Day 1....Sunday Mark and I hit the road at noon, per plan. We are both stoked to be heading to our favorite city for our first full-on golf vacation. In the driveway Mark’s wife makes that comment that “I guess this is going to be an annual event like the October Vegas trip”.....we both just kind of avert our eyes and change the subject. As soon as we round the corner it’s high-fiving time because both our wives have already figured out that we are now going to do this every year. Yeah!! The Trooper is loaded as if we are going on safari. A case of Gatorade, a case of water bottles, a case of power bars, two ice chests full of beer (one for the room, and one to take to the course), both of our golf bags, two suitcases, various golf stuff, a bag of turkey jerky for the road, and we are Good to Go! It takes approximately 5 minutes before the smack starts to fly....”I am So gonna kick your ass this week!”....”I am gonna spank you like I was your Daddy”...etc. This quickly degenerates into “pull the car over....you and me....right now...it’s Go time!!” hahahaha Must be a guy thing, because we found it hysterical and stayed on that theme all week. Pull into the Golden Nugget a little after 5:00pm....right on schedule. Check-in was kind of odd... no line... just open windows where people would line up...kind of like trying to pick the fast looking line at the grocery store. I definitely prefer the “next in line” type of check in. I make sure to request one of the newly renovated rooms (thanks to the conversations I saw here prior to leaving), and we get one. I make sure to get hooked up with Mikey’s hetero special and confirm that our room has two queen beds, right? The clerk informs me that they are Double beds, not queens, but there are two of them. A double bed? What adult can sleep comfortably in a double bed?! Whatever, I’m here to golf, not bitch. The pool at the Nugget is in the center of the hotel, and there are glass walls in the hallways so you can ogle...errrr... check out the pool. Nice touch. A bit dicey from the “walking without slamming into people” angle, but I like it anyway. We get to our room and quickly unload our suitcases. The room is fairly nice, but descriptions of the Nugget being “a Strip hotel in the heart of downtown” are a stretch. The rooms simply are not big enough to compare with the new Strip hotel rooms. The bathroom is the size of a normal Holiday Inn bathroom....compared to some of the huge bathrooms with big tubs and walk in showers you get uptown. Just an observation. They are definitely nicer than the LVC and MSS rooms I’ve stayed in, and the casino is Definitely nicer. We get settled in, have a beer, and head over to the Golden Gate for shrimp cocktails and a sandwich....perfect way to kick off our stay. So.... off to Angel Park to pay for our discount card and take care of any paperwork. We get there around 7:30....still running on schedule. Take care of business, and get ready to play the lighted par 3 course. We go around once and enjoy it. As we finish the last hole we notice that the clubhouse is dark....hmmmm...the first tee is right there.....we go for it. We are on the second hole when the girl who checked us in at the clubhouse drives up in a cart....Busted? Nope. She asks us to take the pins out and lay them on the cart path when we are done, as we are the last group allowed out. She had to know we went around.....I think she was just being cool about it in exchange for us making her job of closing up a little easier. Excellent. We finish up, have a couple of beers (in the 100 degree night air), call the families, and head back to the Nugget. We are in our beds by 11:30 (no small feat in Vegas!) with our alarm clock set and a wake up call ready for 4:30am.... that’s right 4:30...the horror. Day 2.....Monday 4:30am is the middle of the damn night, regardless of when you go to bed. We get dressed and head down to the restaurant in the Nugget which is conveniently open 24 hours. Nice. Get fuelled, and we’re off to the valet. The sky is getting light as we head out to the TPC (tournament players club) at The Canyons. The TPC courses are managed by the PGA, and they do a great job. After three or four holes we recognize that this is one of the best courses we have ever played, possibly the best. I know a lot of you are non-golfers, so I won’t bore you with descriptions of the holes. Our plan was to play the TPC twice, as I had heard that the replay rate was only $30....we decided to choose the TPC as our first day course, as we figured it would be our best chance of having enough energy to play 36 holes in the desert heat. We decide to up our usual bet, and play for the lunch tab. We both play pretty well, but I secure the victory around the 15th hole. Lunch on my buddy...as it should be. We played from the white tees in the morning, and decide to test ourselves and play the blue tees in the afternoon. By now, it is HOT. We don’t care. Apparently everyone else does, as it seems we have the entire course to ourselves in the afternoon....very cool. Playing from the blues is a whole different affair, bringing into play a lot of canyon carries to the fairway....we love it. My game manages to stay together, and I get the afternoon victory as well. We had decided earlier that the afternoon round would be played for a lap dance. (it’s Vegas, afterall) Highlight of the round: on the hole after I scoop up a bunch of skins for the win, my buddy crushes a 7 iron a good 50 yards over the green, into the housing development....I’m already laughing when we hear, “CLANG!!!”....wrought iron fence...now I’m in hysterics...my buddy says “wait, look at the green!”....I look up in time to see his ball arcing gracefully onto the middle of the green!! What the?! By now I am laying in the fairway with tears streaming down my face....it’s just too much. To make matters worse, he knocks down the impossible 60ft par putt. WHAT?? It’s a good thing I had closed him out on the previous hole...losing to that would have been too much to take. The seemingly ongoing application of SPF 50 sunscreen, and the consumption of an amazing amount of water and Gatorade (ok, and a few beers) has left me in pretty good shape considering I just spent 10 hours in the 110 degree Mojave sunlight. We grab a cold Sierra Nevada and head to the locker room. We’re beat, but we feel like Golf Gods. The TPC has a great locker room with big showers....I could get used to this. Back to the Nugget to have a beer or two and call home, and then it’s off to dinner at the restaurant downstairs in the back of Binion’s....can’t recall the name of it. We get big prime ribs for like $7. Showered and fed, it’s off to Cheetah’s. Uh...I don’t think we need to go into detail here, except that I spent 5 minutes convincing Mark not to take his wallet (and hence his ATM card) with him. We have a great time, and get home at 11:30....in bed by 12:00....pretty close to the plan...again, we are disciplined. Day 3....Tuesday 4:30am is freakishly early to be getting up. We both figure out quickly that we need to cut back on the beers at night. We don’t feel so good. Mark opens his wallet and is amazed at how much money he has left, considering the fun we had a Cheetahs.....I bring him back to my insistence on leaving the wallets in the room....Now who’s the Man? We need coffee and breakfast.....now. Down to the Nugget restaurant again....the food is good by the way, and pretty reasonable. We see the sky getting light from the restaurant (through the glass hallway wall ringing the pool), and know it’s time to go...we’re feeling better. This morning it’s the Wolf Links at Piaute. Let’s just say that this is the most beautiful course we have ever seen....it is truly spectacular....the fairways are like velvet, and the greens are big and Fast. Lots of huge bunkers, and oh yeah, the desert. Mark finally fulfills his promise, and kicks my ass. I’m closed out by the 12th hole. Ouch. I don’t care (that much)....the course is amazing, the Vistas are incredible....you can see for hundreds of miles, and the resort is at the base of the mountains, which are spectacular. It’s Hot. Again, we don’t care. We are drinking at least one bottle of water per hole, and never have to go to the bathroom... nuff said. We find out that we can play a second round on any of the three courses at Paiute for $35. We are there. After I spring for lunch, we head out to the Sun Mountain course, which was designed by Pete Dye, possibly the most famous golf course architect. Pete is known for visually intimidating designs which incorporate extreme risk/reward situations. Sun Mountain is all of that. A truly excellent course....top 3 we have ever played. Again we have the course to ourselves (seemingly), and for the second time that day, Mark beats me. It comes down to the 17th hole, which is just how we like it. Lap dance on me. We love Piaute resort, and vow to return.....we determine that the trifecta can be had (playing all three courses in one day)...but not today. We grab iced teas at the bar and chat with the bartender....we’ve played 5 rounds of golf in two and a half days....he is duly impressed. We ask about strip clubs, and he highly recommends Crazy Horse Too. Sold. Back to the room for long showers and a couple of beers....I take an ice cold corona into the warm shower...I’m in heaven. It takes a while to get all the layers of sunscreen off. Another day with no sunburn....outstanding. Grab a cab to Crazy Horse......uh....hated it. Silicone Hell. Definitely not my style. I’ll spare the details except this one.....nah, never mind...let’s just stick with hated it. Twenty minutes later we are back in a cab headed for Cheetah’s. Ahhhhh.... much better. We don’t get back to the room until 12:30, in bed by 1:00.....wakeup call in three and a half hours.....uh-oh. Day 4.....Wednesday No normal person should get up at 4:30am, especially not three days in a row. We went easier on the beers last night, so it’s not as bad as it could have been. We pack our bags and go eat breakfast. By now we know the drill. Grab our stuff, check out of the hotel, and hit the Road to Rio Secco golf course. Rio Secco is where the Butch Harmon school of golf is. Butch Harmon is Tiger Woods’ coach....it’s where they work. Again up against the mountains, but this time with a view down to the city...very cool. Rio Secco is hands down the most beautiful golf course I have ever seen.....fairways that are lined by red rock canyon walls...huge changes in elevation, and the fairways are nothing less than spectacular. The greens are big and undulating, and Fast as Hell! This course is a true pleasure to play. I turn my game up a notch and give Mark the beating he deserves. In the clubhouse we open the menu and immediately know it’s a done deal. We order “The Harmon”. Two big beef patties stuffed with jalepenos and chedder cheese. Delicious. “You can give the check to my associate”. We want to play again, but the last tee time is 12:00....they are closing the course for maintenance after that. Damn. Plan B. We head out to Primm where we are spending our last night....there are two courses there, and we have the first tee time on the “Lakes Course” the next day. We drive to the course and get on the Desert Course....cool, we’re going to play them both after all. Once again, course to ourselves. The starter is appropriately impressed with our tale of golfing heroism. Love the Desert Course. Very nice. Since we tee off later than we have been, we are treated to an astonishingly beautiful sunset across the desert as we play the last few holes. We finish just as it’s getting dark. Dinner is on Mark. Excellent. Back to the Primm Valley Resort (didn’t it used to be called the Primadonna?). Get checked in. Queen beds this time. Cool. As we are opening the door to our room, to yap dogs start in barking across the hall..... uh.... What? I don’t think so. I need a cold beer and a warm shower to consider this matter....luckily, both are at hand. Take a shower and have a beer....I feel Much better, but I am tired as Hell. The trip has finally caught up with us. Call the family while Mark is in the shower....hold the phone out so my wife can hear the dogs barking. After that I call security and tell them to get on it. There are a lot of unhappy people in the hallway when we leave. We tell security to just give us the key, and we’ll take care of it...everybody wins. Well, unless you are a dog. They won’t go for it. Damn. Go downstairs to the restaurant...we are hungry, tired, and a bit cranky. I’m sorry sir, the restaurant closes at 10:00. Well, what time is it now? 9:55. Good, so we’re just in time. No sir, the kitchen staff goes home at 10:00. Damn. Ok, what other restaurants are there? There is a coffee shop. Fine. Except that it’s Wednesday night, and the 24 hour coffee shop closes at 10:00 for kitchen cleaning. Dude. Now I AM cranky. Off to see a manager. I want my room comped....if we hadn’t had to deal with the stupid dog thing, we would have made it to the restaurant on time. No can do. Dude. How about dinner? All he can offer is two five dollar off passes to the coffee shop across the way at Buffalo Bills. Fine. Where do we catch the monorail? Monorail closes at 10:00 sir. Son of a........ So what do you suggest? There’s a shuttle bus that runs every 20 minutes. Fine. We get there, we eat, I give Mark much pain about getting his betting losses subsidized by the hotel. We don’t get to bed until 11:30. Damn, we had hope to be in bed by 10:00...we are Beat. Day 4.... Thursday Whoever is calling me at 4:30am is going to die. Screw it, I don’t have the energy...they live. Get dressed, pack, and head down for breakfast. Coffee shop doesn’t open until 6:00. What?! Don’t these people know they’re in Vegas?! Forget it, we’ll find something else. Out to the valet. While we’re waiting, two older women come out. The one starts complaining that it’s too hot. She asks me if I think it will get any hotter.....considering that the sun is not up yet, I’m gonna have to go with Yes. Her friend asks me if I think it will cool down later....I’m looking at my buddy and trying not to lose it. Instead I go with, “it’ll probably get a little warmer later on.....don’t you have air conditioning in your car?” “Well yes, but I don’t like to use it unless it’s really hot”...... I don’t even want to know.....it’s time to go. Get the Trooper loaded and head out....hey, there's a McDonalds across the parking lot...it doesn’t sound good, but I need food to get me through the day. We pull up, and it’s empty....opens at 6:00... #@*!! Fine. Go to the big gas station / mini mart across the way....nothing looks edible....buy 4 advil with a $100 bill. Nice. We drive out to the course. We were the last ones out last night, and the first ones in this morning....the starter is even more impressed than he was yesterday. We are Golf Gods. We need food....what time does the grill open? 6:00. I’m looking for something to break. Screw it. Power bars for breakfast on the driving range. The advil are kicking in, and my feet do not hurt nearly as much as they did an hour ago...I can almost walk without limping. I am so kicking Mark’s ass today. It’s day four and our swings are Grooved. It’s a great course, and we play with two other guys on vacation (separately), and have a great time. Our playing partners are quite amused with the ungodly amount of trash being talked. We play our best rounds of the trip...we duel to the 18th hole, where I tank and get to pay for lunch. Don’t care, had a great day. We take off immediately.....it’s 11:30 and I need to be home no later than 5:30 to pick up the kids. We hit Del Taco in Barstow for lunch (hey, he got the coupons for dinner the night before!). We run into some traffic and road construction which slows our time. We have fun reliving our great shots and the great courses, and congratulating ourselves for being the Ironmen of golf. I get into town right on time to pick up the kids....get home, quick dinner, and it’s off to swim lessons. My daughter is 9, and she has swim team, and my 2 year old son and I have baby swim class together at the same time in a different part of the pool. Man did that water feel good, and it was cool coming right home to my favorite family activity. Back home and pretty much right to bed....well, not Right to bed...I mean, I had been away from my wife for four nights..... Did NOT want to get up and go to work Friday morning, but hey, that’s the kind of dedicated employee I am. Five days in Vegas and didn’t gamble a single dime. Can’t wait to do it again next year.