During NCAA basketball tournament, golf and March Madness merge in Las Vegas

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

What do you get by combining the NCAA basketball tournament, sports books, and golf packages that include tee times on great Las Vegas golf courses like TPC Las Vegas, Siena Golf Club and Bali Hai G.C.? March Madness, Vegas style!

Siena Golf Club - Las Vegas -  hole 6
At Siena Golf Club, golfers can follow the NCAA hoops action during their round, thanks continuous score updates sent to golf carts.
Siena Golf Club - Las Vegas -  hole 6Revere Golf Club's Concord CourseLas Vegas gaming

LAS VEGAS -- Filling out the office pool is one thing. Going to Vegas during the NCAA men's basketball tournament, well, that's a whole different experience. At a sports book, you can place bets on every game, pick regional winners and the overall champion, and even pick a 10-game parlay in the first round.

Then, you could literally spend 16 hours during each opening round day, following the action on dozens of high def big screens.

Or you could go play golf - at least part of the time.

"That way you're just not sitting there biting your nails," says Thom Blinkinsop, regional general manager at Red Rock Country Club in Summerlin.

Several golf facilities, like SilverStone Golf Club and WildHorse Golf Club in Henderson, feature sports news on their GPS systems. In the case of Red Rock, both Siena Golf Club and Arroyo at Red Rock will send continuous score updates to golf carts throughout the day so players won't have to be checking their cell phones or wondering if their team is covering a 22-point spread while contemplating a 10-foot putt to tie a match.

Ah, there's nothing like March Madness.

Unlike college football, there are 64 teams (after the play-in game) that all have a mathematical shot, and most of them believe their chances are real. Many of their fans do, too, and that optimism permeates, especially during the first round, when every team is 0-0.

"The first and second rounds are our big money makers," says Bill Sattler, race and sports book director for the Flamingo and Harrah's casinos. "It's really comparable to the Super Bowl overall (in terms of wagering)."

Sattler says he sees a younger crowd this time of year, many of them with ties to the college teams in the field. Those groups also tend to book group outings, especially on the weekend.

"We get a lot of groups of 12 or 16," says Dan Hammel, general manager of the TPC Las Vegas. "They like to bet the tournament on Wednesday, then come out and play golf.

Because most golf courses in the Las Vegas area will be booked solid, don't expect any discounted rates, but there are some things you can do to make sure your golf experience is rewarding.

"My tip would be to get your tee times now," says Greg Kinney, general manager of the 36-hole Revere Golf Club. "Don't book a week (or less) in advance; do it now and you'll be okay."

Like Kinney says, don't wait until the last moment. And if your schedule allows, you might even want to come at the beginning of the week when hotel rates are generally a little lower and golf rates are less as well. Plus, there will be more tee time selections, says Tony Lenzie, director of golf and general manager at Siena Golf Club.

"You could come in Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and get your bets down, then you could watch the games at home if you wanted to," Lenzie says.

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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