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Renovated Rio Secco course more forgiving to casual golfer

Original Rio Secco golf course architect Rees Jones and Butch Harmon, who operates his school at the Henderson facility, were present Tuesday for the reopening after a $2 million renovation.

Jones oversaw the project, and Harmon provided input. The end result is a kinder and friendlier Rio Secco.

“I think we’ve taken Rio Secco back to the future,” Jones said. “When it opened 20 years ago, we were designing larger bunkers than we do now. Now we’re building more strategically placed bunkers, more closely mowed chipping areas and more pockets of rough. There will now be more shot options available to players.

“On the holes that needed it, which were six of them, we added forward tees. That will allow for juniors, ladies and seniors to slide up to a different tee, which will make the golf course a lot more flexible. We are also doing that at other well-known courses around the country.”

Harmon, who teaches the likes of Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler, applauded the changes and said he thinks the industry needs to do more for the casual golfer.

“These courses should be designed for the everyday player, not the tour pros,” Harmon said. “Making it easier and designed so golfers can play more quickly is exactly what golf needs.”

Other improvements include an expansive practice area with a 27,000-square foot grass tee, new putting green, 18 new greens on the course and a new putting green at Harmon’s school. Rio Secco reopens to the public Friday.

VICI Golf took ownership Friday of Rio Secco and Cascata, another Jones design in Boulder City. VICI Golf is a subsidiary of VICI Properties, an entity that was spun off from Caesars Entertainment Corp. during bankruptcy proceedings.

Southern Highlands pro wins

Southern Highlands director of golf Jim Delaney won the Southern Nevada PGA Chapter Championship at Boulder Creek. He shot 3-under 141 to beat Anthem’s Travis Long and Siena’s Kim Dolan by two strokes. TPC Las Vegas pro Andrew Elliott won the assistant professional championship with a 1-over 144.

Topgolf Tour Championship

The Topgolf Tour Championship will be played Sunday at Topgolf Las Vegas. The top 20, two-player teams from regional tournaments will vie for a $50,000 first-place prize. Peter Campbell and Jamie Puterbaugh of San Diego won the Las Vegas qualifier.

Hall of Fame event

The Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame Classic Pro-Am at Las Vegas National and the Night of Induction at TPC Summerlin are scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27.

The Class of 2017 is Tom Hartley, a local golf benefactor and previous chairperson of Las Vegas’ PGA Tour event; Kerri Clark, a local LPGA teaching professional and former LPGA Tour player; the Southern Nevada Golf Association; and the late Bill Farkas, who was the head professional at Las Vegas Country Club for three decades.

Information is available at LasVegasGolfHOF.com.

Deal of the week

Las Vegas Golf Center offers a $25 happy-hour deal, which includes nine holes with cart, range balls and two drinks Friday through Sunday during opening festivities. There also are club demos all weekend and a free golf clinic Saturday night. The facility features a lighted nine-hole course, automated Power Tees and new LED range lighting.

Stars on, off course

U.S. Presidents Cup team member Rickie Fowler joined Las Vegas businessman Stephen Cloobeck in donating to the Las Vegas Victims Fund in remembrance of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting. Fowler is reportedly a lot owner at the new Summit in Summerlin. The new Discovery Land private community features a Tom Fazio course and opened to members Saturday.

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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