LAS VEGAS - The Travel Golf Guy's world, despite being colored by the brilliant green hues of a lush fairway, is inexorably black and white. That is why I have no reservations about penning this proclamation:
Sin City is, and will always be the ultimate guy getaway.
Time was, the proverbial boyz bash was all about hot dames and late night gaming. Even as recently as the early '90s, golf ranked just below "play nickel slots" on the Glitter Gulch "to do" list. Proof? You didn't see any sticks in back of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn's car in the movie Swingers did ya?
But enter the mid and late '90s and presto: one of the most prolific explosions of resort and daily fee golf this side of Myrtle Beach in the '80s. All the big name courses you've come to associate with Vegas - Reflection Bay, Las Vegas Paiute, Rio Secco, TPC Canyons, the Badlands, Red Rock, Siena, Bali Hai, Bear's Best (the list is legion) - have sprung from the parched Mojave desert floor in the past five to 10years.
Now, the debauchery of a guys getaway can include - check that - should include - a couple rounds of golf. Where? And what about beyond golf? There are, after all, 24 hours in a day and golf only absorbs five or six of them.
Again, the Travel Golf Guy's world unfolds in black and white. Here's one guy's list of the best guy getaway haunts:
Best golf course for guys - Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas: The cart girls (on most days) are calendar material, the beer is as cold as the Colorado River is low, and the course (oh yeah, the course) is hands down one of the best tracks in the Southwest. Reflection Bay is Jack Nicklaus at his resort golf best - elevated tees, dramatic green complexes, holes running along the banks of an overtly man made body of water. The 19th hole even has a private club men's locker room feel to it. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.
Best sports book for guys - Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino: Duck into the Luxor sports book and check out the cramped, smoky room with all the lines scribbled on a greaseboard. OK, now go check out the SB in the MBRC. That's what we're talking about! The television screens come in three varieties, big, bigger and just plain ridiculous. The lines are presented on a behemoth, illuminated board and there's plenty of seating. The sports book bar has video poker and if you make an honest commitment to sit there and win (or lose) some cash, the beers are usually comped.
Best daylight hangout for guys - the Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino: Mandalay touts the Moorea as "the Vegas spot with the South Beach Vibe." If this slogan doesn't bury the needle on your guy-o-meter maybe it's time to take your equipment into the shop. Tops are optional at this little slice of heaven and the typical cross section of women hanging around the MBRC resembles a photo shoot for a Maxim Magazine. Set amid the resort's 11-acre beach, Moorea is guarded by a frosted glass wall so beach goers can't see in, but Moorea goers can see out.
Best nightclub for guys - tie, the Beach and House of Blues Foundation Room: What guy really wants to hang out in one of those chic Euro nightclubs where dancing and form fitting clothes aren't optional? The Beach presents the fellas with a number of options, including a 24-hour-a-day sports bar. What's more, there's not a single day of the week that goes uncelebrated. Two strong back-to-backers are Sunday and Monday, ladies night and college night, respectively. If you want to go upscale and avoid breaking out your tired rendition of the running man, the House of Blues Foundation Room (top of Mandalay Bay) is the place to see and be seen. Just make sure to wiggle your way onto the list.
Best side trip for guys - Pahrump: Tales of this small outpost's brothels are not exaggerated. Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but not here in Nye County. The brothel lineup includes the infamous Chicken Ranch, Sheri's Ranch, and the Cherry Patch. The original Chicken Ranch was an illegal "bordello" established in 1905 in La Grange, Texas. It earned its namesake during the Great Depression by accepting chickens in lieu of cash and actually was regarded by locals as a "community service." I digress. If attempting a Pahrump brothel sweep, opt for a quick nine at Mountain Falls Golf Club (nine holes, soon to expand to 18.) If you're in it for the golf, check out the nearby 18-hole Willow Creek Golf Course.
Sin City east? Not exactly. While Vegas is back to touting its dark side (the town's new slogan is "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas), the Grand Strand still is hammering home its family values. Tune in next week as Travel Golf Guy puts the beach's integrity to the test.
November 3, 2003