What is now the historic Las Vegas National Golf Club, which is located in the heart of Las Vegas and minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, opened in 1961 as the Stardust Country Club. From 1961-66 the course hosted the LPGA Championship, a major. That is just one piece of the course’s amazing history. —By Brian Hurlburt, Las Vegas Golf Insider Founder.
The late Irwin Molasky, the original developer of the course and the surrounding Paradise Palms community, was a key person in bringing the prestigious tournament to Las Vegas, which also hosted the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions at the time.
“Bringing the LPGA Championship—a major—to Las Vegas was a coup, especially in those days,” remembered Molasky during a 2011 interview for the book, City of Champions: the History of Professional Golf in Las Vegas. “We were the sponsor of that tournament. It was another coup to have a lady like Mickey Wright win that first tournament. She was the best player and had been around for many years. The ladies loved the Stardust golf course. I played with her in a Pro-Am, and she just told me how fantastic the event and course was. She was glad to be here. All the players loved Las Vegas. Mickey was fabulous. She was a nice girl. They were all nice, but they were dedicated to their sport, and some were more fun than others. They would dance at parties and they were funny.”
There is a certain vibe when you play Las Vegas National and you can almost feel the likes of Wright, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and the other legends who have walked the fairways and greens of the course.
The course features hundreds of trees and an extremely challenging set of five par 3 holes, and is still thriving some six decades after the best LPGA Tour players teed it up there.
Other interesting Las Vegas National tidbits
- The movie, Casino, was filmed at the course and the official Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame exhibit is located in the clubhouse.
- The LPGA Championship continues to be played on the LPGA Tour, but it will always have roots to the city that glitters, Las Vegas.
- The Tournament of Champions was played at the course in 1967 and 1968 and Frank Beard and Don January earning titles
- The course was designed by Bert Stamps and also hosted the long-running Sahara Invitational.
- For a couple years, it hosted the Las Vegas Invitational, including in 1996 when Tiger Woods won the first of his 82 PGA Tour victories. He shot 70 during the one round he played at was then called the Las Vegas Hilton Country Club.
PHOTO: Courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau. Mary Mills, 25, Ocean Springs, Mississippi is crowned by defending champ Mickey Wright after winning $16,500 tourney with a new record at the Stardust golf club in Las Vegas. Miss Wright placed second. LPGA director Leonard Wirts and pro Bo Wininger look on.
LPGA Championship at Stardust Country Club Champions
1961 Mickey Wright
1962 Judy Kimball
1963 Mickey Wright
1964 Mary Mills
1965 Sandra Haynie
1966 Gloria Ehret
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