Duo breathes new life into old course revamped as ritzy Chimera

We all know what oxymorons are, and we probably have had some good chuckles over them. You know: jumbo shrimp, job security, business ethics, cafeteria food, government assistance, and my favorite, living dead.

I wonder if there are visual oxymorons, like when you see something that doesn’t fit in the scene. Later on this.

I thought I knew much of what was happening in the golf landscape of Las Vegas. But at the recent Las Vegas Golf Show at Cashman Center, I became completely flummoxed. Among the booths was one that touted the Chimera Golf Club. “What the heck,” I thought. Never heard of it. Sensing a story, I went over to say hello.

Turns out that the old Tuscany Golf Club in Henderson changed hands and is now the Chimera Golf Club. Of course, there is an interesting story behind the change. I met with Sean Solodovnick, the director of golf and a PGA professional, and asked him what happened. “I was the director of golf at the Gainesville Country Club in Florida for 16 years. Then I got an idea. I searched golf properties for sale and found this one. I approached a family member and talked him into purchasing the property,” Sean said.

He then asked longtime friend and golf professional Ty Rucarean to move to Las Vegas and help him run the operation. Together, they form the brain trust at Chimera. They took control of the course on May 27. Sean is 38; Ty is 28. Together, they have big plans.

“Foremost, we want to create a new environment,” Sean said. “We envision the finest public course with the feel of a private club. It’s the relaxed atmosphere and a staff that will greet you with a welcoming smile and make you feel right at home.”

Changes are on the way. “We’re going to lengthen the course to 7,000 yards. There’s nothing that notes quality like the sexy 7,000 number,” Sean said. They have added Digital Caddie GPS tablets to the golf carts. They also fully dress the carts with tees, towels and Chimera branded bottles of water.

Ty continued: “We’ve purchased a brand new fleet of Toro equipment to maintain the course in tip-top shape. We have two custom-made black Escalade golf carts and two yellow Hummer golf carts. We installed two fountains in the lakes on hole No. 1 and hole No. 18. We have re-opened the beautiful outdoor bar and grill overlooking the Strip, Old Vegas and Mount Charleston. We have videoed the entire course using drone flyovers. Finally, the golf shop is outfitted with new apparel and golf equipment.”

“Is that all?” I asked. “Oh yeah,” added Ty, “we added top-shelf liquors and craft beers on tap.”

Chimera (pronounced ki-meer-uh) was a mythological, fire-breathing monster with the head and body of a lion, a goat’s head arising from its back and a serpent for a tail. The dreaded Chimera caused havoc and terrorized the land. Sounds like my golf game.

Chimera’s predecessor, Tuscany Golf Club, opened in 2003 and was designed by Ted Robinson. At the tips, Chimera plays to 6,906 yards, par 72, with a 72.4 rating and a slope of 132. The course layout has wide open fairways and ample desert landscaping and allows for low scores.

There is trouble lurking, though. The par 4, 449-yard seventh hole is one such place. Not only is the fairway narrow; there are traps guarding left and right at the driving landing zones. There’s a huge trap guarding the left front of the green and a larger trap daring you to go long.

The ninth and 18th holes feature water hazards that are, well, hazardous. Hole No. 9 is 404 yards with a water hazard running along the left edge of the fairway. Approach shots need to be kept to the right. Add water to the back of the green, and this hole is a delight to play.

Hole No. 18 is even better. A 440-yarder, the drive is the easiest part of the hole. The approach shot is over water with a waterfall guarding the left. A large trap can catch you if your approach is long. Be sure to take in the amazing vista on this hole.

Visual oxymorons? Yeah, there was one. It seemed incongruous to me that a course of this quality would use bright red painted wooden barrels as directional signs. They didn’t fit in the scene. I had to ask Sean. He indicated that they were there prior to them taking over. They painted them red to match the Tuscany flag color. Sean finally said: “They’re tacky. So temporary; I can’t stress that enough. New PGA-style signs are on their way.” Whew!

As a way to introduce you to the course, Sean is offering a 10 percent discount off green fees through Dec. 31. Just mention my name. Better get out there and see those red barrels before they are gone.

— John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer.

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