My golf trip to Vegas - Transatlntic Challenge (lots of words!!)

mashleyR7

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I wrote this soon after I can back but been waiting to be able to back it up with nice pictures to make the read worth it but they're not going to be fixed for a few more days so i'll post the words anyway.

This is my write up of the trip to Vegas I've just come back from (17/02). Just words for now until I sort my photos out to post.

I won my place on this trip at a Marriott hotels corporate golf day. As you'll all probably know, usually at these things the winner might get some balls or a t-shirt. At this day I thought the winner might get a hotel stay maybe, it being held by Marriott. However with some bandits out there I never hold out much hope of winning them in the first place.

Anyway, after the round I knew I was in with a chance, but even then I thought someone will have beaten me. When he read out my name as the winner I was pleased (not shocked at I did shoot +2 for 45 points) but when he went on to read out the prize I was amazed. Seven days in Las Vegas, all expenses paid, 5 rounds of golf in a 14 man team playing a Ryder Cup match against a USA team. Wow!

I wasn't the only winner on this day though, the Hertz car hire winner was a chap playing off 15 who shot 38 points.

This was back in July 14 so I've bored the pants of everyone since then. They're probably all glad Ive been now! :)

The rest of the team were made up of qualifiers from the Daily Express national knockout comp, similar to the Golf Care, Nike etc.

The day finally arrives and I meet the team at Gatwick on Monday morning. I've been in contact with the organiser prior to the day but did not know any other member of the team. Luckily it turns out to be a general mix of normal people, some in their 60's, two of three my age (35) and the rest between the two. A range of handicaps the lowest being 5 the highest being 16. In fact from the 14 man team 3 were single figures, 5 were 15/16 and the rest were 10/11. Gladly on 10 I didn't feel out of place.

Pretty soon (at 6am) the beer had started as had the banter. Most of the team were in pairs except for me and one other chap who won the same day as me. So although each person had one mate with them not everyone knew each other.

There were two lads from Limerick Ireland, two from Bushey Hall GC, two from West Herts, a member from Wentworth, two from Scotland, members at Carnousite and Glasgow CG and me from Ashford, the chap from Herts wasn't a member anywhere and the rest I cant remember.

We arrived in Vegas after a 10hr flight and the time is only 2pm local time. Some sensible people went for a nice meal a few drinks and then got an early night. Some sat on black jack tables until the evening then went to bed. I did all three, dinner, plenty of drinks and a bit of black jack and craps. I eventually went to bed midnight local time feeling very merry having been up 24 hrs.

However, I wasn't the worst....the chap I left at the black jack table was a still in the same seat when I woke back up at 5am and went down for breakfast. I went for something to eat, came back and he was still there at 6am. I gave him a little reminder that the bus was picking us up at 7:45!!

Day 1's golf was a practice round at Reflection Bay just outside Vegas city at the resort of Lake Las Vegas. From the moment we arrived at the club everything was taken care off, clubs whisked away, breakfast provided, drinks ready and the range stocked up with unlimited balls. Once we'd eaten and drank we made our way outside into the 25deg heat at 10am to take in the scenery and make our way to the range. The clubs arrived on our buggy, in our pairs, having been cleaned and prepped, the buggies were stocked with socrecards, pencils, tees and drinks. All nice touches so far.

As this was a practice round we were just put in random pairs playing in 4 balls. I was paired with Martyn who was the 16 hcp winner from the same day as me. We were playing against Ian and Frank from Scotland. We lost 3&2 but as it was just a knock about it didn't matter.

Chatting as we went round it turns out Ian is Ian Hart, former director of Rangers Football club who worked alongside Walter Smith in 2014 ish. Ian is still very much involved with the club and it was very interesting listening him to talk about the current state of affairs, Ally McCoist, Mike Ashley, the Amercian chap who tried to take over recently and numerous other things. I wont repeat most of what was said because he was being very frank and I'm sure it wasn't meant for a wider audience but it made for a great round.

The course was fantastic, a up & down course set into the hills working its way between the large houses and swimming pools. It's a Jack Nicklaus design. I'm not up to speed on course designer traits so not sure if this course is typical Jack but several holes ran alongside the lake so water was a feature throughout the round. We played it off the black tee's which measures 6,862 yards. Plenty long enough for me any day.

The greens were very difficult, very hard and very fast. Total opposite to the frosty, wet and bumpy greens i'd been playing on until now. I'd say we have our green this fast once or twice a year in the UK!

Overall, taking into affect the slight hangover, jet lag, excitement, great company and huge amounts of food I was happy with the way I played. I drove well, pitched well but putted badly, mainly my lag puts either going far to long or miss reading the huge breaks from the undulations.

After golf we were bused back to town, quick pint in the bar then started conversations of what the evening plans were going to be! I sensibly opted for a nice steak meal a few pints and little game of craps and a pretty early night! I was however awake at 4am so went for a quick game of black jack with some pie-eyed gamers!!

Day 2's golf was back at Reflection Bay, playing four ball better ball. Over breakfast we got the chance to meet the USA team which was made up of a mixture of people of all ages just like us. I assumed that they too had qualified through a knockout comp too but in fact the USA team are just a team of friends from the Vegas and Nevada area of come together each year to play against the UK team. They were all friends and pleased to see each other as well as the trips organisers who the also knew well.

I was paired with Peter from Bushey Hall CG who was a 16 hcp. We was paired against a monster of a man playing of a 4hcp and not so monster of a man playing off 8. Unfortunately, Peter had an off day and I was left carrying us both. From early on it was clear that the two had played with each other before as they took plenty of time on each hole weighing up the options of each shot, lining up the puts and taking advice from each other over every aspect of the game. Something that I've never seen pairs in the UK do. It clearly worked as we got beaten, I can't remember by how many but it wasn't close!!

The 4hcp turned out to be a chap called Dusty Allen who played major league baseball for the San Diego Padres before a big money move the Detroit Tigers. He moved for millions of $ in 2000 on a 15 year contract but only a year in got injured and had to retire, however he still got paid the full 15 yr contract!!! Playing of 4hcp he hit the nicest, highest and longest draw I've ever seen he was averaging 300 plus on every drive hitting little wedges on par 4's and 5/6 irons in two on par 5's. Magnificent golf and very good company, very gracious and very generous with the drinks cart, not allowing us to pay for thing! His playing partner was an older chap playing of 8hcp very steady but not tight as Dusty. Still great company and a pleasure to play with. His daughter is Anglea Stanford current LPGA tour player. Both Larry and Dusty are member at TPC Summerline in Vegas where they hold the Shriners Open. Chatting to them about membership and they ask how much ours costs, my reply of £1,100 must have made them chuckle....... TPC Summerline has a joining fee of $15,000 and monthly subs of $840!!!!!

Back to the course, Reflection Bay. Dusty says that he rates the course as one of the top 5 in Vegas in terms of difficulty and layout. He went onto explain that the whole resort has been derelict for the last 5 years as the previous investor went bust, the course has only been re-open since January and that the greens were only laid in December which is why they were playing very hard and almost impossible to stop a ball on unless you had tremendous back spin, as Dusty did of course! Even being fairly used to playing links golf with hard, fast running surfaces, it was hard for me to judge the greens or the bounce and roll. On the par three 9th I hit an 8 iron which pitched before the green and ran all the way across, off the other side and into the lake :(
 

mashleyR7

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On day 3 the golf moved north to an Indian reserve called Paiute and The Paiute Golf Resort. We were down to play the Wolf course, which I'm told is the best out of the three they have there, all three courses are Pete Dye designs.

Today was a bit cooler than the rest of the week so far and the there was even a bit of dew on the range and chipping green when we go there. The same hospitality was on show today, clubs whisked away, cleaned loaded onto the buggy and driven to the range once we had had breakfast. The facilities here were massive, each 18 holes course has it's own full size 10-15 bay driving range with unlimited balls, it's own chipping green and bunkers plus a large putting green. With the cooler and softer conditions I was looking forward to getting out on the course and being able to attack some pins and get the ball to hold.

We played the Wolf course off the Black tee's at 7,009 yards and today's format was Pairs Scramble matchplay. This is a format I've never played before so I was looking forward to it. It's the same as Texas Scramble except there is no limit to the number of drives you can take from each player and with the way that I'd been driving the ball the last couple of days I was confident we'd do well. I was partnered with Chirs and 16hcp. Playing against and 11 and 5 hcp from the USA team.

One the first tee I was feeling good, as always the USA gave us the honor and I hit my drive straight down the middle, as did Chris, both sitting pretty with good distances. Up stepped Andrew (see the pictures when I upload them) a short man of no more than 5.5ft tall 11 hcp, nice swing and boom smashes his drive down the fairway. I think it was still rising when it went over our drives! Another long day ahead of us. Even his partner the 5hcp looked surprised. It turns out Andrew is a wrestler and underneath his baggy t-shirt was a bulk of muscle!!

The game started well with a three halves, but the 4th hole felt and looked like a driveable par 4, even though the card states 496 yards. I decided I could make it, despite the distance. I hit it well and down the middle, plenty of run on the fairway but ended up in a fairway bunker that just out of sight down the hill. Up stepped Andrew and whack straight over the bunker I was in, rolled out nicely to just come up to the fringe. At this point the 5 hcp came into his own, BJ Talkington was his name, a pilot with Southwest Airlines. From Andrew drives he chipped in and their game took off.

Andrew booming the drives and BJ Talkington knocking them stiff every time! The game ended on the 14th hole which must of made the result 5&4?

The 16th hole is the signature hole, an island green par 162 yards from the black tees. Pin blipped at 165. Our opponents to tee 1st. BJ Talkington turns and say $20 in on this hole, a half and the money goes in the whip. WTF I though go on then!! We are in Vegas after all. BJ and Andrew then spend what seems like 15 mins discussing the wind, the carry, the slope of green, the angle of the sun the ins and out of a ducks .... only for them to both put their balls in the drink ha ha, ha ha!

Back goes the 7i and out comes the 6i, nice smooth swing and bang, smack in the middle of the dance floor, on the right tier of the green about 10 ft. I took the two putt and the money!!

Day 4 was back at the Paiute resort to play the Sun Mountain course, the 3rd course here according the the yanks. Playing of the yellow markers at 6,630 yards. All was good again until I'm told i'm playing my good old pal Dusty Allen with his 4 hcp and perfect huge draw and his partner Marshall a 7ft tall mountain that made Dusty look like a midget. All was not lost though as I was paired with a 5 hcp Simon from West Herts CG. I was pleased to be paired with a good golfer for the 1st time in the week.

We started with a half and that was all we got all day I think!!!! We ended up loosing 7&6.

The frustrating thing was that my driving was superb again, I hit every fairway but just couldn't get the rest of my game going. No matter what we did Dusty & Marshall just kept making birdies. I think they finished 6 under as a pair! Another loss was registered.

So far I'm the only player not to bring in a point, not even a half!!


Saturday was the final round of the week. A drive south about an hour to Primm Valley. We were playing the Lakes course. Again right from the off the hospitality was spot on, although I'm not sure if the hospitality offered any 'extras' as all the club girls were young tanned and very very friendly. I gave me a weird sense of unease!?

This course wasn't as well presented as the others so far, the grass was scorched and the bunkers weren't as well kept. That said Vegas has been experiencing the hottest February for 35 years year and temperatures have been in in the late 20's this week. Apparently they have to be careful with the water and plan to use most of it during the summer so with the unusually hot temperatures and the lack of water a few scorched fairways is to be excepted.

The course itself was different to the rest, quite a few undulations and what even would could be classed as hills. Lots of dog legs and as the name promises a few lakes.

Onto the first tee and we're playing matchplay singles, but in four balls, so two matches going along at the same time. The hospitality went beyond necessary here, the buggies were strict path ways only and some of these fairways were wide. So if you were on the left hand side and the cart path was on the left you had a long walk to make. So to alleviate this each group was provided with a young girl who would wait by the buggy while we walked to ours balls and measured the distance, we'd then shout out to the young girl what club or clubs we wanted and she'd bring them over to me!! Service or what....... however this did create some confusion at times with the wrong clubs being brought and lots of shouting to be heard from other fairways.

Playing singles matchplay I was playing against a drafted in chap playing off 16 so giving him 6 shots. I played much better and raced into a three hole lead with 3 straight pars. Then the drinks cart arrived.

The chap I was playing against has had a serious cancer and he's been ill for a long time. He was very much up for having a laugh and insisted he bought us a pack of beer and a very large, very strong, very hot bloody mary! This drink must have been more than a pint with half being vodka. From here my game petered out but the day became more fun. In the end he pulled some holes back and we went into the final two holes level. He blew up big time and I only had to bogey both the last to win 2up and register my first point of the week! :) By the end of the round we'd had a few beers and 3 of the bloody marys!

That was it. All golf over and the end to a very busy, very enjoyable superb event! The final evening we stayed a Primm and had a BBQ dinner with both teams staying late on and having a few drinks. The overall match was a unanimous victory for the USA team 89 points to 40 something, a white wash. Our only excuse was that the USA were mostly going home to their families and own beds, we wasn't.

I think I averaged 3 hours sleep a night....but that's for a different perhaps private thread as what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and from the behavior of some of the lads it's best that way.

Once we were back in Vegas after the final days golf I'd manged to get us into one of the night clubs Marquee on a freebie, so we all got changed piled in there and came out once it was light. More black jack was played, money was won then it was lost and by the time we got to Monday morning, it was time for a few hours sleep before traveling home.

The whole trip was great from start to finish, probably not done justice by this write up! I know in the past it's been discussed about bandrity that exists in the these type of competitions but if you ever get to a final then im sure you will enjoy it! It's got to be a worth a £25 punt each year?

A few things that stuck in my mind from the week:

1: Slow play ruing the game? Yes, certainly this week. Each round was 5.5 hours plus depending where you when you were out. I was on the tee on time for my first tee time but 20 mins late tee'ing off! It's clear to see that USA team were cuplrits of this, and it'snot something that's bothering them. From those not playing seriously enough and not being in the right place at the right time etc some spending 15 mins buying and talking to the drinks cart girl, to the serious players taking ages over each shot and discussing every possible outcome before changing minds three times.

2: The two guys from Limerick actually telling me that where they come from it is common practice for handicaps to be kept as high as possible. When I asked why, he simply says "Because the prizes like this are so good, why would be you single figures?" This guys was 11, more like 6 or 7! Out and out bandit, but couldn't see anything wrong with it all. When I said in the UK the challenge is to get as low a hcp as you can, he just laughed. He was a lovely guy but clearly a bit dim and totally unaware of what they're all doing. Good job i'm not playing against him.

3: The standard of the USA team. Everyone I played against played like a much better golfer. They can't of all been having good days. The 11hcp was clearly better than me, I'd say easily a 7/8 he didnt miss a thing. Do they have a different system over there?

As soon as I've sorted out my laptop and got the pictures off Iphoto i'll upload them for everyone to see.

If you've read this far then thanks :)

Ash.

(excuse spelling and typos)
 

stevek1969

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Sound slike a great trip ,your point 3 is very true I've played with loads of guys from the area and they are all pot hunters, one lad a cracking fella playing of 16 left handed was one of the best ball strikers I've eve seen he burst it around Portstewart in a gale in +6 you could tell he should have been a Cat 1 player but he just laughed
 

Odvan

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Superb write up and sounds like you've had a complete and utter ball. Another 7 days and you'll have probably just about recovered!
 
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Good write up, enjoyed reading it but how can the guy from Herts (Hertz) possibly qualify for this sort of thing if he isn't a club member and therefore doesn't have an active handicap? Unfortunately, it smacks of banditry :eek:
 

SugarPenguin

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Great read!

I think if you are a brit on a lads trip to vegas and you are playing against people who live in the local area you will get battered on and off the course :)
 

mashleyR7

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Good write up, enjoyed reading it but how can the guy from Herts (Hertz) possibly qualify for this sort of thing if he isn't a club member and therefore doesn't have an active handicap? Unfortunately, it smacks of banditry :eek:

My assumption is that Marriott & Hertz bought the entries from the organisers of the trip. They then hold their corporate golf day and invite business associates and use this as the prize. As we didn't know this was going to be the prize when accepting the invite there would be no prior incentive to act like a bandit. This chap just simply isn't a member of a club and just plays corporate golf days so calculates he's a 16hcp. In reality I think he was more 20!! :rofl:
 

chrisd

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Unfortunately what went on tour didn't stay on tour - and I'm lumbered playing with Buffalo Bill in this Sunday's comp! :whistle:
 

Cheifi0

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Thanks for the write up. Whets the appetite for my trip over at the end of the month. Unfortunately I wont have as much golf on the itinerary.
 

Golfmmad

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I have to say, that was one of the best reviews I've ever read on here!

Very interesting, well written and thoroughly enjoyable.

Those yanks and their handicaps though.......:whistle:

Thanks for sharing........and please don't forget the pics. :thup:
 

CMAC

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nicely written :thup:

looking forward to the pics :thup:

one question, how do I enter this comp in 2015?:smirk:
 

Smiffy

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The chap I left at the black jack table was a still in the same seat when I woke back up at 5am and went down for breakfast. I went for something to eat, came back and he was still there at 6am.

The "warm up" of Champions!!
:thup::thup::thup:

Great write up. Sounds an absolutely fantastic trip and can't wait to see some piccies
 

turkish

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Excellent write up and very interesting that you talk about Ian Hart as he is not well liked by Rangers fans would love to have known what he said!

I would absolutely love to go a golfing holiday in Vegas... Maybe one day!
 
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