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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Vegas History at it's Finest

Vegas History at its Finest

Las Vegas National is old-fashioned golf with a contemporary kick

Story by Bill Bowman

Golf history comes alive at Las Vegas National Golf Club, both on the course and in the clubhouse.

The course, designed by Bert Stamps and opened in 1961, is Vegas history at its finest. The famed Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford for you youngsters) used to hang out and play at Las Vegas National…as well as entertain.

It’s one of those courses that has stood the test of time where bunkers, ponds, streams and trees add beauty and challenge. Ah yes, those majestic trees. These have matured and line gorgeous fairways. The course reaches 6,721 yards from the tips (but some tees are in the process of being revamped and moved back) and plays to a par 71.

“We’re an old-style oasis course,” says Coy Wood, general manager of the course just minutes north of the Las Vegas Strip. “We have 1,400 trees and we’re all grass. It’s not like playing a desert course.”

On the course, the opening and closing holes are Vegas…there’s gambling involved. Both are par 5s that are reachable in two…if you take your best shot. The first hole plays 533 yards from the tips. But, bunkers to the right off the tee on this dogleg right hole must be avoided. Then comes the challenge. The second shot is into a green with a pond right and bunkers long-left and short-right. The green does slope from back to front to help players hold the green.

Then there’s the 18th. At 538 yards, the hole, perfectly called ‘Casino,’ is definitely reachable in two…providing your drive avoids the pond on the right. The second shot (or third if players lay up), is into a green guarded front and back by two huge bunkers.

While Las Vegas National prides itself on being old-fashioned golf, players who haven’t teed it up in awhile will notice changes…with plenty more on the way.

Las Vegas National is one of those courses that is just fun to play. Plus, Wood says people will be impressed both on and off the course. “We are the history of Las Vegas golf,” he says. “The Rat Pack used to play here. They filmed the movie Casino here and landed an airplane right on the course. There’s a lot of history.”

And that history extends into the clubhouse, as Las Vegas National is also home to the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame exhibit. From the early times (1927: the first golf course is built in the area of what is now the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino) to historic moments (Tiger Woods shot a 1-under-par 70 at Las Vegas National en route to his first PGA Tour win at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational), it’s all here including memorabilia from players and events.

And there’s one more bit of intrigue at Las Vegas National. Try the GolfBoard instead of a golf cart. It’s a novel approach for you and your clubs to surf around the course.

In the spacious Rat Pack Bar & Grill, there’s plenty of room to stretch out and relax before and after the round. A wide variety of dining options, from salads to sandwiches to wraps, will satisfy even the pickiest eater.

There’s more to come. Wood adds they are working hard to improve the product. “We’ve enlarged all of our greens this year,” he says. “We want to keep it exciting for people…make it more challenging. We want to keep improving.”

Las Vegas National Golf Club

1911 E. Desert Inn Road, Las Vegas



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