If at all possible, when in Las Vegas, do try to play golf at Shadow Creek with Michael Jordan. (Courtesy of the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational) Comedic genius Bill Engvall has teed it up all around Las Vegas. (Courtesy of Horseman Golf) When not gigging with Collective Soul, singer Ed Roland heads for the golf course. (Courtesy photo) ESPN radio talk show host Colin Cowherd, a former Las Vegas resident, has been known to hit the links at Rio Secco G.C. (Courtesy photo) NASCAR driver Kurt Busch calls Las Vegas -- and Las Vegas' golf courses -- home. (Courtesy photo)

Celebrities haunt the best golf courses in Las Vegas: You'll never guess who's on the first tee



LAS VEGAS -- There's no doubt that celebrities love to hit the links when they stop in Las Vegas. Over the past 15 years, we've been able to tee it up with some high-profile names at some of the best golf courses Las Vegas has to offer. We've seen the slices. We've seen the shanks. We've seen the stars sign autographs. And we've seen these people out of their element on the golf course -- and having the time of their lives.

Here's a look behind the scenes at a few of those rounds -- and those personalities.

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

One of NASCAR's high-profile drivers, Busch can also drive a golf ball well. On a round at Bali Hai Golf Club, Busch talked NASCAR, being a hometown Las Vegas guy, and golf. One thing: Don't let him drive the golf cart, which doesn't have a seat belt or air bag. The only saving grace is there is a limit on the speed that golf carts can reach -- at least until Busch makes a pit stop and lets his crew chief work on it.

Comedian Bill Engvall

This comedic genius has teed it up all around Las Vegas with a couple of the highlight rounds coming at Rio Secco Golf Club, Spanish Trail Country Club and The Legacy Golf Club. Engvall is a golf fanatic and works as hard to improve his game as he does on his comedy act -- maybe harder because the comedy comes so naturally. A round of golf with Engvall is the equivalent of a four-hour standup routine. And nothing -- and no one -- is off limits. Even before he hits a shot, there's always the chance he'll step away and fire off a one-liner, or tell a joke he's been working on.

Collective Soul's Ed Roland

The lead singer for Collective Soul forgoes sleep for a round of golf. And what a round it was. At DragonRidge Country Club, Roland is bright-eyed as he steps to the first tee following a bus trip into Las Vegas for a show on the Strip. It was a round of golf that almost didn't happen. Bus troubles delayed the group's arrival in Vegas by a couple of hours. But the trooper that he is, his first thought was not missing his tee time. He's a consistent player and knows his limits. He's also got a swing that's as rhythmic as his music. Following the round, it was back to the hotel for a little nap before a show that night that brought the fans to their feet.

"Burn Notice" actor Jeffrey Donovan

The star of USA Network's "Burn Notice" takes his golf as seriously as his acting. How serious? Donovan says a wager is a must so we come up with a bet that, should I lose, won't bankrupt me. Donovan wins the wager on the 18th hole at Bear's Best Las Vegas, holing a birdie putt. That's saying something as this Jack Nicklaus course is one of the toughest layouts around. Donovan's game is more than up to the task. He thinks his way around the course, but between shots he was all smiles and talks about Vegas and his love of golf. Afterward, Donovan graciously uses the money to buy a couple of cold ones.

ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd

The ESPN radio talk show host, and former Las Vegas resident, took time out from a busy schedule to hit it at Rio Secco Golf Club. Before the round he also made time for a photo shoot for a magazine article. No request for posing was too much. It's all in a day's work, and Cowherd was more than cordial. When it was time for golf, he was all business. Cowherd may not be making his living on the PGA Tour any time soon, but he was all smiles working his way around the golf course and enjoying his time back in Vegas.

Butch Harmon

Now Harmon may not be a celebrity in some eyes, but try telling that to the pros he works with. Many may wonder: Does golf's top teacher actually have game? The answer is a definite yes. Doing a story about the ultimate weekend in Las Vegas, getting tips and playing nine holes with Harmon was my ultimate weekend. After a 90-minute lesson at his Butch Harmon School of Golf in Henderson (and he picked up the tab), we played nine holes. Harmon never missed a fairway and hit all nine greens. Not bad for someone who doesn't play that often but who definitely knows the game inside and out. And the tips this man provided still resonate to this day.

Michael Jordan

Okay, we didn't get to tee it up with M.J. at Shadow Creek, but running into the hoops legend was the next best thing. Helping out with a photo shoot, a couple of us walked into the dining room at Las Vegas' ultimate golf course and ran smack into Air Jordan on his way to the practice facility. Yes, he's taller than he looks. Yes, he's nicer than some may like to admit. And, yes, he's passionate about the game -- some may even call it obsessed.

Feb 18, 2014



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Bill Bowman

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Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 16-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.