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Jack Nicklaus course was home sweet home for South Korean golfers

Updated March 26, 2019 - 5:04 pm

Robin Symes, an Ireland-born golf teaching professional, moved to Seoul, South Korea, in 2006 to help mold the swings of up and coming amateurs and professionals. He is still at it more than a decade later but has expanded his program to include an annual seven-week destination golf academy to avoid the South Korean winter.

Symes has taken his high-level players to Dubai, Australia and Thailand. But in February and early March, he and his students made their homes at Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas. They played and practiced six days per week at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course and a new practice facility on the fairways of the closed Falls Golf Club.

Symes said the facilities were excellent and a return in 2020 could happen.

One of Symes’ proteges is Na Yeon Choi, the 2012 U. S. Women’s Open champion. Choi lives in Las Vegas and attended several days of the Lake Las Vegas sessions. Up and coming players Yena Chung, Hyun Ju Yoo and Yun Seok Kang were part of the Las Vegas group.

Also working with the golfers at certain times were Craig Barlow and Jeff Gallagher, former PGA Tour players who teach out of Reflection Bay. Barlow made more than 170 cuts on the PGA Tour and Gallagher won two times on the Web.com Tour.

Besides giving lessons at the new facility, Barlow and Gallagher also worked with students in a new indoor bay in the Reflection Bay clubhouse, which features Trackman technology and a Scotty Cameron putting area.

Nature course

Wildhorse in Henderson has retained its designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary,” an Audubon International program.

To reach certification, course management must demonstrate that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas, which include environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation and water quality management. Wildhorse is one of 900 courses worldwide to earn the status.

“Wildhorse has shown a strong commitment to its environmental program and they are to be commended for their efforts to provide a sanctuary for wildlife on the golf course property,” said Christine Kane, CEO of Audubon International.

Super honor

Desert Rose course superintendent Scott Sutton was honored by Clark County with the Tomiyasu Award, which is given annually in honor of Bill Tomiyasu, a lifelong Southern Nevada farmer and horticulturist. Tomiyasu is credited with popularizing many of the trees and plants found in Las Vegas. Sutton also was the 2017 superintendent of the year, as voted by the Southern Nevada Golf Course Superintendent’s Association.

Weekly deal

At Desert Willow executive course, weekday twilight rates are $23 after 2 p.m.

Stars on, off course

The Budweiser Clydesdales appeared at Topgolf Las Vegas on Thursday to kick off the facility’s NCAA college basketball watch parties that continue throughout the tournament.

The golf notebook appears Wednesdays. 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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