LAS VEGAS, Nev. (February 1, 2018)–The word is getting out to golfers. And that word is: Excited. That looks to be the consensus from golfers when it comes to talking about the major renovations at Rio Secco Golf Club. “The changes have been, nearly unanimously, very well received,” says Mark Blais, director of sales and marketing. “Everyone’s very excited.” — By Bill Bowman, Las Vegas Golf Insider staff.
Rio Secco, designed by Rees Jones, opened to rave reviews in 1997. Since that time it’s undergone a few cosmetic alterations through the years including a re-routing of the course a few years ago.
But now, in its 20th year as a destination golf course, the original routing is back along and more than $2 million in major renovations were unveiled late in 2017. Those renovations were completed by the U.S. Open Doctor himself and the original course designer, Jones.
“The playing conditions, the new greens and the greenside bunkers, the course has been really improved,” Blais said. “People have really taken notice and we look at Rio Secco as one of the best golf experiences in the Valley.”
Jones ventured to the course on four different occasions to work on the upgrades and was personally involved. Even Butch Harmon, who operates his golf school at the course, consulted on the new changes. Some of the renovations included a course-wide change out of the sod on the greens. Several greens also received cosmetic re-contouring touch ups and greenside bunkers were re-done with new sand and the practice facilities we completed remade, expanding to 27,00o square feet and giving golfers a sweet place to their games prior to or after a round.
Jones has always said he has been impressed with the Rio Secco site and also is very pleased with the new changes.
“This is an amazing natural site for golf,” Jones says. “When I first saw it, I thought it was the best piece of land in Las Vegas. The golf course reflects the beauty that surrounds it which is why it continues to be regarded as one of the best layouts in the west. The course has matured substantially in 20 years. This renovation project gave us the opportunity to reclaim and enhance the features and shot options that made Rio Secco so special in the first place. We expanded the playability of the golf course, while increasing the nuances to challenge the best players in the game. Golfers will find Rio Secco to be an even more memorable experience that presents a different test with every round. It’s a great place to play on a daily basis.”
Along with the updates, some new tee boxes have also been added into the mix to make it more appealing, and playable, for higher handicap players and ladies.
The result? A golf club that’s got the golf world talking about. As well as enjoying the overall facility.
“Working with the new owners (Vici Properties) has been great,” Blais said. “They recognized the golf course needed some attention to the property, the course and the overall operation. A great experience is and has always been our top priority for guests and now we have a freshly renovated golf course to match that service standard.”
Greens: All putting surfaces were re-grassed with new Dominant X-treme bentgrass, and several of the green complexes were re-contoured to enhance playability and enjoyment.
Bunkers: All greenside bunkers underwent a major overhaul including new sand throughout. Select bunkers on more than 10 holes also were reconfigured and modernized.
Practice Facility: The practice range was lengthened, widened and original artificial turf on the practice tee was replaced with natural turf and expanded to 27,000 square feet. A new 4,500 square-foot putting green was built, and a practice bunker was added to the re-contoured chipping green.
Tees: Five new forward tees were installed on select holes dropping the yardage by approximately 340 yards to 5,419 yards total. This provides a more appropriate challenge for novice golfers as well as moderates difficult forced carries.
Other Minor Renovations: Other renovations include the sodding of approaches and green complexes to inhibit poa annua encroachment; cart path repair and replacement; as well as general maintenance to enhance the desert landscape such as trimming overgrown trees and bushes.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the way the renovation turned out,” Ken Wright, general manager of Rio Secco. “After 20 great years, we felt it was time to refresh the golf experience. Rees hit the mark by dramatically improving key design elements as well as addressing routine updates every golf course encounters after two decades of play.”