We’re back and better then ever,” exclaimed Marc Orlowski, general manager of Black Mountain Golf and Country Club, 500 Greenway Road in Henderson. Very enthusiastically, I might add.
Many might remember the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story about Black Mountain in March 2011. That story reported that someone had intentionally damaged all 27 holes in the course layout, including all the greens.
“It was a misapplication of chemicals,” Marc said when recalling the incident. “We had to put up temporary greens in the fairways, we reduced our green fees and we fixed all the problems. The greens came back in 2012. The next thing was to fix the courses’ reputation — once it was damaged, it’s hard to get it back.”
And there were additional financial problems with the course ownership in 2012. Changes with personnel took place. Marc was brought on in June 2012 as general manager to help Black Mountain back to the top.
Marc is one of those people you instantly like. Face it, he’s a golf freak. He’s been teaching, playing or managing golf facilities all his life. He spent 10 years in Hawaii on Lanai. There he ran two resort courses, The Experience at Koele and The Challenge at Manele. Both are top-end setups.
“Played golf over there with Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan. Both are great golfers, even Charles,” Marc said with a smile, obviously referring to Barkley’s unique swing.
During the early 2000s, he set out to qualify for the PGA Senior Tour, a lifelong dream to play professionally. “I tried for five years, didn’t make it. There are so many great players out there. It’s a matter of timing and luck.”
In 2006, Marc came to Vegas and worked at the Aliante Golf Club. Then he moved to Black Mountain.
Black Mountain Golf and Country Club is the third-oldest course in the Las Vegas area. The Founders 9 opened in 1957. The Horizon 9 was opened in 1963. Both are traditional, tree-lined courses.
“It’s like stepping back in time to play golf. Like then, you can walk both these nines if you want,” Marc explained regarding the appeal of these nines.
The Desert Nine opened in 2002, providing a true desert course where accuracy, course management and patience pay off.
Marc invited me to play the Horizon 9. From the tips, the Horizon is a 3,261-yard, par-36. Allow me to hearken back to my salad days of golf. Or maybe just be plain silly. Teeing off on No. 1 did remind me of the first course I played decades ago in the San Fernando Valley. The Van Nuys Balboa Golf Club is where I played as a youth and shaped my game into what it is today.
Horizon No. 1 is relatively straight with no fairway bunkers. The greens are small, requiring a degree of accuracy to score well. The par-3 No. 3 features a water hazard to the right of the green, making it interesting. Both holes Nos. 3 and 4 have great views of the mountains in the distance.
It was a quick and enjoyable nine holes of golf. Marc was right: The course and the greens are in great shape. One can score really well at Black Mountain even if you’re not a big hitter. The most difficult combination of nines is the Desert/Horizon layout. It’s a par-72 with a rating of 70.7 and a slope of 132. And best of all, the rates for residents hover around $40. Good deal.
I asked Marc what were the biggest challenges facing the golf industry.
“There’s no loyalty anymore. Golfers are looking more for low prices more than ever before. The golf share of the pie is the same size, but the pieces are smaller. One good thing about the economy is that now we’ll see how good we are running golf courses. The keys: Treat every golfer fairly, make sure the course is in great condition and offer a fair price.”
Black Mountain Golf and Country Club offers affordable individual and family memberships featuring unlimited green fees, a private member driving range, a practice facility, advance tee reservation and private cart storage.
The future for Black Mountain? Marc rattled off several areas. “Build membership, increase outside play, attract more tournaments and have more events and parties for the members.” Then the one I like the most: “Consider happy hour events. Wouldn’t you rather have this golf course view than the interior of a bar or casino?”
Black Mountain’s website is golfblackmountain.com.
John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.