With the national economy floundering and Nevada’s tourism industry experiencing lower visitor volume, golf courses in the Silver State have been presented with difficult challenges over the last two years. A brief survey of construction activity on golf courses around Nevada reveals that a few new courses are being built, and existing facilities are doing their best to attract business by remodeling courses, adding clubhouses, or branching out into more creative ventures, such as golf villas and condos.
This fall, residents of the master-planned community of Somersett in western Reno will be able to play on their own new nine-hole, par-three course. An 18-hole private championship course designed by Tom Kite is also being developed, and will be available for play in Fall 2004. At nearly 7,400 yards long, the private course will feature six lakes, 62 bunkers and 400-foot-wide landing areas. Memberships are now being sold for the private-equity Somersett Country Club. The community of Somersett, which will hold its grand opening later this month, will eventually contain 2,600 residences in seven neighborhoods, plus custom home sites.
Red Hawk at Wingfield Springs is undergoing an expansion that includes a new 18-hole private course as a companion to the existing 18-hole public course. According to Michael Sizemore, head golf pro, “We now have 36 holes, but our layout and driving range were designed for only 18, so we added another driving range, made a cart path just for the private course, and added to the putting green area. We also made additions to our short-game practice area, including a practice bunker.” The changes were completed this spring in time for summer play. A complete renovation of the golf shop was completed in May, when the shop moved into what used to be the education building at the first tee. The 4,000-square-foot, wood-paneled facility now contains space for golf equipment, supplies and apparel, as well as food and beverages.Also at Red Hawk, the first nine suites of a planned 200-suite resort are set to open in July. Villas, each containing two or three suites, are designed to resemble custom residences. Heidi Loeb, CEO of Red Hawk, said the detached villas are ideal for corporate use, honeymoon suites and golf vacations, as well as for out-of-town guests visiting Wingfield Springs residents. The villas overlook the community’s wetlands and the ninth green of the Lakes Course.
A venerable icon of Tahoe golf is undergoing a complete renovation this summer. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., The Championship Course, constructed in 1964, is part of the Golf Courses at Incline Village, along with the Mountain Course. The Championship Course will undergo an $11 million facelift that includes a completely new 22,850-square-foot clubhouse, along with a $4.5 million course renovation. The original clubhouse, known as The Chateau, was torn down this spring and will be replaced by a larger facility with meeting and banquet space, state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, three stone fireplaces and an extensive outside deck. Golf course architect Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design planned the course redesign, which will include a complete replacement of the in-ground irrigation system, as well as upgrades to the course’s greens, bunkers, tees, fairways and roughs, cart paths, landscaping and practice facilities. The Championship Course is scheduled to re-open on June 1, 2004. The Mountain Course will be open throughout the summer.
Red Rock Country Club, a 738-acre private community located in Summerlin, is currently under construction on the remaining golf holes for its two Arnold Palmer-designed golf courses. When construction is complete, it will feature an 18-hole daily-fee course, as well as an 18-hole private course for members. In addition to the new daily-fee golf course, a new clubhouse will be constructed to service daily-fee play. It will feature a bar and grill, terrace dining, golf shop, locker rooms and cart storage. Robert Altevers, who designed the award-winning Red Rock Country Club clubhouse, sports club and gatehouses, also designed this new clubhouse. Weitz Golf, which is renovating The Championship Course in Lake Tahoe, is also performing the work on the Red Rock course.
Boulder Creek opened to the public in January 2003 as Boulder City’s second municipal golf course. It is situated on 430 acres of land surrounded by park and desert. A clubhouse and two 18-hole championship courses are open now – Desert Hawk and Coyote Run. Eldorado, a nine-hole championship course, is scheduled to open this summer, and in the fall, the city plans to open a night-lighted par-three course, a second clubhouse and a training facility. Banquet facilities at the main clubhouse and an 8,000-square-foot pavilion tent will allow the golf course to be used for meetings, celebrations and weddings.
At Sun City Summerlin, the community’s 18-hole Palm Valley course will re-open this month after undergoing a renovation that included remodeling the greens and green-side bunkers and adding a new driving range.
Scottsdale-based Gary Panks Associates recently completed the design of the Aliante Golf Course, located in the master-planned community of Aliante in North Las Vegas. The new championship course is scheduled to open for public play in December. The 18-hole, par-72 facility will serve as a municipal golf course for the city of North Las Vegas. At 6,970 yards, it features a rock-lined channel running through several of the holes, which will be crossed by 14 bridges. The course will also include 54 bunkers, tall grasses, seasonal trees and flowering shrubs. Wadsworth Golf Construction is completing the work on the course, which will be managed by OB Sports. Sun City Aliante homes will partially surround the golf course, with other homesites to be developed at a later date.
Challenges Par for the Course
Located off Lake Mead Drive one mile west of Lake Las Vegas, Tuscany Golf Course will open an 18-hole, par-72 public golf course and temporary clubhouse this month, after a development process that has taken over three years. The owner of the project, Commerce Associates LLC, acquired the property in January 2000. According to Barry Fieldman of Makena Entertainment, which is managing the development for Commerce Associates, the previous owner had done preliminary work on developing the golf course, but had left two vital pieces of the project undone: a flood channel and an access road. The access road proved to be more of a problem than anyone had anticipated. “It turned into a never-ending saga,” said Fieldman, whose group at times seemed to be developing a golf course community that no one would be able to reach. The property between the golf course and Lake Mead Drive was owned by another developer, who had problems with the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) on another section of the parcel. After months of dealing with the developer, the city of Henderson, NDEP and the Nevada Department of Transportation, the road was finally finished just last month, allowing access to the golf course, which has been substantially complete since last summer. The 150-acre course was designed by a team composed of famed gold course designer Ted Robinson and his son, Ted Robinson Jr. Tuscany will be a master-planned, gated golf course community with nearly 2,000 homes. The first model homes are scheduled to open early in 2004, and a permanent 31,000-square-foot clubhouse will be ready next summer.
The developer of The Golf Club at Genoa Lakes, located in the historic town of Genoa in northern Nevada, is facing another type of difficulty in his bid to increase revenue by building 39 four-plex timeshare units and a fitness center on the 177-acre course. Local residents have opposed Mario Antoci’s plan, claiming the development would cause traffic problems and destroy the rural lifestyle of their community. For now, his plans have been put on hold.
But construction problems like these pale in comparison to the major challenges faced by Nevada golf course owners, according to Don Barsky of the Nevada Golf Course Owners Association, whose members represent over 30 Nevada golf courses. Barsky cites the twin factors of declining tourism and increasing water rates as major threats to the future of Nevada’s golf industry. “As a group, we are not very optimistic,” stated Barsky. “Due to the ongoing drought, water rates have increased dramatically. In Southern Nevada, we’re looking at a 33 percent increase this fall in the rate for potable water. A golf course may spend between $800,000 and $1 million annually on water, so a 33 percent increase could mean an additional $300,000 in costs per year.” In addition, said Barsky, drought conditions have caused water authorities to encourage golf course owners to convert turf areas to desert landscaping or other less-thirsty alternatives. “So, we have the double whammy of increased water costs, plus the expenses of conversion, which can reach into the millions,” he said.
Two Southern Nevada golf courses, Angel Park in Summerlin and Legacy Golf Club in Green Valley, recently emerged from bankruptcy proceedings involving their owner, Texas-based OB Sports LLC. The investor group that now owns the clubs is faced with the challenges of operating under drought conditions in a weak economy. Hopefully Nevada’s golf courses can hang on until the rains come, the economy rebounds and the players return with golfing money in the pockets of their plaid pants.