Back in the days of the Rat Pack, it was the golf course and 19th Hole of choice for Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford. It was not unusual to see the boys around the piano belting out a few tunes to the delight of the patrons gathered for drinks and dinner.
Just a driver and strong 3-wood downwind from the Las Vegas Strip, LVN has hosted dozens of PGA and LPGA Tour tournaments since opening in 1961. Names like Nicklaus, Woods, Trevino and Furyk hoisted trophies there. It was host to the movie “Casino,” starring Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci. And it was the hot spot for the locals back in the day.
As the Vegas landscape began to change, however, so did the golf scene. New golf courses began popping up, and Las Vegas National began to fade in popularity. The condition of the course slipped as well. If something didn’t change, a Vegas landmark would become a distant memory.
Enter Key Golf Management. The Las Vegas-based golf maintenance company was brought in two years ago to revitalize the golf course, from the roots up.
“Since Key Management began their work here, it has been like the rising of the Phoenix, from ashes and a cloud of dirt to lush fairways and some of best greens in Las Vegas,” said General Manager Jack Stoberski.
Along with the obvious improvement in course conditions, Key also upgraded bunkers, reshaped some fairways and removed trees that had begun to impede and restrict shots to the certain greens.
“What we have now is a far cry from what this place had become,” said Stoberski. “We now have a golf course worthy of our 50-year anniversary celebration which will be held later this year. Our regulars are thrilled.”
Kip Wolfe of Key Golf echoed those comments.
“It was sad to see a true Las Vegas landmark slide so far,” said Wolfe, whose company also does the course maintenance at high-profile clubs Rio Secco and Cascata in the Vegas area. “We were thrilled to get the opportunity to restore National to something close to its heyday. We are very proud of the work we have done there. And there is more to come.”
When you walk into the clubhouse at LVN, you know you are in a special place. Photos of celebrities, golfers and events cover the walls, providing an historical timeline. And views of the golf course are available from every corner of the restaurant and bar.
What awaits golfers on the first tee is a golf experience unlike any other in the Vegas valley. You’ll play on 150 acres of grass. Whether you top it off the tee, yank it left, hit it right, or stripe it down the middle, your next shot will be played off grass. The only rocks to contend with at Las Vegas National are in the clubhouse bar, in a cocktail glass. As a result, pace of play is not an issue at LVN.
The historic nature of Las Vegas National is reflected in the fact that the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame is located at LVN. The museum-quality exhibit features classic photos and memorabilia from such Las Vegas golf champions as Jim Colbert, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Annika Sorenstam and many others. The exhibit is open to the public during Las Vegas National regular hours of operation.
“Las Vegas National Golf Club is a great choice as the home of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame exhibit because of the deep history of the course, plus the convenient location that is minutes from the Las Vegas Strip and in the heart of the Las Vegas Valley,” says Brian Hurlburt, President of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame committee.
During the 1960’s, The National played host to the big names of the Strip. The Rat Pack frequently played golf then spent time in the bar. Locals tell great stories about late night matches under the glow of the driving range lights. Many nights would have Sinatra, Martin, Lawford, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr. around the piano, entertaining their guests with songs and stories, enjoying the cuisine at the National.