Desert Inn Golf Club closure is end of an era

July 02, 2002 7:08 AM
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The legendary Desert Inn Golf Course, which hosted every professional golf tour and four U.S. presidents in its 50 year history, officially closed last Saturday.

Fittingly, the final chapter in the classic golf club was the End of an Era Golf Classic, which benefited the Greater Las Vegas Inner City Games.

"This was a rare opportunity to truly be a part of history," said Elaine Wynn, co-chair of the Greater Las Vegas Inner City Games. "Many of the finest players who ever played golf have done so at the Desert Inn Golf Club."

Last Saturday’s tournament drew foursomes who paid $10,000 in the 18-hole scramble ($2,500 for individual spots). Each player was entered into a raffle for a chance to win a 2003 Hummer H2, which was awarded by celebrity host ­­Arnold Schwarzenegger, national chairman of the Inner City Games Foundation.

Players also received a round of golf at the Tom Fazio-designed course that will replace the Desert Inn course in 2004, as well as Desert Inn memorabilia. The field was limited to 25 foursomes.

Purchased in 2000 by Wynn Resorts, the Desert Inn Golf Club will begin its transformation into a new championship course designed by Tom Fazio later this summer. The course will be just one of the world-class amenities of Le Reve, the new casino resort scheduled to open in 2004.

The Desert Inn Golf Club opened in 1952 and a year later it became a regular stop for touring professionals. Beginning with the 1953 Tournament of Champions through the recent Las Vegas Invitational, such PGA Tour stars as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and Curtis Strange were crowned champion at the Desert Inn.

When the Senior PGA Tour made the Desert Inn its Las Vegas home, winners included Chi Chi Rodriguez, Lee Trevino and Al Geiberger.

Patty Sheehan, Nancy Lopez and Karrie Webb are a few of the LPGA’s best who picked up titles when the ladies’ tour stopped at the Desert Inn.

World leaders have also teed it up on the challenging layout through the years, including U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton.

The final tournament’s sponsor, the Greater Las Vegas Inner City Games, helps build confidence and self-esteem by providing year-round, after-school and summer programs for inner-city youth in sports, education, computer technology and cultural enrichment.

Since it began in 1987, the Greater Las Vegas Inner City Games has enriched the lives of more than 30,000 area youth. Visit {www.innercitygames.org} for more information.