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Recap Golf, More Golf & Topgolf: Luxor 6/12-6/14

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS
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    Prelude: My good golf buddy and I both play in many of the Greenskeeper.org golf outings, which frequently feature vouchers for Vegas golf courses as raffle prizes. Having two of these certificates between us – one for a free twosome at Arroyo and another for a free twosome at Siena – was all the justification we needed to plan yet another Vegas golf getaway. Summer rates on golf made it even more enticing, and the fact we both had access to free rooms via myVegas made it a done deal.

    So we each booked a night at Luxor for free and then began slotting our golf schedule by taking advantage of some great “Hot Deal” rates on GolfNow.com. By a few days prior to departure, our schedule was all set, including a 7:35 tee time at Arroyo on the day we arrived in town. Which meant…
     
  2. M_ILIS

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    Day One: Sunday, June 12, 2016

    …I arrived at my friend’s house in Irvine at the absurdly early hour of 3:15 am. As one would expect, we encountered no traffic and made it into Vegas by about 6:40. We grabbed some breakfast at a Jack in the Box drive-thru and made our way to a very busy Arroyo parking lot for early Sunday morning. Inside the pro shop, we learned there had been some sort of computer glitch that allowed several groups of people to book tee times on GolfNow that weren’t actually available, so they were scrambling to accommodate everyone and actually did a good job of it. As a result, we started about 20 minutes late but it wasn’t too big of a deal.

    If you’ve read my golf trip reports previously, you might remember my friend is on a mission to play as many different courses as possible. (His total is upwards of 760 now.) We’d played Arroyo together a couple years ago, but seeing we had a voucher to play for free and we both like the course, he was okay with returning. It was the only course on our itinerary either of us had played previously.

    The course was in great condition. Unfortunately, as I often do when I look forward to a round too much, I played terribly. I was something like 12 over par after five holes. But then on No. 6 I stuffed my approach shot to about six feet, made the putt and began a stretch of playing the next nine holes in three under! Then I fell apart again and made a mess of the end of the round, and shot 87.

    Here are some pictures from Arroyo:

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    With the late start, our window between rounds had closed somewhat, and we raced across town for our 1:30 tee time at Royal Links. We each got a hot dog in the bar, which turned out to be one of the absolute best hot dogs I’ve ever had in my life. They sprinkled some sort of spice mixture inside the roll-like bun that added some heat, and the all-beef hot dog itself was fantastic.

    Royal Links is comprised of an assortment of holes “inspired by” famous and semi-famous holes from authentic links courses across the pond. Seeing I’ve never been to Europe, I’ve never played golf there, so I looked forward to what was supposed to be a pretty genuine re-creation at Royal Links. Both my friend and I agreed that regardless of whether or not the holes were based on existing holes elsewhere, Royal Links stands on its own as a good, fun course. Conditions were pretty good but it would be more authentic if they had the fairways playing a little firmer and faster than they were. As an added bonus, it was quite windy Sunday afternoon, making the whole experience even more realistic (although I doubt it’s ever 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the UK).

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    Having been up since 2:00 am and playing 36 holes in near 100 degree heat, I was whupped after the round and ready to go check in and relax. The clouds were really cool looking over the Northwestern valley on the way to Luxor:

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    Almost there!

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    We checked in and were given a room on the sixth floor of the pyramid, which made for easy access on the elevators throughout our trip. It had no view (looking out on the Luxor towers) but we were only in the room for maybe one waking hour each day anyway. Here’s the view from the front door:

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    I’d never stepped foot inside Ellis Island, let alone tried the (in?)famous steak special, but it’s always intrigued me, so I convinced my friend to give it a try. (He’s a sucker for chicken fried chicken, so when I saw that on their online menu, I knew my odds were good.) So after getting cleaned up, we drove over to Ellis Island, got our player’s club cards and I played the requisite $5 through a machine to earn an additional $2 off the steak special. Then we went to the cafe, and it soon became obvious we’d underestimated what we’d gotten ourselves into when the host informed us it would be an hour wait for a table! On a Sunday night in June!

    My initial reaction was to walk, but my friend pointed out that by the time we drive anywhere else, it will likely be 30 minutes so we may as well just play for a bit in the casino and wait for a table. So that’s what we did. I got one of their house brewed Hefeweizens and really liked it. Then after maybe 30 minutes, they texted me that our table was ready. I had also hit a nickel quad, which ended up basically paying for my dinner.

    My friend got the chicken fried chicken, I got the steak special, and we split an appy of fried mozzarella. The fried mozz was great. The steak was just decent overall, with my request for medium rare more on the medium side. But for $8.99 including salad, baked potato and delicious garlic green beans, it’s a pretty amazing deal.

    After dinner we each played a little more to earn some freeplay on our new player’s club cards, and then we stopped at Tropicana on the way back to Luxor to do some gambling there. (My friend loves UTH and was hoping Trop had $5 tables, but no luck. They were all $10 minimum.) I found a nickel STP machine and lost $40. Then we headed back to Luxor and I found a 50-play nickel machine that let me play just one line, and recouped some of the earlier loss. Here are some highlights from the gambling, but overall I lost $17 on night one:

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    Having been up nearly 23 hours, I turned in around 1:00 am in advance of another big day on Monday.
     
  3. M_ILIS

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    Day Two: Monday, June 13, 2016

    My friend had heard whispers that Badlands Golf Club might be closing, or part of it closing, or maybe that’s a total rumor or fabrication, but whatever the case, it was high on his priority list to play on this trip. We got a great rate for an 8:10 tee time Monday morning. We were paired with two guys who are members there, so we were fortunate to gain some much needed local knowledge, which was especially helpful on the tricked-out Desperado nine.

    One funny thing that happened was that my opening tee shot struck the 150-yard marker pole in the center of the fairway on the fly (4 iron) and nearly caromed OB! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone hit one of those aiming poles before in all my years playing.

    We played the Desperado-Outlaw combination, and after Desperado, Outlaw pales in comparison. It’s much more benign and boring, although each nine seems to get more interesting the farther into it you progress. We finished all 18 pretty quickly, so we inquired if we could possibly play Diablo as well. The pro shop guy hemmed and hawed, called some people on his walkie-talkie and eventually said yes. So we paid a replay rate and headed out to Diablo. Diablo was really nice and if you ever play here, try to play the Desperado-Diablo combination. Here are some pics:

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    At some point during the Diablo nine, we called Siena to push back our 1:39 tee time a bit and they indicated it was pretty wide open and to just get there when we can. So we hustled over there, hitting a McDonald’s en route, and teed off for our afternoon round a little after 2:00.

    Based on photos I’d seen on their website and general consensus, I really didn’t have too high of expectations for Siena. And that’s probably exactly why it was the most pleasant surprise on the trip. The layout is fantastic and the conditions were by far the best of any course we played all three days – deep green, lush grass everywhere you look. It was quite windy and I didn’t play well, but I really enjoyed the course. Here are some pics:

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    Prior to the trip, I’d arranged for a bay at the brand new Topgolf for 8:00-9:00 Monday night. We didn’t finish at Siena until around 6:00, so we were somewhat pressed for time, considering we wanted to eat dinner prior to Topgolf. All worked out well, however, giving us just enough time to take showers, walk over to Shake Shack for their delicious chicken sandwich, cheese fries and chocolate shake, and then cross the Boulevard to MGM and trek all the way back to Topgolf.

    Neither one of us had done Topgolf before. I enjoyed it, but it feels to me like it’s better suited for non-golfers than die-hard golfers. The whole place has a very lively party vibe, and Game 5 of the NBA Finals was on the huge screens, so people were all going crazy watching that. We did pick a perfect time of day to go, as the sun set and the Strip’s lights began to glitter under the night sky. I enjoyed a couple beers while sampling a few of the different games.

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    Afterward, my friend headed back to Trop to play carnie games (and subsequently, win more money) while I returned to Luxor to do some souvenir shopping for my wife, son and daughter. I stashed that stuff in the room and then parked myself at that same 50-play nickel VP machine from the night before. I quickly got down $40, but then I put in $5 more that I played on for the next couple hours. However, I never got too far into positive territory, and eventually cashed out down $10 on the night at about 1:45 am. The last hour or so of this session was also marred by an overly chatty guy who sat down next to me and acted like it was my role to teach him video poker while appearing on his interview show. I know Royal Flusher has mentioned encountering this type of person before. It’s annoying and difficult to handle when you don’t really want to move machines. Finally I pushed the cash out button, said goodbye and bolted.

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    As I returned to the room, I saw #rivieraimplosion was trending on Twitter, which reminded me it was just about to happen. I turned on the TV, waking my friend up, and we watched the tower tumble and then fell asleep around 2:45.
     
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  4. M_ILIS

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    Day Three: Tuesday, June 14, 2016

    About a week before our trip my friend was researching golf options and realized that the former Desert Rose Golf Course was reopening soon, and in the meantime, was offering limited play on Tuesday and Thursday mornings between 8:00 and 10:00. The course is now called The Club at Sunrise, and we booked their 8:00 tee time for Tuesday morning. This meant leaving Luxor around 7:00 in order to arrive around 7:30 at this course that is literally right across the street from Royal Links. (Out Sahara past Boulder Highway.)

    With the grand opening slated for July 1, the course is in great shape. However, the layout is massively dictated by the Las Vegas Wash, making nearly every hole play the same way: OB left, hazard on the right. This makes what looks like a wide-open course play much harder, both mentally and in reality. I got off to a decent start but struggled most of the rest of the round and played terribly. A few holes offer nice views of Stratosphere and other Strip hotels, but overall this isn’t really a course worth going out of your way to play. It seems it will be one of the most budget-friendly championship-length golf options in the Vegas valley, however. Here are some pics:

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    Playing by ourselves with very few others on the course, we played very quickly and finished before 11:00. My friend is a huge fan of the Mexican fast-food chain Taco Time, and on my last trip (never got around to writing a trip report) to Vegas and Zion, I finally tried Taco Time up in St. George and loved it. It turns out there’s one in Vegas, but unfortunately it’s a truck stop location across the street from Silverton. We headed there for lunch and enjoyed our crispy burritos and assorted other monstrosities. That truck stop has a little casino in it, and I ended up losing $13 after lunch before heading to our final golf destination of Spanish Trail Country Club.

    We arrived around 12:40 for our 1:00 tee time and it was very relaxed out there. We hit a few putts (fastest greens of the trip by far) and headed to the first tee by ourselves. We were slated to play Canyon-Lakes combo, but after nine we inquired if we could play all three nines, and the pro shop guy said sure. So we finished all 27 holes by 5:45. I loved this course, which is a solid Robert Trent Jones, Jr. layout and apparently a former host of the Las Vegas Invitational. The Lakes nine had back-to-back standout holes, one being a dogleg right par 5 with water on the approach, followed by a beautiful par 3 complete with several giant waterfalls and tons of flora. Here are some pics:

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    After 126 holes over three days, I was pretty worn out. We headed home but my friend was game to stop for some more gambling at Gold Strike in Jean, so we did that for probably 30 minutes. I’d never been inside there, so my curiosity was quenched by taking a quick look around. It had a very old-school vibe (in a good way, in my opinion), with a duo of singers performing at a bar in the early evening. It also had surprisingly good pay tables for nickel VP. I got dealt quad queens shortly after we arrived, but eventually lost $20 on the session. For the trip I lost a little more than $70.

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    The drive home was smooth until the end, when the fuckin’ 91 was closed in Corona, causing about an hour delay as we had to get off the freeway, take surface streets and re-enter the freeway at one point. Dinner was Freddy’s in Victorville, a semi-regular stop for me between Vegas and home.

    All in all, we played a ton of golf and had a great time. Wish I was still there!
     
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  5. Hog

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    Thanks for the report. I think I'm gonna have to give Top Golf a shot in August.
     
  6. Bighead

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    Nice report! That sure is a lot of golf each day.
     
  7. Packer

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    Very nice. I'm tired just following your tr. I want to hang with you guys! Golf, golf and more golf is the way I roll too! Great pics. Thanks. Oh, top golf, I keep saying some drunk 20 something WILL fall over the edge!
     
  8. riders

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    Great report. VP pics are always good
    I know you keep saying this but I have been with a few drunk 40 somethings at a couple of these and so far it hasn't happened. Would be interesting to see them get them out of the net.
     
  9. Packer

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    Yep, I know as I come through the ball I feel like I'm going to fall. Or could fall. Couldn't really happen as I don't actually take steps forward but if someone is drunk and wobbling there could be a man overboard. Lol.
     
  10. Dooner

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    Great report! Love the pics!
     

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