Golf is Much More Than a Four Letter Word in Nevada
Nevada is a hard place to define. In golf terms, coming up with a succinct definition of this state is more difficult than hitting safely on 16 during a hand of blackjack. The fact is that golf in Nevada is as diverse, unique, intriguing, fantastic, decadent, exciting, abundant, and enigmatic as most things are in this state. And that diversity is evident both in course design and in the players who routinely tee it up in the Silver State.
As you will see throughout this website, there are countless local and state tournaments, won annually by a wide range of golfers, that make up the fabric of Nevada golf.
Golf in Nevada Highlights
Some of the world’s most famous celebrities and sports stars annually descend on the Reno/Tahoe area for the American Century Championship at Edgewood Tahoe. The marquee event of the celebrity golf world attracts the likes of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, Greg Maddux, and many more to Lake Tahoe’s shores. The event has become an annual beach party as thousands of fans flock to the water’s edge in boats or beach chairs to partake in adult beverages and/or catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity.
Down south, golf diversity is always on full display. Celebrities, athletes and politicians tee it up on the 60 + courses in the area and several major celebrity events have taken place in the city. Plus the UNLV Golf team won a national championship in 1998 and the UNLV Women’s Golf team has developed into a solid Top 25 program.
Professional golf also has a home in Nevada. Both sides of the state annually hold events on the PGA Tour, and for a short time, Las Vegas was the host city of events on the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and Champions Tour. The Reno-Tahoe Open, known now as the Barracuda Championship, is played in the north while the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open is played in Las Vegas, where more than 100 professional tournaments have been played. Tiger Woods earned his first PGA Tour victory at the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, and he annually hosts Tiger Jam, a major fundraiser for the Tiger Woods Foundation, in Southern Nevada.
Golf courses and their designs also run the gamut in the Silver State. There are snow-capped mountain and high plain courses in the North; intriguing small-town layouts located in parts where 99% of travelers and residents will never be; and stunning golf courses that paint the barren desert green in the South.
“When I think about Nevada golf, the first thing that comes to mind is that there is a lot of it,” says Matt Ginella, one of the top golf travel experts in the world through his work for Golf Digest and Golf Channel. “And another thing is that there are only a handful of states in America that can offer the diversity of golf found in Nevada. It’s hard to even compare the courses of the Reno area to those in Las Vegas.”
The perception of golf in Nevada also doesn’t mirror reality. Because of the state’s world class lodging, entertainment, shopping, gambling, and overall Wild West stigma, golf usually isn’t the first four-letter word that people think about when it comes to Nevada. But those watching closely know the real deal.
A Nevada expert also points to the diversity of the little white ball around the Silver State.
“The one point I would have to make is that, overall, golf in Nevada is far better, and far more varied, than a lot of folks think, with a load of value,” says Vic Williams, a former Nevada resident who covers golf across the globe as Executive Editor of PlayGolfGetaways .com. “Golf in the Vegas area is an extension of the city itself: through ingenuity, creativity and a whole lot of money, the best golf courses bust out Vegas desert geography limits. On one extreme is Shadow Creek, which is as far from classic desert golf as you can get, and on the other is Cascata, which is equally as beautiful but embraces the desert fully. Then you’ve got the whole red rocks/moonscape vibe up in Mesquite, Nevada, which really gives the south a cool, colorful dimension people might not expect. Up in Reno-Tahoe, the courses take full advantage of the region’s more varied topography and climate. Edgewood Tahoe and Incline are pretty much the height of mountain golf, while down in the valley the experiences run the gamut from pure desert golf at places like Eagle Valley, ArrowCreek or Wolf Run to classic parkland courses such as LakeRidge to a combo like the Lakes course, the original layout at Genoa Lakes.”
So there is Nevada golf best described in a few words. And we didn’t even get around to discussing the 30 or so PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, and Champions Tour professionals who live here. Heading that list would be Northern Nevada native and LPGA Tour Hall of Famer Patty Sheehan, a 3-time Nevada State champion while at Wooster High in Reno. A close second would be Inbee Park, a two-time Nevada State Champion while playing at Bishop Gorman.
Proving the diversity that is Nevada, Sheehan was a world class junior skier prior to ever picking up a golf club.
Only in Nevada …
Check back for more Nevada golf history at this official website of the Nevada State Golf Association.