Go Big in Vegas at Wynn and Cascata

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 19, 2012, 3:14 am

LAS VEGAS -- You don't need to be a casino whale to be treated like a VIP in Sin City.

Just head to the golf course for a taste of the life of a millionaire.

Vegas, as we all know, goes wildly over the top when it comes to luxury. The best courses in town might put a dent in your wallet, but there's a reason Shadow Creek, Wynn Golf Club and Cascata cost up to $500. Superior service and amenities come with a certain price. So do impeccable course conditions and good caddies. If you want an exclusive experience that will impress your buddies or a client, these are the places to go.

I haven't played Shadow Creek Golf Club, the consensus No. 1 course in Las Vegas by all the major publications, but I can vouch for the Wynn Golf Club and Cascata Golf Club. The only people who argue that playing these courses isn't worth the money probably haven't seen them yet.

The wonders of Wynn

The wonders of the Wynn never cease once you step in the front door. It’s all right there, even the golf course. The Wynn Golf Club is all about convenience for its guests.

'We have such a great location,' Wynn Director of Golf Brian Hawthorne boasted. 'Just ride down the elevator, and you're at the first tee. We average rounds of 4 hours, 15 minutes. When you are done, it's back to the other experiences.'

Tom Fazio didn't have much room, just 137 acres, to create a memorable 7,042-yard course on the old Desert Inn site, but he delivered a manicured paradise of rolling green fairways and lush landscaping. The par 70 that opened in 2005 plays pure, like a classic country club. All 13 caddies are PGA Professionals. They know golf and could probably whip you by 10 strokes if you were looking for a bet. All five par 3s are strong, each with their own challenge. The $2 million waterfall behind the 18th green symbolizes the extravagant ways of Wynn.

'What Fazio did is impressive,' said Dean Rider, visiting from California. 'He created berms right and left. Whatever hole you are on, that's all you see. The old Desert Inn was flat and boring. Each hole now stands alone as its own experience.'

Back inside, the five-star Tower suites are the cream of the resort's 2,716 rooms. The spa garnered five-star status from the Forbes Travel Guide in 2012 for the third consecutive year. Between the 15 restaurants and the 111,000 square feet of casino space, there's plenty to see and do. My favorite meals on my visit were the shrimp and grits at the Wynn clubhouse and the steak at SW. There's even a Ferrari and Maserati dealership on site.

Treated like royalty at Caesars, Cascata

The biggest knock on playing golf at Cascata Golf Club -– managed by Caesars Entertainment Corp. -- is its distance from the Strip. It's a 22-mile, 40-minute drive to Boulder City.

I look at this issue from a glass half-full perspective. Cascata feels so special because of its stark, secluded setting in a serene world of cacti and mountains as far from the frenetic neon bling of the Strip as possible.

'When you are on property, you feel like miles from anything. You don't see other holes or other groups,' Cascata General Manager Charles Packard said.

Cascata has dropped its green fee to $375, and it can be had for $300 at off-peak times.

Once golfers arrive, they're greeted at the door of the lavish 37,000-square-foot Tuscan clubhouse by their caddie for the day. Inside, visitors get a visual shock right away, a waterfall flowing through the clubhouse. This 'cascata' -- an Italian word that translates to waterfall -- flows 417 feet from the top of a mountain and around the golf course to the clubhouse. It's the first sign why this Rees Jones design cost $70 million to build.

The course, which opened in 2000, dances up and down on 450 acres with more than 800 feet of elevation changes, zigzagging through rocky outcroppings some 3,200 feet above a desert valley. The views stretch for miles, and sometimes, it feels like your ball will fly that far off of elevated tees in the thin air.

The golf course plays difficult for first-timers. Thankfully, the caddies are well versed on some of the slickest, most confounding greens in the Southwest.

'There is a lot of risk-reward (at Cascata),' Packard said. '(Scoring) is about where you put the ball on the greens. It is user friendly.'

Cascata can humble even the biggest of egos. Fortunately, golfers can drown their sorrows at the Qua Baths & Spa back at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. Qua translates to 'here' in Italian. To be honest, a guest doesn't even need a treatment to feel like a billion bucks again.

The three Roman baths inside the locker rooms are reinvigorating enough. Ancient rituals call for three distinct mineral pools, each varying in temperature and size. The Tepidarium, filled with warm mineral-enriched waters, helps to restore natural elements of skin. The Caldarium features hot mineral-enriched waters to release tension and soothe muscles. The Frigidarium, filled with icy mineral waters, invigorates and detoxifies. Start in the Tepidarium pool and then alternate between the Caldarium and the Frigidarium for maximum effect. Sauna, steam and the Arctic ice rooms relieve more aches and pains.

Not that living in luxury in Las Vegas could ever be painful.

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 17, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods teed off at 12:15PM ET alongside Justin Rose for Round 3 of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.