Golf is the other green of Vegas

By Bill BowmanOctober 13, 2009, 7:32 pm
LAS VEGAS – After hours and hours at the tables, it's time to hit the other green velvet in Vegas-the lush fairways of some of the best golf courses in the world.

After all, this is Vegas. Would you expect anything less than top-notch golf course design? We didn't think so.

Located right on the Strip are two beautiful layouts, Bali Hai and Wynn. And just a short limo ride away are the stunning layouts of Shadow Creek and Cascata.

shadow creek
Shadow Creek is about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, but it's a world away from any desert course you've ever played.
'Playing one of these premier courses will simply extend your 4-star treatment from the resort to the golf course,' says John DeMarco, Director-Travel Tourism for

But before you put down those dice, or throw that 10-deuce off-suit into the muck and head to the course, talk with the dealers working the tables. Many of these guys really know their stuff when it comes to golf. They spend their off-hours on the golf course with their buddies and are in-the-know when it comes to where to play. Or at least where they get the best bang for their buck. They'll be the first to tell you the course they played that morning is great (or they will also warn you to stay away if they didn't have a good experience). They also know and look for deals themselves.

And talk with the casino hosts. If the resort does work with a golf course, and you've spent some time (and money) at the tables, you just may get a better deal on the golf than you thought possible.

Oh, and if you do have a great time, don't forget to tell that dealer thanks that night with a little tip of your own.

So after you cash out, it's time to cash in on some great golf. Grab your phone and make the call to set up your perfect tee time.

It's Casino Month in the Courses & Travel section, where we'll uncover the best casino/golf experiences from around the U.S.

- Verona, N.Y.
- Las Vegas
- Biloxi, Miss.
Bali Hai Golf Club

Located on the south end of the Strip, this Brian Curley/Lee Schmidt design is a breathtaking trip to the tropics, complete with stands of towering palms, brilliant white-sand bunkers, more than 100,000 tropical plants, deep-blue water features and an island green. The bright-green fairways are offset beautifully by volcanic rock outcroppings.

The par-71 design stretches out to 7,002 yards from the tips and gives players impressive golf and Strip views.

The island-green 16th plays back toward the clubhouse and players will often find an audience on the patio of Cili Restaurant (another great reason to stop at Bali Hai).

The 17th and 18th holes are two of Vegas' finest. Both par 4s play more than 480 yards and will test even the biggest hitters in your group. The second shot into No. 18 will stimulate the senses as well as challenge the club selection. A large bunker guards the front-right of the green and meets up with a shimmering pond giving players a beach-type view.

Wynn Golf Club

On the opposite end of the Strip is Wynn, a 7,042-yard, par-70 masterpiece designed by Tom Fazio (with plenty of input from Steve Wynn). The former site of the Desert Inn Golf Club (which played host to the PGA Tour for many years), this revamped course is brilliant from start to finish. After all, Wynn knows no boundaries when it comes to golf course design having put his early touches on another Fazio masterpiece - Shadow Creek.

At Wynn, players will meander through 50-year-old trees giving the course a feeling of solitude. And all of that is just a few feet away from their room or suite.

On the course, players will tackle awe-inspiring creations from the first to the 18th hole. And what an 18th hole it is. The finale is a picture-postcard design. From the tee, players take aim at a wide, inviting fairway with a stream flowing on the left. In the distance is the green with an inviting waterfall splashing behind.

But, look closer. You'll also see more of the famed Vegas skyline and the monstrous Stratosphere Tower in the background.

The views - and the golf - are priceless.

Shadow Creek

Okay, it's not on the Strip. It's a 15-minute limo ride to the course. That's right, limo ride. See, you can't play Shadow Creek unless you're a guest of an MGM property. Your course fee to play also includes the limo ride to and from the course and a caddie. It's an impressive way to get to an impressive course.

This is another Tom Fazio design and this one has everything that makes for a world-class course. And more.

From the moment you step out of the limo, you're treated like royalty. Your clubs and shoes are whisked away to the locker room. You'll have the chance to warm up on a secluded practice area (each of the hitting areas is isolated between rows of trees).

On the course, the revamped Shadow Creek has been expanded and can stretch to 7,560 yards. Each hole is an entity unto itself and you'll be hard pressed to see any other golfers while you're playing.

Thousands of trees, beautiful streams, perfect fairways and greens and breathtaking views from tees to greens await players on each and every hole.

While there could be 18 signature holes on this course, the finishing two will definitely stand out while players have their post-round meal or drink.

The 17th is a 164-yard par-3 with a postage stamp-sized green. The elevated tee gives players a great view but a pond in front of the green and a waterfall behind can certainly be distracting. The view and challenge of this hole alone are almost worth the price of admission.

The finale, a 527-yard, par-5 is as devilish as it is challenging. Only the biggest of hitters can get home in two so mortals need to play it smart off the tee. With water all the way down the right side in the form of three ponds fed by waterfalls, keeping the tee shot and second shots left is a must setting up a wedge to a narrow green that is guarded by rolling hills, trees and flowers. Needless to say, pin-point accuracy is a must.


Rees Jones' design is a little longer ride from the Strip than Shadow Creek, about 25 minutes, but it's still more than worth the price of admission.

The gates at Cascata swing open as players arrive at the course to reveal a golf destination that will impress and amaze.

Cascata, a Harrah's property, is located in southeast Vegas. The par-72 layout reaches 7,217 yards from the tips. But it's not just the course that is top-notch. It's the views and the service that helps put this experience over the top.

Players head downstairs where their clubs and caddy await. Once seated in carts, the doors to Cascata swing open (just like a ride at Disneyland) and golfers are hit with stunning views of the course - an adult version of Disneyland.

On the range, players will see a huge waterfall cascading from the mountain high above. The water flows down the mountainside and through the clubhouse-that's right, through the clubhouse. Ahead lays 18 holes that take players on a roller coaster ride up, around and down the mountainside.

Picking two of the more scenic holes is almost impossible. But the 14th  a par-4 with amazing views and a glass-like pond fronting a narrow green, and a zig-zagging par-5 18th which plays around a mountain with a stream and pond also coming into play, will do nicely.
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"The Men In Blazers" Hosting Nightly Show From The Open, July 18-22 on NBCSN

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 1:55 pm

Show to Include Off-beat Interviews, Unique Features and Men In Blazers Distinctive Takes on The Open

VIDEO: Men In Blazers: Carnoustie Through the Years Hosting The Open

Culminating in France’s thrilling win on Sunday, NBC Sports’ critically-acclaimed The Men In Blazers – Roger Bennett and Michael Davies – have spent the past month breaking down all of the action surrounding the FIFA World Cup. However, there will be no rest for the duo as they leave behind their Panic Room studio in the “crap part of SoHo” in Manhattan to host a nightly show in conjunction with The 147TH Open. The show will feature the pair’s signature, unconventional style in providing unique takes on golf’s original championship while “sporting an arsenal of the finest golf sweaters that could be found on eBay.” Originating from Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland, Men In Blazers will air nightly on NBCSN Wednesday, July 18 through Sunday, July 22.

In addition to delivering a series of features for NBC Sports’ coverage surrounding The Open, the nightly Men In Blazers show on NBCSN will offer expanded highlights following each round; off-beat interviews, special guests and cameos; along with non-traditional stories highlighting cultural elements relevant to Carnoustie and The Open.

“Both Davo and I grew up with The Open being the heartbeat of our sporting year,” said Bennett. “To cover it from that beautiful monster that is Carnoustie is the honor of a lifetime. We look forward to savoring every attempt to tame Hogan’s Alley, the futile battle between man and nature, and all those ‘subtle’ Ian Poulter wardrobe changes, in equal measure.”

Dedicated features being showcased over the duration of the week include: a retrospect on past Opens having been staged at Carnoustie; an in-depth recollection of the unforgettable 1999 Open; an introduction to the second-oldest golf shop in the world; a history lesson on Carnoustie and its influence on golf around the world; and an examination of Carnoustie’s local delicacy known as “bridies”.


Wednesday, July 18               11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Thursday, July 19                   11-11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Friday, July 20                        1-1:30 a.m. (NBCSN, Saturday overnight)

Saturday, July 21                    11:30 p.m.-Midnight (NBCSN)

Sunday, July 22                      10-10:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

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Woods delofts 2-iron to use off Carnoustie tees

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 1:23 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods has been effective this season hitting a 2-iron off many tees, reverting to a version of the stinger shot he made so popular.

This week at baked out and brown Carnoustie he went to the next level, adding a new 2-iron to his bag that he bent to 17 degrees, down from his normal 20-degree version.

“I took a few degrees off of it, just trying to be able to have the ability to chase one down there,” he explained on Tuesday.

Woods said he still carries the club about the same distance, from 245 to 250 yards, but “it gets to its final destination much differently [on the ground].”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Obviously, it rolls out whereas mine back home, I've generally liked having it 20 degrees because I can hit the ball into the par 5s as an option,” he said. “This one's not really designed for hitting the ball in the air to par 5s as an option. It's more of a driving club.”

After playing two practice rounds, Woods said he wasn’t sure how much he would use the new 2-iron given the dry conditions which have led to ridiculously long tee shots, and he said he might adjust the club more if the course doesn’t slow down.

“If it softens up, it could be a good club,” he said. “If it doesn't soften up, then I might just add a degree to it and keep it a little softer and not have it so hot.”

The Open is the second consecutive event where Woods has added to his bag. At The National earlier this month, he went with a new mallet-headed putter that he plans to continue to use this week.

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Europeans out to end the recent American dominance

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 12:59 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In golf’s biggest events, the Americans have left the rest of the world feeling red, white and mostly blue.

If you’re wondering whether the U.S. currently holds a meaningful title, the answer is probably yes.

Golf’s four majors? Yep.

The Ryder Cup? Indeed.

The No. 1 player in the world? Absolutely.

The Presidents, Solheim, Walker, Palmer and Curtis Cups? Uh-huh.

It’s been a popular talking point at the men’s majors, as Europe’s finest players have been peppered about why they’ve all seemingly fallen under Uncle Sam’s spell.

After all, the Americans haven’t ripped off five major wins in a row like this since 1981-82 – when Justin Rose was still in diapers.

“I don’t know what I’d put it to down to,” the Englishman said Tuesday, “other than the American boys in the world rankings and on the golf course are performing really, really well. The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong.”

Since 2000, the Americans have taken titles at eight of the nine courses on the modern Open rota. The only one they’ve yet to conquer is Carnoustie, and that’s probably because they’ve only had one crack at it, in 2007, when an Irishman, Padraig Harrington, prevailed in a playoff.

Not since Tom Watson in 1975 has a U.S. player survived Carnoustie, arguably the most difficult links on the planet. But Americans ranging from Dustin Johnson to Tiger Woods comprise six of the oddsmakers' top 10 favorites, all listed at 25/1 or better.

“America, there’s no doubt about it, and there’s no other way to put it, other than they have an exceptional bunch of players at the moment,” Tommy Fleetwood said. “It just so happens that it has been a run of American golfers that have won majors, but at the same time, they’ve generally been the best players in the world at the time that they’ve won them.

“You don’t really look at them as a nationality. You just look at them as players and people, and you can understand why they’re the ones winning the majors.”

Indeed, there’s not a fluke among them.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Since this American run began last summer at Erin Hills, Brooks Koepka (twice), Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed have hoisted trophies. All were inside the top 25 in the world when they won. All were multiple-time winners on the world stage before that major. And all, most ominously for Europe, were 29 or younger.

“There’s a bit of camaraderie amongst all of them,” Rose said. “I know Brooks and Dustin are incredibly close, and you’ve got Rickie (Fowler) and Justin Thomas and Jordan as a group are all really close. It’s working really well for them. They’re spurring each other on.”

That’s why there’s even more anticipation than usual for the Ryder Cup. The Americans haven’t won on foreign soil in a quarter century, but this band of brothers is better and closer than those who have tried and failed before them. Couple that with a few aging stars on the European side, and there’s a growing sense that the Americans could be on the verge of a dominant stretch.

That should sound familiar.

During an eight-major span in 2010-11, the most common refrain was: What’s Wrong with American Golf? International players captured seven consecutive majors, including six in a row at one point. They took over the top spot in the world rankings. They turned the Ryder Cup into a foregone conclusion. In the fall of 2010, Colin Montgomerie pounded his chest and declared that there’d been a “changing of the guard over to Europe,” and it was hard to find fault in his reasoning.

“European golf was very healthy a few years ago for a long time,” McIlroy said. “It seemed like every major someone from the island of Ireland turned up to, we were winning it. It doesn’t seem that long ago.”

Because it wasn’t.

So even though it’s been more than a year since an International player held any title of consequence, these types of runs are cyclical, and Europe in particular has no shortage of contenders.

Major drought or not, McIlroy is a threat every time he tees it up. Rose turns 38 in two weeks, but he’s playing arguably the best golf of his career, recording a top-10 finish in a ridiculous 17 of his past 21 starts. Fleetwood is fresh off a runner-up finish at the U.S. Open, where he closed with 63. Jon Rahm is a top-5 machine. Alex Noren just won on the Ryder Cup course in France.

“I think Tommy, clearly, showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that dominance as well,” Rose said. “So it’s not like we’re a mile behind. It’s just that they’re on a great run right now, and there’s no reason why a European player shouldn’t come through this week.”

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Links to the past: Tiger's return revives Open memories

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 12:51 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods rekindles his love affair with links golf this week at Carnoustie, which seems about right considering his introduction to the ancient ways of the game began here on the Angus coast.

It was here on the most brutal of the Open Championship rota courses that a 19-year-old Tiger first played links golf at the 1995 Scottish Open, an eye-opening and enlightening experience.

“I remember my dad on the range with me, saying, ‘Are you ever going to hit the ball past the 100 yard sign?’” Woods recalled on Tuesday at Carnoustie, his first start at The Open since 2015. “I said, ‘No, I'm just enjoying this. Are you kidding me? This is the best.’”

During this most recent comeback, Tiger has been all smiles. A new, relaxed version of his former self made calm and approachable by age and the somber influence of injury. But this week has been different.

During a practice round with Justin Thomas on Monday he laughed his way all the way around the brown and bouncy seaside layout. Much of that had to do with his return to the unique ways of links golf, the creative left side of his brain taking the wheel from the normally measured right side for one glorious week.

He talked of game plans and strategic advantages on a parched pitch that has seen drives rolling out over 400 yards. At his core, Tiger is a golf nerd for all the right reasons and this kind of cerebral test brings out the best of that off-the-charts golf IQ.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Although there are no shortages of defining moments in Tiger’s career and one can make all sorts of arguments for what would be his seminal moment – from the 1997 Masters to the 2008 U.S. Open –the 2006 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool stands out, based on near-perfect execution.

In ’06 at Liverpool, which played to a similar shade of dusty yellow as Carnoustie will this week, Tiger hit just a single driver, opting instead for a steady diet of long irons off tees. For the week he hit 48 of 56 fairways, 58 of 72 greens and rolled the field for a two-stroke victory and his third, and most recent, claret jug.

This Open has all the makings of a similar tactical tour de force. For this championship he’s put a new 2-iron into play that’s more like a strong 1-iron (17 degrees) and imagines, given the conditions, a similar low, running menu.

“It could be that way,” Woods said when asked the similarities between this week’s conditions and the ’06 championship. “I'm not going to hit that many long clubs off the tees, just because I hit a 3-iron on Monday, down 18, I went 333 [yards]. It can get quick out here.”

If Tiger ever needed a major championship confidence boost the Carnoustie Open would be it, an inspiring walk down memory lane to a time when he was the undisputed king of golf.

“[The ’06 Open] is the closest you can compare to this,” David Duval said. “But I struggle to remember that golf course being as fast as this one. It was close, but this one is something else.”

Ernie Els had a slightly different take, albeit one that was no less ominous to the rest of the field this week.

“Liverpool is on a sand hill, this has a bit more run to it,” Els said. “But it’s got the same feel. It’s almost like St. Andrews was in 2000. Very, very fast.”

It’s worth noting that Tiger also won that ’00 Open at the Home of Golf with an even more dominant performance. It is the unique challenges of the links test that make many, even Tiger, consider the Open Championship his best chance to continue his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors.

More than any other Grand Slam gathering, The Open is blind to age and the notion of players competing past their prime. In 2008 at Royal Birkdale, then-53-year-old Greg Norman flirted with the lead until the very end, finishing tied for third; a year later at Turnberry, Tom Watson came within one hole of history at 59 years young.

“It certainly can be done,” Woods said. “You get to places like Augusta National, where it's just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately. That's just the way it goes. But links-style golf courses, you can roll the ball. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

Whether this is the week Tiger gets back into the Grand Slam game depends on his ability to replicate those performances from years past on a similarly springy course. As he exited the media center bound for the practice putting green on Tuesday he seemed renewed by the cool sea breeze and the unique challenges of playing the game’s oldest championship.

Coming back to Carnoustie is more than a reintroduction to links golf; for Tiger it’s starting to feel like a bona fide restart to his major career.