September 12, 2011 - 11:16 pm
There are a couple of pleasures that I enjoy in my life. Family and friends are, of course, No. 1 .
But there’s a certain mystique in old towns and history, fast cars and golf. Fast cars beckon to my youth. Golf is, thankfully, covered within these columns. Old towns and their stories intrigue me. Monterey Bay and Cambria in California and Jerome in the foothills of Arizona are a few of my favorites.
There’s little doubt that some of golf’s finest courses are here in Las Vegas.
So, with an excess of vacation time, I decided to travel to some of Nevada’s significant towns and witness what golf is in these notably historic small towns.
Five golf courses in five days. Five historic towns in five days. Pahrump, Hawthorne, Fallon, Ely and Pioche. Pahrump, a city of 36,000, to Pioche with slightly more than 1,000 residents.
First stop Monday was Pahrump. There’s very little of historic footnotes in this city. Inhabited by the Shoshone tribe and later when American settlers arrived in the area in the late 18th century, Pahrump didn’t even get phone service or paved roads until the 1960 s. Historic significance, -0-. Amend that, -1-, due to the legal brothels.
Pahrump’s Mountain Falls Golf Course opened in 2002. It’s a par-72, 7,186-yard championship course. It’s rated at 70.0 with a slope of 116 (an a verage slope is 113). The course is in great shape. However, the front nine is eerily wide open. The economy has delayed plans for the housing development, and the nine sits out there all by itself, surrounded by desert terrain. The back nine is similar to Las Vegas courses surrounded by homes. Rate to play: $25/nine holes with cart. Rating, -6-.
Tuesday was Hawthorne, population 3,269, 270 miles up the 93 from Pahrump.
The city was founded in 1880 by H.M. Yerington as a place to put a distribution point for his Carson and Colorado Railroad Company. In 1883, it became the county seat for Esmeralda County. The U.S. Army Ammunition Depot was constructed in 1930, and the underground bunkers are still visible today. It s downtown still reflects the PO”50 s and ’60 s. Historic value, -9-.
Volunteers from the ammunition depot built the golf course located on the base in the 1940 s.
Now called Walker Lake Golf Club at the depot, it’s a par-68, nine-hole course, and when played twice from different tee locations, it covers 5,588 yards.
Most of the holes are lined with tall cedars and cottonwood trees, making for an accurate tee shot. There are some traps, no cart paths, but the greens are nicely kept. The course rating is 65.4, and the slope is 109.
There’s a comfortable lounge that reminds one of the 1960 s. Rate to play: $20 with cart. Rating, -5-.
Wednesday was Fallon, population 8,606. Paiutes were the original inhabitants of the area. The discovery of gold in California in 1849 and silver in 1858 led President Lincoln to proclaim Nevada a state in 1864. The Pony Express rode here. In 1896, the Fallon Ranch established a post office. In 1903, Fallon was the county seat of Churchill County. Heck, telephone and telegraph services were installed in 1907. The Old Courthouse (1903), the Old High School and the Old Jail House still stand. Historic significance, -9-.
The Fallon Golf course is also a nine-hole layout. It’s a par-36 and measures at 6,254 yards when played twice from the different tee locations. Tall cottonwood and willow trees line some fairways. Other holes are wide open and invite the big hitters to show off.
The seventh hole is a picturesque 142-yard par-3 over the Carson River to a tight green lined by those tall tress. A bar and clubhouse offer views of the course. Rate to play: $20 with cart. Rating, -7-.
Next month: the world’s loneliest highway and the world’s loneliest golf course.
John Asay is a longtime golfer and local freelance writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.