Gamble produces ultimate golf Guy-de

Apr 29, 2003 5:51 AM

Guy Torrey is the Mel Kiper Jr. of golf courses, only his information makes money.

"I give equal coverage to every course in the state and let the golfers decide," said Torrey, who at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds is hard to miss. "My philosophy is not to play favorites. I wanted to give golfers a view from someone who has actually played the courses."

Torrey is a self-made man, an entrepreneur who has parleyed a love for writing with success in gambling into a means to satisfy his passion to desire to play and report on every golf course in the world.

"Hopefully I provide a service to the true golfer with no spins," Torrey said during a stay last week at The Resort in Summerlin. "I am a one person show, a golf machine. When I played in New Mexico, I laid out my entire 3½-month itinerary a month before I departed by northern Nevada home."

Torrey has indeed made a good living off gambling, an enterprise that definitely fits in well with golf.

"Las Vegas is home to a lot of golf hustlers," he said. "I remember running into a couple in Mesquite that was playing each other on the course for sex. Gambling is intrinsic with golf. Lee Trevino once said that true pressure is playing a $20 nassau with $5 in your pocket."

Torrey recommends that betting pro golf matchups is the best way to make money in the Las Vegas books. That’s coming from a person who turned $500 into $15,000 betting on small college basketball."

"Most people don’t understand how to bet golf," he said. "The odds books give Tiger Woods are ridiculous. He’s the one they know and he gets the hype. Davis Love won the Heritage and was getting 8-1 at second choice. That’s incredible odds."

Torrey has plans to make "The Straight Ball Guide" a golfer’s bible for playing courses in all 50 states and every country in the world. It’s a grandiose project, but Torrey is on his own schedule and living the life we all wish could happen.

"The secret about happiness is doing what you love," he said. "The money will follow. I played all 61 courses in southern Nevada in 70 days. It could take me two weeks to a month to get on some of them. Others got me on right away. The main thing was to get it done, and the right way."

Torrey, an accomplished golfer, rates each course in terms of cost, layout, convenience, access to dining, nightlife and speed of play.

"Every golfer’s guide tends to focus on the most expensive and difficult courses," he said. "They are ones that could afford to be published. I wanted to play all the courses, well known and remote. Most people don’t know you that the best course for value in Nevada is Nellis Air Force Base for $40."

Torrey believes the most underrated part of the golf experience is pace of play, a factor most golf books fail to mention.

"Pace of play is ruining the game in America," he said. "In Europe, golfers play 18 holes in three hours. I played the Old Course at St. Andrews in 2:45 and the residents wondered why it took so long. Some Nevada courses can take six hours and the prices are way too high."

Torrey believes pace can be speeded up through common sense.

"Slow play is rooted in a set of tees you can’t handle," he said. "Vegas courses are cart path holes, yet players refuse to carry more than one club before hitting their next shot. You should always be ready to hit and not concern yourself with the other player’s golf ball. Golfers who play fast, play better."

Torrey has faced all the elements everywhere from the Yukon to Death Valley, yet believes the toughest obstacle is psychological.

"Fred Couples says that unless you are hitting 500 balls a day, any decent shot you hit is a miracle," he said."

Torrey’s next assignment over the next six months is playing all the golf courses in Oregon and Hawaii. Meanwhile his book has sold 2,000 copies in six months, including several in Korea.

"I have been blessed to have total recall of every hole I’ve played," he said. "I also like to eat and have fun after golf. All these qualities make this guide stand out from the rest. My gamble certainly has paid off."