Sunday, January 8, 2012

Round #3: Nevada: Rio Secco Golf Club

This course did not make the Golf Digest top 10 list for Nevada. It has received numerous accolades since it opened in 1997 including one of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses” by Golf Digest. It is the home of the Butch Harmon School of Golf. Butch is best known for having been Tiger Woods’ golf coach from 1993 until 2004. My son, Jack, had played this course on a previous trip to Las Vegas and suggested I should put it on my list. 
When I arrived early for my 10:20 AM tee time I was told that I may want to tee off sooner since there was a junior tournament scheduled for that morning. Apparently when the best junior players from the West coast are matched up against the best junior players from the East coast the golf rounds can last up to 5-1/2 hours. I headed to the tee box without warming up.

Round: #3
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: Not Rated
Date: 7 Jan, tee off at 9:30 AM 
Conditions: sunny skies, 5-10 mph winds, 48 degrees
Yardage: 6,927
Lost balls: 3
Score: 89 on a par 72

View down #11 fairway (Las Vegas Strip is visible in the distance)

Par 3 hole #12

The starter threw me together with two local players, both of whom lived in the neighborhood surrounding the course and were employed by Tropicana Casinos.These two gentlemen did not talk as much as the pair I played with in Scottsdale, but there were still a few interesting items worth sharing.
One of the men was Michael Mann who grew up in Arkansas; the second gentleman was Lance Millage who grew up in Davenport, Iowa. There is a Millage family in Bettendorf we have known for many years (Tim Millage married Kim Kelly who was a classmate of Jill’s and a neighbor from across the street on Hamilton Drive). It turns out there is a family relationship, but Lance was not certain of the exact connection.

Michael Mann, Lance Millage

A lot of discussion centered around real estate as we worked our way around the course. At one point they pointed to a row of houses circling the 17th green that originally sold for upwards of $5M but could only fetch $2.5M in today’s market. They were quite surprised that anyone would even consider building a new home in the Las Vegas area given the current condition of the market, but four new homes were under construction immediately surrounding the golf course. Empty lots were selling for as much as $0.5M. I suspect at least one property owner was not worried about the current market conditions. His home overlooked the #14 green and most of the #14 fairway. It was reportedly built at a cost of $150M with a magnificent view of the golf course below and the Vegas Strip in the distance. Michael and Lance drive by it daily and said it looks to be occupied only a few days out of the year. The home is owned by the man who started up eBay. 

View of homes around the Hole #17 green

The eBay villa on hole #14

The round of golf was challenging as always. The grass in the rough had gone dormant which meant it was brown and dried out. A more lush carpet of grass may have helped prevent a couple of my balls from finding the rocky terrain that extended beyond the rough. I recorded two triple bogeys and five double bogeys; the high score was partially offset by three birdies. I score an occasional birdie, but I do not recall ever getting more than two in a single round. 
The wind did kick up to about 20-25 mph for the last six holes which helped add to an already difficult challenge.

Par 3 hole #15

Par 3 hole #3

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