Las Vegas’ talent pool of collegiate and professional golfers is getting deeper.
Oregon sophomore Aaron Wise, who won the NCAA championship Monday, is turning professional and moving to Southern Nevada. Wise, 19, has worked on his swing with TPC Summerlin pro Jeff Smith since his freshman year with the Ducks and is scheduled to make the move next week.
Smith, who also works with Las Vegas native and PGA Tour pro Scott Piercy, was at Eugene Country Club in Oregon and watched Wise become the first NCAA champion in 37 years to win before his hometown college crowd.
“One of Aaron’s best gifts is his ability to adjust during a round to how his swing feels and to also bounce back after adversity,” Smith said. “He had two double bogeys during his final round and made birdie on the next hole each time. That was the key to his championship.”
Smith said Wise’s move to Las Vegas was solidified when he was medalist at the 72-hole Canadian PGA Tour qualifying school in early May. A benefit of the victory in Canada was receiving access to the two Las Vegas TPC courses, owned and operated by the PGA Tour.
Wise will have plenty of other places to play over the next few months because of his NCAA title. Smith said several PGA Tour sponsor exemption invitations are in the works for Wise.
“He is a special talent and has a tremendous future in front of him,” Smith said. “His ability to drive the golf ball is what sets him apart. He is one of the straightest drivers I have ever seen when he wants to be, but can also shape the ball left or right off the tee. His driver is definitely a weapon for him.”
Senior Challenge hits Las Vegas
Local golfer Jim Bianco, a member of the UNLV Golf Foundation, will oversee his final U.S. Senior Challenge tournament next week. The event runs from June 6 to 9 at Spanish Trail Country Club and features about 100 players from around the country.
The tournament was created in 1985 and is an official Golfweek Magazine point tournament. Bianco has been executive director for 16 years.
Hall of Fame Classic Pro-Am
Play the Top 100 Cascata and honor the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame Class of 2016 on June 27. A team of four plus a pro is $1,000 and includes a gift bag, lunch and other surprises. Visit LasVegasGolfHOF.com to sign up. The new inductees will be announced next week.
More than 490 golfers played this week in the 14th annual Mesquite Amateur, one of the largest amateur tournaments in the world. Thirty-seven states were represented, along with participants from Canada, England and Thailand.
Officials from the Southern Nevada Golf Association handled scoring and rules duties. The courses played were Conestoga, CasaBlanca, Oasis, Coyote Springs, Falcon Ridge and The Palms.
Deal of the Week
Check out the Rio Secco website for local summer rates. June rates start at $59.
Cheers to Diane
Beverage cart attendant Diane “Inky” Incorvaia celebrated her 25th work anniversary at Angel Park on Wednesday. Angel Park features two 18-hole courses designed by Arnold Palmer, and local discount membership cards are available.
International Women’s Golf Day
The inaugural Women’s Golf Day is Tuesday, and Rhodes Ranch, Bear’s Best, Canyon Gate and Golfsmith are listed as part of the festivities. Visit WomensGolfDay.com for details.
Aces in the hole
• SouthShore at Lake Las Vegas member Dan Ellis knocked in a 6-iron on the eighth hole from 168 yards, the sixth hole-in-one of his career.
• Two students of pro Mike Davis — Ronda Henderson and Janet Weber — played in a Nevada State Women’s Golf Association event in Truckee as partners and both made aces.
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 email@example.com or @LVGolfInsider.