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Las Vegas Gambling, Golf And Good Times

In my previous writings I spoke about my Myrtle Beach and Disneyworld golf vacations, which are two excellent choices for golf and vacation destinations, no two ways about it. I had been alternating between both places for about ten years and had some great times but we were ready for a change, for something different. Where would we go next ? I had always wanted to return to Las Vegas since my first visit there in 1976, but just never had the opportunity. I had stopped in Las Vegas for three days on my return trip home from my Honeymoon in Hawaii, my favorite place on the planet, met some friends there and had a blast.

In 2002, my 50th birthday was quickly approaching and my significant other surprised me with a gift that I did not expect, a four day golf trip to Las Vegas. Can it get any better ? I guess maybe a five or six day trip would be better but she wanted to make sure we did not go broke while we were there so four days was a good compromise. We were staying at the MGM on Las Vegas Blvd., more commonly known as “The Strip”, where most of the more famous hotels in the city were aligned. From Mandalay Bay, The Luxor, Excalibur and New York, New York on the one end to Circus, Circus, The Riviera, The Sahara, and The Stratosphere on the other, and The Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Paris and Bally’s in between how could you go wrong ?

Then there was the golf. Upon review of the available golf courses we chose three venues that we thoroughly enjoyed. We played Bears Best, a Jack Nicklaus design and who is my favorite player of all time, as some of you may remember from a previous writing, Angel Park, an Arnold Palmer design and another magnificent golf venue, which includes three courses, The Mountain being my favorite, and last but certainly not least is Bali Hai, adjacent Mandalay Bay, right on the Strip. Jacks’ Bears Best course was designed by utilizing the signature hole layouts of some of his other outstanding golf course acomplishments to date and reproducing them in the Las Vegas landscape. The green fairways contrasting with the desert mountains and sand dunes in the background was a breathtaking site, especially if you have never been in the desert before. Angel Park was also very enjoyable and there was a great view of the golf course and a real green miniature golf course, (the only one I had ever seen) right off the dining veranda and the club house. It was a great setting for lunch as we took in the gorgeous panoramic view. Bali Hai was as exotic as the name exudes. With well over two thousand Palm Trees imported by the course designers, and many thousands of other varied forms of exotic plant life, complimented by the beautiful white sand bunkers, it added a tropical touch of the South Pacific to the desert, a unique and fun innovation to say the least. After 36 holes of golf at Bali Hai, my birthday celebration meal was a real treat. Dinner at the elegant Wolfgang Puck, “Cili” restaurant located right on premises, in the club house, at the Bali Hai golf course. The design and the ambiance of the restaurant and clubhouse was a continuation of the tropical theme so blatantly displayed on the golf course. Great food, fine wine, dessert and espresso with a touch of Sambuca to top off the meal, which included some live piano music playing in the background was the icing on my birthday cake so to speak.

After our dining experience at Cili’s we headed to the casinos. New York City is known as “The City That Never Sleeps”, but Las Vegas is the literal personification of that expression. We walked from one end of the Strip to the other stopping at almost every well known Casino in town and all the joints were hopping no matter what time we went in. New York, New York, MGM, The Bellagio, Caesars, Bally’s and Paris were our favorite stops. I actually won a few grand at The Bellagio but gave it right back at the Paris, but you only live once ( or do you ? – a topic for another time)so having fun should be the priority. It’s only money. Once you become enamored with the casino atmosphere and lack of daylight and get into a hot run on the Blackjack or Craps tables, it is very easy to transpose night and day. The hours pass quickly and I see many people having dinner at 5:00 or 6:00am and breakfast at 10:00pm or midnight for that matter. Since we were playing golf , we usually went to sleep around midnight and were out and about by 5:00am or so the next morning, which is when we noted the varied dining habits of the habitual gamblers and night time crowd.

As we strolled down the Vegas Strip I could almost feel the presence of some of the larger than life personalities who frequented Las Vegas in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy and the rest of the Rat Pack to name a few. I was especially reminded of Frank because Frank Jrs.’ face was plastered on the big sceeen video monitor and he was singing all of his dads hits and doing a pretty good job of it at that. Wayne Newton has been a lifer in Vegas and is still as popular as ever. Las Vegas has perhaps the biggest line up of top notch entertainment in the world. Wayne Newton, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Tony Bennett and The Blue Man Group plus the first class Magic acts and much more all entertain in Las Vegas. The list of famous Las Vegas personalities from the Golden Age would not be complete without including mention of perhaps the most well known and idolized entertainer of all time, Mr. Las Vegas himself, the veritable “King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley”. His name is synonymous with the hierarchy of Las Vegas Royalty, they don’t refer to him as the King for nothing. The list goes on and on, but just check on line if you are planning a visit and you will note a dozen or more top rated shows at any particular time you may choose to plan a trip there. On our next night we walked the entire Strip again (aka Las Vegas Boulevard) starting at Mandalay Bay and finishing at the Sratosphere. We stopped in a least a half dozen Casinos, including MGM, New York, New York, Paris, Ballys’ and The Bellagio. The lights were incredible and the water light show in front of The Bellagio was most enjoyable and entertaining. It also kept me out of the casinos for a while longer and saved me some dough which made the time spent there that much more rewarding.

We revisited Las Vegas about four months later and we got some great deals on golf and hotel rooms. I guess they figured they should lower the rates for anyone crazy enough to play golf in 114 degree temperatures. It was tough I must say, but we played and still had a good time, wet face cloths and all. It was another wonderful vacation under our belt and they just keep getting better. If you’re considering Las Vegas for your next trip, I can guarantee you won’t be bored. It truly is the “City That Never Sleeps”. You can get some terrific packages, both for golf or just to stay and play at the resorts. Las Vegas is truly the ultimate playground for the over 21 crowd. Happy Vacationing and Golfing To All!

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