So I went to Las Vegas last weekend. First time in 4 years. At age 21, I gambled believing I would win big. At 28, I gambled hoping I'd win big. And now at age 32, I gambled knowing I'd lose big so I bet small.
At my most pathetic I was wedged between two old women at the penny slots who were explaining to me the subtleties of a Star Wars slot machine. When women with perms are telling you about Star Wars, it's time to move on.
So I did. In just 48 hours, my two friends and I managed to play 72 holes at 3 different locations, using coupons, online deals and slight of hand to pull off one of the cheapest golf trips in history.
When it was all over, I walked away with two enduring memories, one golf-related and one purely comedic.
The golf highlight came on the Wolf Course of the Paiute Golf Resort, a Pete Dye design twenty minutes NW of Vegas. I haven't had the chance to play much golf this summer, but it all came together on Saturday morning when I managed a sweet little 77 in the wind. As you can see from the picture (taken from Paiute's Sun Course), this place is about as close as you're going to get to playing golf on the edge of the world. If you're someone like me whose hands get a little sweaty on holes lined with condos where children splash blissfully unaware in swimming pools, head to Paiute.
The Wolf Course was also the location of the non-golf highlight. The 15th hole there is an island green par-3 and my buddy Matt had just one-bounced his approach into the water. We got all the way to the green when we remembered that legally he needed to go back to the drop area and play from there rather than dropping where it bounced into the water. This meant Matt had to get back in the cart and drive to the tee where the threesome behind us was waiting impatiently.
While Matt took out his rangefinder to get the yardage, the guys behind us started to moan about the wait. This is when I usually put my head down and pretend to be invisible. But my other friend James, a stocky former pitcher who's never afraid of a confrontation, walks toward the front of the green, looks them in the eyes, and yells back, "Oh shut up!" A back and forth ensued across the manmade lake, during which I realized that because I was standing on an island green, if these guys came after us, I'd have nowhere to run. After all, that is my normal M.O. in the face of conflict.
Things remained tense until James assured the largest member of the group that no matter how slowly we played, he'd still get his lunch. They backed down. Nevertheless, I picked up my pace the rest of the way in and we never saw them again.