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Recently reopened Reflection Bay a pleasure to play

I kind of remember where I was when I heard the news.

It was 2009. Maybe the third hole at the Arroyo. Buddy mentioned it to me. The Falls Golf Course out in Lake Las Vegas was closing. I was surprised because we just had our wedding reception in The Village at Lake Las Vegas, and all appeared well. Then more shocking news shortly thereafter: Reflection Bay Golf Club, 75 Montelago Blvd., was closing, too. Reflection Bay was the course my high school buddies and I had chosen to play during our annual reunion earlier in the year.

Golf at Lake Las Vegas, one of the nicest golf venues in the state, was now impossible to play.

Well, look what happened. Reflection Bay Golf Club reopened Oct. 14, and it’s deja vu all over again.

Greg Brockelman, head golf professional at Reflection Bay, invited us out to view the course. Greg is the expert when it comes to Reflection Bay. He was there when it opened in 1998 and became head golf pro in 2001. He was there to the bitter end in 2009, when it closed.

“Fantastic,” was Greg’s reply to a question about the condition of the course. “The new owners had a vision. They added amenities and upgraded the course as well as the clubhouse. Golfers and residents are thrilled to have the course back and not have a pasture in their backyard.”

In fall 2013, the course was pretty much dead. Brown grass and overgrowth dominated the layout. “Once bankruptcy was complete, the bank could sell the course to the new owners, The Paulsen Group,” Greg said. “The sale also included The Falls course and some land.”

So how do you bring a golf course back to life? Work started in April last year.

‘The first thing that happened was we turned the irrigation system back on,” Greg said. “We fixed that. We tried to save the grass. But only about 40 percent came back. The remaining was either hydro-seeded or re-sodded. Much more work was completed, including all the greens being reseeded with new bent grass and new sand for the sand traps.”

Greg gives all the credit to Al Greenhalgh, golf course superintendent, for bringing the course back. “He took a golf course which had completely gone to pasture and reseeded it from wall to wall,” Greg said. “All new bunker sand was brought in. Extensive tree trimming was needed to shape trees gone unkept for six years.” The results are amazing.

The next big step was to bring Jack Nicklaus back to the course he originally designed. “The new owners gave Jack free rein to make any changes to the course he needed,” Greg added. “Jack only made minor changes. He redid the seventh green, making it deeper so approach shots were easier to hold. He also removed 20 bunkers and added just one. He realized this is a resort facility, so he softened it up a bit by removing the bunkers.”

The result? “The SNGA (Southern Nevada Golf Association) is coming out in January to rate the course. We expect the rating and the slope to increase because the landscaping is more mature,” Greg said. “And it will be more playable.”

Maybe it was the weather; it was an insanely beautiful day. Maybe it was the regular motley crew that was my foursome. Maybe it was the new, used set of irons I was playing. Or maybe, just maybe, it was the new improved version of Reflection Bay that made it one of the best days of golf I have ever enjoyed.

Reflection Bay is in superb shape. What I had forgotten was the beauty and challenge of the layout. Each hole is a delight to play. Each hole qualifies for designation as a signature hole. Even the surrounding neighborhoods are attractive. Eight holes have water challenges; five holes are lakeside. Waterfalls are prevalent. Traps are many but playable — only one par-3 more than 200 yards. From the tips, it plays 7,261 yards.

Greg is really proud of the course. Check it out. Bring in or mention this column and be entered to win a free foursome to experience it for yourself.

I guarantee you will totally enjoy your round.

John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer. Contact him at jasay@reviewjournal.com.

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