Palm Valley revamps its off-course play

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I’ll be frank: I am a person of dubious character. A deviant, so to speak. Of course, you say, he’s a golfer. I’ll also admit to enjoying a glass (or two) of wine on occasion. I’ll also admit I love to play video poker without budgetary concerns. I also drink milk straight from the container out of the refrigerator. Who’s perfect?

So I had to ask my friend to repeat what he just told me when he shared what might be a first here in the valley — for a golf course in Las Vegas, anyway.

I put my investigative journalist cap on and went to work. My informer had told me that Palm Valley Golf Course in Sun City Summerlin was planning to add a video poker bar in the restaurant’s bar area. A golf course and a video poker bar all in one.

It had been quite a while since I checked out happenings at Golf Summerlin. The trio of golf courses — Palm Valley, Highland Falls and Eagle Crest — are in the Sun City Summerlin community, open to the public, offer challenging golf to both the high- and low-handicap golfer and provide great value to local players.

I booked a tee time at Palm Valley. It was the first course built in the community and opened in 1989. Both the Sun City community and Palm Valley turn 25 this year. Neither looks that old.

Billy Casper and Greg Nash designed Palm Valley, and from the blue tees, it plays to 6,824 yards, par 72. It’s also the longest and the toughest of the three Sun City courses, with a rating of 71.6 and a slope of 123. Players may find that they can easily score on the course. But beware: Water comes into play on five holes, and many sand traps are strategically placed to challenge approach shots.

The opening hole is a par 5, stretching to 537 yards and offers the opportunity to bird right out of the box. The most difficult hole on the course is No. 5, a long par 4 measuring 454 yards. Traps border the entire right side, so don’t slice it. Hole No. 9 is bordered by water behind the green with the additional penalty of a sand trap protecting the right front of the green.

The back nine is a little longer, and it shows on the finishing holes. Nos. 14 through 17 are rated very tough, and No. 18 has water protecting the right side. It’s a dogleg right, and big hitters think they can carry the corner. Better be a big hitter.

As to the info my friend told me, it’s right on. It seems the Sun City community formed an arrangement with Five Star Taverns to run the restaurant operation at Palm Valley. Five Star remodeled the restaurant, revamped the menu, redesigned the bar, added a great happy hour and applied for a gaming license. Now, five months after the rumors started, I’m sitting at the bar, holding jacks and looking at the 18th green where players are finishing their rounds. This just might be the nicest place to play video poker in the valley.

Sun City Summerlin has hit the jackpot with three wonderful golf courses: Palm Valley for the challenge, Highland Falls for the views and Eagle Crest’s executive layout for a quick round — and with a creative marketing department generating unique promotions. During August, spend $50 on golf shop merchandise and receive a free round of golf. Check out the Labor Day special: play all three courses for $69, valid Aug. 26 to Sept. 1. And for a date night better than a movie, the second annual Glow Ball event is scheduled the evening of Oct. 11.

And by the look of the crowds on the course, at the bar and in the restaurant, combining a video poker bar and testing golf courses has been a wild success.

John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer. Contact him at jasay@reviewjournal.com.