Las Vegas doesn't go as summer low as other desert golf, but bargains still there
LAS VEGAS - This is not a city that's big on discounts. Not with Sin City so hot right now that it's every celebrity's party playground and seemingly every rube's first getaway choice.
Sure, Vegas still does freebies. As long as you drop enough money at the tables to make John Daly take notice.
But if you're an average Joe or Jane, just try to walk up to the doorman at Pure - Caesars Palace's ultra-trendy nightclub - and ask for the "seasonal" discount. You'll not only be laughed to the back of the velvet ropes, you'll probably end up having to fork over an extra Andrew Jackson for the privilege of eventually slinking in.
General rule: Those who need to ask for a discount in Las Vegas are not going to get one.
Except when it comes to summertime golf. This is one facet of Vegas life where a regular person can feel like a VIP. Sure, it requires enduring triple-digit temperatures. But if you can take the heat, you'll save enough to eat from whatever celebrity chef's air-conditioned kitchen you desire.
"If you go in the first few weeks of June, the courses are still in great shape and the rates are down," said local golfer Scott Bowles.
Consider: You can play TPC Canyons - a course that charges $210 weekdays nine months a year - for $90 from June 1 through Aug. 31. The course might not be in the same pristine shape it is the rest of the year, but you're still shooting at the same showy No. 2 desert-island green as all the high rollers do in prime season.
Most of Vegas' seasonal discounts aren't as dramatic as you'll find in the Phoenix-Scottsdale resort corridor. This city still draws plenty of summer visitors, after all, with its myriad indoor activities. There's not as much incentive to offer truly crazy golf deals.
In fact, a few Las Vegas courses are so confident in their ability to draw high-end hackers that they offer no summer discount at all. Reflection Bay and The Falls at Lake Las Vegas will run you more than $200 a round whether 65 degrees or 120 degrees.
But a near 50-percent summer reduction is not uncommon.
Revere Golf Club is a good example. This Henderson club is annually one of the first places to drop rates: Weekdays at Revere Concord go from $170 to $95 ($55 twilight - after noon) starting May 22, while Revere Lexington falls from $190 to $105 ($65 twilight).
At Bear's Best, the popular replica course with copies of 18 Jack Nicklaus holes, rates plummet from $245 to $110 after Memorial Day Weekend.
Considering that's what many Vegas visitors drop in about a half hour on the roulette wheel and what some tip their drivers in this uniquely twisted money universe, that qualifies as a pure bargain - and prompts some golfers to play in weather that limits most of Sin City's physical activity to signaling to the pool boy for another margarita.
"I lose weight from sweating and my wallet stays a little heavier," regular Vegas golfer Chris Burk said. "You can't complain about that."
And you won't, if you follow a few simple guidelines.
Go high-end in low season: Summertime in Las Vegas is not when you want to play a run-of-the-mill course that has questionable conditioning even in March. The fairways and greens are liable to be in definite ill health in the July sizzle.
This is the season to go decidedly high end, on courses where the greens won't be patchy no matter the climate and your biggest aggravation will be remembering to reapply the sunscreen.
Exceptions can be found at mid-range courses with well-earned reputations for great course conditions, such as Painted Desert Golf Club. Thanks to Painted Desert's obsessed groundskeeper, you can be reasonably confident about your $65 summer-rate round.
Don't skimp on lodging: One of the oldest rules of Las Vegas is it doesn't matter where you stay because you're not going to be sleeping anyways. Throw this adage at least halfway out the window for a summertime golf trip. When you're swinging in 100-degree heat you're going to want a nice, comfy, very air-conditioned pad to which to return and chill.
It doesn't have to be the Bellagio or the Venetian. But this isn't the trip where you want to settle for Motel 6.
Consider the hotel pool as well. Getting submerged post-round with a view of bountiful hard bodies has a way of restoring that sun-sapped energy.
Negotiate that price: Just because golf is cheaper in Las Vegas during the summer doesn't mean it can't go any lower. There are long, hot days when head pros are going to be staring at an almost empty tee sheet. This is when you, the average golfer, hold the power. Getting those published rates knocked down isn't out of the question. Ask.
Even if the green fee stays the same, you're liable to get something thrown in for free.
"I don't think I've ever paid for lunch playing golf in the summer," Vegas regular Matt Diaz said, grinning.
This doesn't mean you're going to land a round at, say, Lake Las Vegas' exclusive SouthShore Golf Club. Even high rollers get turned down there sometimes, no matter how hot it is. But golfing in the summer is one of the few time in today's Las Vegas where the average guy holds a negotiating upper hand.
Remember that when you're waiting in that long line at the nightclub.
June 5, 2006