Window Shopping: Midweek golf in Las Vegas tough to beat

By Brandon TuckerSeptember 20, 2012, 3:29 am

Brandon Tucker spent a few days in Las Vegas this September on the hunt for mid-week bargains, and he found plenty of them (like Angel Park, pictured right). Here's his trip report: 

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- For bargain-seekers, there is nothing quite like a mid-week trip to Las Vegas. When my brother and I flew into Vegas a few days early to play some golf before a family wedding, reverse sticker shock ensued: $23 per day for a Nissan Altima and $45 per night at a three-star hotel. Not only that, you can practically name your price for casino table limits. 

These Vegas deals stretch to green fees too, especially in September. Simply put, if your group is willing to sacrifice the fact it might be a little tougher to find a hot party than on the weekend, you'd be silly not to come up with a couple extra vacation days and bask in weekday bargains, where visitors can feel like they're getting the 'local rate.'

Seeking out midweek bargains in Vegas on the golf course

Playing Las Vegas golf in mid-September has its pros and cons. While temperatures have cooled off enough to be comfortable throughout the day, the majority of area facilities over-seed this time of year. Consequently, a few courses we'd hoped to play were closed. If you see a real bargain tee time online, there may be a catch. Over-seeding requires 7-14 days, and the week or two afterwards, playing conditions are sub-prime. Thankfully, every shop we called to inquire about their status was brutally honest about what to expect.

For example, when researching tee times the night before we wanted to tee it up, a $25, 11 a.m. rate at the Primm Valley Desert Course (normally $99 at the very least) caught our eye. I've never heard of a Tom Fazio-designed course ever costing what amounts to merely a cart fee. Suspicious, I called up the pro shop, and they told me that conditions were quite dry because they planned to close the course down two days later to over-seed. The shop did tell me the greens were rolling very well, which made us consider pulling the trigger, but we eventually opted for a course a little closer to our hotel and booked a $45 morning time at Angel Park Golf Club's Mountain Course.

The Mountain had over-seeded a week earlier, which meant our round was cart path-only, fairways had their rough patches and the greens were on the slow side. But seeing as though it was the first round of the trip and the round was about half the cost of anything else we could find that morning, we didn't mind. The facility itself is one of Vegas' most complete, with 36 holes, plus a lighted Cloud Nine par 3, a putting course and a great 19th hole. I'll certainly be back.

For the next round, we ponied up $50 for an afternoon tee time at Silverstone Golf Club, a 27-hole semi-private facility in a residential community to the north of Las Vegas. A Bob Cupp design, the course is a little longer and wider than Angel Park, which meant you could hit a few more drivers off the tee and hit a few less shots out of desert rock.

Prime time at Royal Links Golf Club

Royal Links

Cart path-only is a common casualty of fall golf in the desert, but not everywhere. For our third and final round of the week, we stepped it up and played a top area experience, Royal Links Golf Club. While it's a premium green fee ($179-199), it's worth every penny. Rather than desert golf, you're playing lush fairways and smooth, fast greens. Instead of looking for errant drives in desert rock and shrub, the rough is tall and thick, which actually turns out to be a refreshing alternative once you've been in Vegas long enough. 

While I've played enough golf in Scotland to not be overly enthralled by replica holes of the British Open, the main draw for me at Royal Links are the wide playing corridors with wall-to-wall grass to go along with high-roller service and conditions. Royal Links stopped over-seeding last fall to both promote a links-style game year round as well as healthier bermuda turf for all seasons, so the course was in perfect shape from tee-to-green, while service and amenities were pretty flawless, too.

The best part of our midweek trip to Vegas? We caught a couple hot shoes on the tables at the Silverton Casino and the week nearly paid for itself (we've been on the wrong side of the cards in Vegas before, so please excuse the gloating this time around).

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.

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Ortiz leads LAAC through 54; Niemann, Gana one back

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 8:15 pm

Mexico's Alvaro Ortiz shot a 1-under 70 Monday to take the 54-hole lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship in Chile.

At 4 under for the week, he leads by one over over Argentina's Jaime Lopez Rivarola, Chile's Toto Gana and Joaquin Niemann, and Guatemala's Dnaiel Gurtner.

Ortiz is the younger brother of three-time winner Carlos. Alvaro, a senior at Arkansas, finished tied for third at the LAAC in 2016 and lost in a three-way playoff last year that included Niemann and Gana, the champion.

Ortiz shared the 54-hole lead with Gana last year and they will once again play in the final group on Tuesday, along with Gurtner, a redshirt junior at TCU.

“Literally, I've been thinking about [winning] all year long," Ortiz said Monday. "Yes, I am a very emotional player, but tomorrow I want to go out calm and with a lot of patience. I don't want the emotions to get the better of me. What I've learned this past year, especially in the tournaments I’ve played for my university, is that I have become more mature and that I have learned how to control myself on the inside on the golf course.”

In the group behind, Niemann is the top-ranked amateur in the world who is poised to turn professional, unless of course he walks away with the title.

“I feel a lot of motivation at the moment, especially because I am the only player in the field that shot seven under (during the second round), and I am actually just one shot off the lead," he said. "So I believe that tomorrow I can shoot another very low round."

Tuesday's winner will earn an invitation to this year's Masters and exemptions into the The Amateur Championship, the U.S. Amateur, sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, and final qualifying for The Open.