Harrah's ushers Las Vegas National Golf Club into a new era

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS - Most people who have played golf in Las Vegas know the history of Las Vegas National Golf Club. Self-proclaimed as "just a driver and strong 3-wood from the Strip," the club ranked as a favorite haunt of the Rat Pack and Vegas old-schoolers.

Las Vegas National Golf Club - Strip
Las Vegas National Golf Club remains just a short cab ride from the Las Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas National Golf Club - StripLas Vegas National Golf Club - No. 18Las Vegas National golf course

The facility has also hosted at least 20 professional tour events. In fact, Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event, the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, here when Las Vegas National - then known as Las Vegas Hilton Country Club - fit as part of a three-course rotation.

Over the years, though, Las Vegas National lost some its luster. As local developers moved tons of earth to create artificial elevation changes on signature golf courses, Las Vegas National slipped into the shadows.

But Harrah's Entertainment, which now manages Las Vegas National, has sought not only to revel in its history but to present Las Vegas National Golf Club as a significant, vibrant part of today's Las Vegas golf scene.

Harrah's officials refer to the 1961 oasis-style golf course as the "New/Old Las Vegas National Golf Club."

Las Vegas National Golf Club "is classic and timeless in design," general manager Scott Greer said.

"You will find no desert golf here," Greer said. "The only rocks you will find on the property are at the bar in our cocktail glasses."

It's also the only golf course with green fees of under $150 near the major Las Vegas hotels, he said. And a cab ride from the Strip costs less than $10. "If you want fun golf while in Las Vegas, this is the place to play," Greer said. "We're serious about our fun."

Harrah's Entertainment knows a thing or two about operating top golf courses in Las Vegas. The company also owns and operates award-winning Las Vegas golf courses Rio Secco Golf Club and Cascata - both respected, high-end facilities - in addition to other notable golf courses nationwide.

Las Vegas National's pace-of-play incentive

A key to fun on the golf course is a good pace of play. It's why Las Vegas National is adamant about keeping rounds to no longer than four and a half hours, even on weekends.

Course marshals keep players moving, even joking that they are armed. Better yet, management rewards players who finish in less than the allotted time with a free hot dog and a beer or soda.

Among the other changes at Las Vegas National Golf Club, Harrah's plans improvements to the clubhouse and a renewed commitment to conditioning of the golf course.

The club also features new Callaway rentals. And Harrah's boosted its lesson program, which offers the use of a lighted range.

Site of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame

The golf course was designed by Bert Stamps, who created a straightforward but deceivingly tough layout. The golf course plays at 6,800 yards, but this par 70 is no pushover.

The par 3s, for example, are some of the best and most challenging in the area, with the 14th capable of stretching to more than 240 yards.

One of the most appealing aspects of Las Vegas National Golf Club, though, is the clubhouse, which presents a real sense of history. The piano bar was a favorite hangout for the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, and Las Vegas National also served as the site for several scenes in the movie "Casino."

And there's the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame, dedicated to honoring the players, administrators, benefactors and groups who have served the game of golf in Las Vegas in a positive and meaningful way. Members of the Hall of Fame include Tommy Armour III, Robert Gamez, Butch Harmon, the Las Vegas Founders and the NCAA champion 1997-98 University of Nevada, Las Vegas golf team, to name a few.

The museum-quality exhibit also features photos, memorabilia and stories from the great moments in Las Vegas golf history, including wins by Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Wright, Jim Furyk and Arnold Palmer. The exhibit is free and open to all golfers at Las Vegas National Golf Club.

Find more details about the Hall of Fame on Las Vegas National's official Web site. It's also a good place to check out rate specials, including opportunities to get free Callaway rentals.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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