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Welch collection features Elvis, Nicklaus, Palmer, Hope, more

Last week, Jeff Reid, Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort general manager, shared a vast photograph collection he and his wife, Miki, had preserved since Don Welch (Reid’s father-in-law and a 2019 Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame inductee) passed away in 2010.

The historic treasure trove revealed Las Vegas golf’s glory days and included an official anniversary book celebrating the first quarter century of the famed Desert Inn Country Club, which was the site of the PGA Tour Tournament of Champions from 1953-66 and other PGA Tour and LPGA Tour tournaments.

The Desert Inn was a PGA Tour playground in those days and the collection included photos of legendary golfers Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Laura Baugh and Cary Middlecoff, Vegas titans Moe Dalitz and Wilbur Clark, and celebrities Bob Hope, Walter Winchell, Bing Crosby, Mamie Van Doren, Elvis Presley and dozens more.

Welch, a native of Whitefish, Montana, was hired as a Desert Inn teaching professional in 1961 following a stint in the Army. He became the head professional in 1964 and then director of golf in 1967. In 1976, he assumed the same role at the legendary Dunes course, where he remained until 1990.

Welch’s career was defined by helping create the Southern Nevada PGA of America chapter and also his quiet and wise leadership. A few quality hires by Welch over the years included Joe Kelly and Jerry Roberts (both preceded Welch into the hall of fame), and also Eddie Kahn, who later created the international company La Mode golf apparel.

La Mode morphed into Golf Apparel Brands and celebrated 40 years in 2018. Under Kahn’s leadership, the company has been the official apparel provider for seven U.S. Open tournaments, hundreds of PGA Tour Events and in 1992 launched Fairway Blues with Phil Mickelson.

“I remember the first week I was in business, Don called to inform me that another company had dropped the ball on delivering an order of 1,000 cashmere sweaters for the Hughes Invitational and asked if I could come up with that many sweaters very quickly,” Kahn said. “I wouldn’t be telling the story if I couldn’t deliver, and that order was a springboard to my new business.

“I think of Don every day and was very blessed to have had the close friendship with him and his family. Don is most deserving and long overdue of being inducted into the Las Vegas Hall of Fame. I am so lucky to have had the mentorship, support and friendship of this terrific man for 40 years.”

Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame weekend is Sept. 27-28 at Spanish Trail and TPC Summerlin. Ticket information is at LasVegasGolfHOF.com.

Nevada Open taking entries

Registration is open at CasaBlancaResort.com for the $150,000 Nevada Open Nov. 5-7 at Palms and CasaBlanca golf courses in Mesquite.

Stars on, off course

Nicole-Dutt Roberts has been named youth instructor and joins professional tour players Jeff Gallagher and Craig Barlow as part of the High Performance Golf Institute staff at Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas.

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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