Back in the Swing

Spring is time for golfers to step up their game—here are five things you should know

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

The world’s most famous philanderer—er, golfer—may not be ready to return to the links. But with the days getting longer, the weather warming and your stress level rising, you most certainly are. So to get you primed for the golf season, Vegas Seven offers you five “chip shots” aimed at enhancing your experience both on and off the course.

Get access to exclusive clubs. Let’s be honest: It’s not you who stinks, it’s your equipment. So why not treat yourself to the latest and greatest in club technology? Manufacturers will release their 2010 lines to retailers in the coming weeks, but one club that’s already hit the market is the TaylorMade R9 SuperTri. In addition to having a head that’s the size of a desert tortoise, the R9 SuperTri features “24 combinations of face angle to promote up to 75 yards of side-to-side trajectory change, all in a more forgiving head” and “launches the ball with more spin.” Or if the crooked stick is killing you, check out the Scotty Cameron California Series putter by Titleist. The driver and putter (both available at Las Vegas Golf & Tennis) retail for $400 and $300, respectively. Sure, it’s steep … but can you really put a price on a birdie?

Visit a “National” Monument. Opened in 1961, Las Vegas National is one of the Valley’s oldest courses, so it’s fitting that National is home to the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame. The shrine, which was erected last year, is displayed in the clubhouse and honors such local PGA Tour pros as Tommy Armour III and Robert Gamez, as well as longtime UNLV coach Dwaine Knight and other contributors to the Southern Nevada golf scene. Stop by and check out the artifacts, which include the winners’ trophy from the old Sahara Invitational PGA tournament. Then grab that crooked stick and try out the new six-hole, 1,500-square-foot artificial putting green that opened late last month. “Anyone is welcome to come out and use it,” general manager Scott Greer says.

A League of Their Own. In the wake of the Tiger Woods scandal, there are probably more than a few disgusted females who wouldn’t mind whacking some balls with a golf club. Enter the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort’s Ladies League. The league, which was conceived in the fall, invites women of all ages and skill levels for a nine-hole round every other Saturday at 1 p.m. “It’s already got a healthy following,” says Christie Shaw, director of marketing for the Paiute Resort, which is about 25 minutes north of downtown and comprises three championship courses by renowned golf designer Pete Dye. Don’t feel slighted, guys, as the resort will offer a men’s league at noon Thursdays beginning April 22.

Frequent Driver Programs. Long gone are the days of $200-plus greens fees (finally, something positive about the recession!). These days, you can now play a round of 18 on a quality track for less than $3 per hole. You can further slash that price by purchasing an annual club card that most courses now peddle. For example, OB Sports—which manages four courses at three local golf clubs (Angel Park, Aliante and Legacy)—sells a card for $149 that’s good through Dec. 31. Among other perks, cardholders receive unlimited golf at any local OB Sports course for a discounted rate ($49-$55 through May 30 and Oct. 1-Dec. 31; $35-$39 from May 31-Sept. 30), and the discount also applies for up to three guests (including non-Clark County residents). Similar discount programs are available at Las Vegas National, Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort, Black Mountain Golf & Country Club and many other local courses. Sure, it’s another plastic card to stuff in your wallet or affix to your keychain, but at least this one’s worth something!

Less Is More. The economy has taken a 9-iron to the local golf industry’s bottom line, so you won’t be seeing much in the way of pricey upgrades at area courses. That’s not say there haven’t been changes. Many courses in the last 18 months took advantage of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s rebate offer and underwent extensive turf-reduction programs. At Black Mountain, nearly 56 acres of turf (mostly rough) was converted into desert landscaping. “It’s made things quite a bit more user-friendly, particularly for beginners,” director of golf Joan Phillips says. “The course is in the best shape it’s ever been in.” Ditto for Angel Park, which replaced about 40 acres of turf at each of its 18-hole tracks.

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Jacob Snow, general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission, has spent his career working on ways of bringing people to Las Vegas and moving them around. In a transit-averse, auto-heavy town like this, that hasn’t been easy. Cars are happiest, he says, when there aren’t other cars around. “We’ve got a lot of unhappy cars.” And Snow thinks he has a solution to get people out of them. It’s called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and it’s about to unfold across Las Vegas.



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