Area golfers know March isn’t just for basketball
Since the West Coast Conference moved its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments to Las Vegas four years ago, thousands of Gonzaga fans have made the trip annually to fill hotels, casinos, restaurants and seats at the Orleans Arena.
And Las Vegas-area golf courses.
There are dozens to choose from in every price range for hoop fans eager to haul the clubs out of winter storage. Gonzaga fans that left the Inland Northwest behind in early March with temperatures in the 30s arrived in Las Vegas roughly two hours later to short-sleeve weather.
The Western Athletic Conference, which includes the University of Idaho, has played its men’s and women’s tournaments at the Orleans Arena the last two years, usually starting a couple days after the WCC event. The Pac-12 Conference men’s tournament will be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena the next three years, which will bring more basketball fans to town with time to explore the golf scene.
BYU’s addition to the WCC last season prompted a change in the tournament format. The Cougars don’t play games on Sundays, inserting an off day into the schedule that many GU fans spent on the links. Gonzaga’s men typically play in the late-night (8:45-ish) semifinal and the 6 p.m. Monday title contest, giving fans an opportunity to squeeze in 18 holes before finding their way to the Orleans Arena for evening games.
“The first week of March Madness is probably the best week of the year, I think every course down here will tell you that,” Rhodes Ranch Golf Club pro Shane Sanchez said. “Typically the weather is some of the best around and with March Madness people come here from all over the country to watch basketball. And (Las Vegas) just got the Pac-12 Tournament. The whole month is a good month.”
We sampled three Las Vegas courses with green fees ranging between $28-$99, thanks in part to a group rate at a couple, and found each one a pleasure for distinct reasons. Come with us on our 54-hole tour.