For many years, I have been sharing a big idea whenever asked about ways to help improve attendance and excitement of Las Vegas’ annual PGA Tour event, the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Simple, I say, just transform “the Hill” fan experience located above holes 16-18 into a sports book and welcome and encourage wagering on everything from football, to “in-round wagering” on which player hits the green on the par 3, 17th hole or makes birdie on the challenging par 4, 18th, to any other unique tournament prop bets Vegas’ sports book experts could think up.
But given the PGA Tour’s longtime “no way” stance on gambling and sports betting, creating the “William Hill” Hill, named for the large sports betting company, had as much chance happening as an NHL expansion team winning the Stanley Cup.
Well, the Vegas Golden Knights are on the verge of the unthinkable and the recent ruling by the Supreme Court empowering individual state legislatures to decide whether to legalize sports wagering has Shriners Open and PGA Tour executives re-evaluating the issue.
“We have to take a wait and see approach and get direction from the PGA Tour, but we are very happy about the new ruling and intrigued by the opportunities it could present to our event,” said Shriners Open tournament director Patrick Lindsey, whose event is scheduled for Nov. 1-4 at TPC Summerlin. “We have done a good job of increasing attendance in the last few years and created a lot of great marketing partnerships and this could lead to more opportunities. We will be watching closely and who knows what the future could hold.”
Even prior to the ruling, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was supportive of the measure.
“We’ve decided it’s going to lead to more fan engagement opportunities and that’s an opportunity to grow your business, grow your fan base,” Monahan said on Golf Channel. “If it’s regulated at the state level, we think it’s better to be a participant than to be on the sidelines. It’s better to know and be active and learn from it and understand how your fans are responding to it.”
Ladies win titles
Regina Quintero was the overall champion of the Women’s Southern Nevada Golf Association Senior Amateur at Chimera. Other division champs were Sandy Barletta, Sharon Bunker, Susan Daum, Monica Fairbanks, Fay Geddes, Karen Herness and Carrie Langevin.
On Sunday, a sale from 8 a.m.-noon at Las Vegas National featuring used golf clubs, clothing and more benefits junior golf. Also, a deal for three rounds at three courses for $99 (including National) will be available Thursday at SNGA.org.
Juniors win at Reflection Bay
Harrison Kingsley from Murrietta, Calif., finished at 7-under 209 to win the boys division of the American Junior Golf Association Las Vegas Junior at Reflection Bay. Coronado High rising senior Ben Sawaia finished tied for third at 5-under 211.
Mika Jin from Fremont, California, won the girls division at 7-under 209. Clark High rising sophomore Riana Mission finished seventh at 4-over 220.
Stars on, off course
Teaching legend Butch Harmon played in the AJGA Junior-Am at Reflection Bay on Friday along with tour player and instructor Craig Barlow.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or @LVGolfInsider.