Swinging time in Vegas left me rattled

T. Gamble

T. Gamble

For the first time in my sheltered life, I went to Las Vegas. Sodom and Gomorra look like a tent revival compared to Vegas. The average guy leaving Vegas needs three things: a stomach pump, a blood transfusion and an exorcism.

While there, also for the first time — and if God blesses me even a smidgen for the remainder of my life, the last time — I played a desert golf course named Cascata. I think the back nine normally sits on the right corner of the entryway to Hell.

In playing the course, the complimentary caddies are quick to explain it was carved out of the desert and cost hundreds of millions to build. I can only surmise they ran out of money and decided to save some by narrowing the fairways.

This desert course has lush green fairways. I know this because I saw them on my path through the rock strewn, craggy, mountainous desert that borders the fairways. This border area makes the moon look like Bush Gardens in comparison. I’m not exaggerating the terrain, as the caddy told us that in building the golf course they actually had to move some “cave dwellers” from their caves and relocate them.

He made this comment as if it were a fairly common occurrence in the area, kind of like me saying I picked up a stray dog and took it to the veterinarian’s office the other day. He didn’t tell me where they relocated the cave dwellers, but based on some of the advice I got from the caddy, it is possible they became caddies.

Botanists note there are 12,914 known cacti, sticker bushes and thorn brambles, of which 12,913 are located on the borders of Cascata. When a ball lands among this barren hell hole, one must trudge through the thickets, club in hand, to find the wayward ball. The caddy always kindly reminds one that this area is infested with rattlesnakes. In planning vacation trips, I must confess that areas “infested with rattlesnakes” are not normally high on my must-see list.

The golf club, I suppose, is brought to hit the snake, because there ain’t no way in hell you’ll hit the ball out of these rock pits. Next, the caddy will yell, “T., what club do you have? I’ve got it about 160 yards to the flag.”

I didn’t bother to tell him. If I’m lying four, on a par 4, behind a boulder, next to a giant sticker thicket, chances are I won’t be knocking down the pin anytime soon.

Nevertheless, I still poise over the ball, thorns raking my legs, all the while soothed by the hum of a rattlesnake’s singing rattles and the comfort of a 35 mph breeze, while trying to blast a ball over 12 tons of rubble.

After three attempts, it is now time to drop a ball on the fairway, lying nine, and to chunk the 7 iron into the ravine, as it is now completely destroyed by the aforementioned 12 tons of rubble.

Eventually, I landed upon the perfect greens, which the caddy described as “a little quick.” Saying these greens were a little quick is sort of like saying Keith Richards has used “a little drugs” during his lifetime.

I can state with certainty that Cascata holds the distinction of being the only golf course I have ever played in which I asked a caddy if it were OK to sit down on a rock and take a breather. I swung so many times, I could enter the upcoming annual lumber jack competition.

Oh, well, the course was beautiful and I’ll never reveal my score. As they say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.