Nevada tourism officials hatch golf promotion stunt
RENO – It won’t be your typical round of golf – about 11 hours to play 18 holes.
But Carson City and Carson Valley tourism officials are hoping it will be a memorable one for two dozen golf writers who plan to sample the two best holes of nine different courses along the Sierra Nevada’s eastern front.
”They’ll play the two signature holes and end up playing a round of 18,” said Justin Yax, one of the organizers at Weidinger Public Relations.
”We’ll have mini-shuttle buses to load up their clubs and go from course to course,” he said.
It’s the latest attempt in a growing effort to promote northern Nevada as a year-round golfing destination, with everything from high desert layouts to mountain courses with towering pines.
The latest stunt is the brainchild of the Carson City Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors’ Authority – the ”Divine 9 Golf Media Tour.”
Writers from Golf Digest, Golfweek, the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Oakland Tribune and San Jose Mercury News are among those scheduled to play the ”Two-by-Two” tournament Sept. 26.
Reno business leaders have been promoting the region’s varied golfing opportunities in recent years – 45 golf courses within 90 minutes of Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
The efforts seem to be paying off.
Two years ago, they landed the newest stop on the PGA Tour – the Reno-Tahoe Open, which Scott Verplank won last month at Montreux Golf and Country Club.
And within the September edition of Golf Digest ranked Reno-Lake Tahoe No. 42 among the world’s 50 Greatest Golf Destinations.
”The Biggest Little City in the World isn’t as glitzy as its sibling, Las Vegas, but the Reno area has the sublime Lake Tahoe and plenty of great new golf courses,” the magazine said.
Monterey, Calif., and famed Pebble Beach head the Golf Digest list, followed by St. Andrews, Scotland, and Pinehurst-Southern Pines, N.C.
Las Vegas is 36th.
”Golf is a very popular attraction in Nevada’s diversifying tourism economy,” said Tom Tait, executive director of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.
Don ”Snoshu” Thompson of Reno helped kick off the new emphasis on golf to complement Reno’s casino resorts two summers ago when he teed off at 40 different golf courses in one day, racing from course to course from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Last spring, he completed runs down 13 area ski slopes and hit tee shots at 27 links within two hours or Reno and Lake Tahoe in one day.
The visiting writers will begin the day at Genoa Lakes, where homegrown product Tim Davis, 35, worked his way up the ladder to become he head golf pro.
”I grew up in this valley. I’ve seen it go from one golf course to four just here in Douglas County,” said Davis of Gardnerville.
”The whole philosophy right now in the entire Reno-Tahoe area as far as golf courses go is we need to bring people here and share a piece of the pie,” he said.
”It’s much easier to pull marketing dollars together and spend them on an area than it is to spend it on your own golf course.”
Participants will be met by golf carts and rushed to the various holes. The public relations firm has offered to purchase free drink coupons for any regular-paying customers who are disrupted by the traveling foursomes playing through.
Organizers staked out the ”Divine 9” courses on a map with tacks to create the most efficient tour, Yax said. It will start with the Par-3, 232-yard No. 14 at Genoa Lakes at 7:20 a.m. and wrap up at Carson Valley at 6:30 p.m.
In between, they’ll play at Sierra Nevada, Empire Ranch, Dayton Valley, Eagle Valley East and Eagle Valley West, Silver Oak and Sunridge.
The longest trip between holes will be from the 8th green to the 9th tee – a 20 to 25-minute bus ride from Empire Ranch to Dayton Valley.
”We’re going to have to have lunch on the bus as we go,” Yax said.
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