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NBA coach Mike Woodson appreciates game of connection

Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach and former NBA player Mike Woodson started playing golf in the 1980s around the time he was drafted by the New York Knicks. He not only loves to tee it up as often as possible but also appreciates how the game brings people together.

“I think golf is more challenging than any sport that I have experienced, and I have played sports all my life,” Woodson said. “Golf is a mental game as well as a physical game, and it offers a tremendous challenge. One day you will be on top, but the next day you can be at the bottom. But what I like most is the professionalism of it.

“Playing golf gives you an opportunity to meet people and to get to know them a lot better after four hours on the course. To me, it’s a connection game. It connects people. I believe it’s the most beautiful game going.”

Woodson hosts the third annual Coach Woodson Las Vegas Invitational from Friday through Monday, a charity event that features a tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas. It includes a coaches forum, a ladies tea, a red carpet at 1OAK at The Mirage with a performance by Grammy winner Mya, plus scheduled appearances by a slew of actors, musicians, athletes, coaches and media personalities.

Former UNLV women’s golfer Seema Sadekar is the co-host of the event, and others scheduled to attend include Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, ESPN anchor Jay Harris, actor/comedian Anthony Anderson, singer Jeffrey Osborne, former UNLV star and NBA All-Star Larry Johnson, former Los Angeles Lakers coach and player Byron Scott and actor Alan Thicke.

Woodson created the golf-based event to support Nations of Coaches, a charitable organization that helps coaches successfully live and lead others spiritually and professionally. A highlight of the weekend is the annual coaches forum at which AAU, NBA, college, high school and other coaches connect.

“Coaching is one of the most important and influential positions in the game, and I couldn’t be more excited to host this inaugural coaches forum on their behalf,” Woodson said. “The goal is to bring coaches and players together from all levels of the game to share knowledge, receive mentoring and provide feedback.”

Woodson Invitational events are closed to the public, but some tickets remain. Visit CoachWoodsonInvitational.com for information.

WELCOMING KIDS TO GOLF

First on Course-Learn to Play Golf is a new program organized by the nonprofit Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association. All classes are taught by PGA of America instructors and offered at a variety of courses.

Juniors learn the fundamentals of golf while engaging their minds and bodies in a fun and exciting setting. The six-week session is $75 and runs from July 18 to Aug. 22. Visit SouthernNevadaJuniorGolf.com or call 702-430-2600 to register.

LOCALS IN SENIOR OPEN

At least two players with local ties are scheduled to play in the U.S. Senior Open.

Jeff Gallagher, who teaches at Legacy Golf Club, qualified with a round of 68 on the Olympic Course at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Washington. He was the only player in the sectional qualifier to finish under par.

Tommy Amour III, who plays full time on the PGA Tour Champions, is an exempt player.

The tournament is scheduled Aug. 11 to 14 at Scioto Country Club in Ohio.

DEAL OF THE WEEK

Southern Nevada residents can buy 12 rounds at TPC Las Vegas, owned by the PGA Tour, for $650. Rounds are valid for play through Aug. 29.

UNLV RISING JUNIOR SHINES

Shintaro Ban recently won the California State Amateur, one of the most historic amateur tournaments in the country. Ban, who will be a junior at UNLV, joined Mark O’Meara, Johnny Miller, Ken Venturi, Jason Gore and Las Vegas resident Kevin Marsh among champions of the tournament, which originated in 1912.

The golf notebook appears each Thursday. Freelance writer Brian Hurlburt is a two-time author who has covered golf in Las Vegas for more than two decades. He can be reached at bhurlburt5@gmail.com or @LVGolfInsider.

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