Vegas here, where even the more economical plays have a certain flare and level of service you don't find in most golf markets. These are courses that can generally be played for less than $100, often much less, but generally don't lack in conditioning and interest.

Back in Henderson you'll find two great plays in Siena Golf Club and its sister, Arroyo G.C. at Red Rock. The former is a Schmidt-Curley design that offers spectacular conditions and will keep your interest from start to finish – it also has an impressive restuarant and clubhouse. Arroyo is an Arnold Palmer design just a couple miles away. It, too, has plenty of great holes, terrific service and impeccable conditions.

Desert Pines Golf Club, another Walters Golf course, is a Dye Designs track that also takes you out of the desert. With bentgrass greens and more than 4,000 mature pines, this tight course offers a number of risk-reward opportunities and a taste of Carolina Sandhills golf. It also has a double-decker range open at night.

Other more economical choices include Tuscany Golf Club and Rhodes Ranch Golf Club, both of which are really nice Ted Robinson designs; the 27 holes of Black Mountain Golf Club; Silverstone Golf Club (also 27 holes); and Angel Park, which has two championship-level courses as well as a very inexpensive short course called Cloud 9 that everyone should play.

And then there's Las Vegas National Golf Club, which has undergone several name changes over the years. It's old-school Las Vegas, a former haunt of the Rat Pack and the site of one famous golfer's very first PGA Tour win. Back in 1996, a young Tiger Woods won the Las Vegas Invitational there, and although it is overshadowed these days by the bigger, grander casinos and golf courses, Las Vegas National is still a nice walk in the park with plenty of stories to tell.
Getty Images

Teenager Im wins season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

Getty Images

Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

Getty Images

Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.

Getty Images

The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.