January 2, 2009–Robert Gamez, who grew up playing on Las Vegas golf courses, was the 1990 Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour. He won two events that year, including his first official start on the PGA Tour, the Northern Telecom Tucson Open, but then didn't win again until the 2005 Valero Texas Open. But back in 1992*, Gamez fired a 10-under par 62 at the new Painted Desert Golf Club. That round still stands as the official course record.
The round came during the Nevada Open, an event that features top amateurs and pros from the area and beyond, and while Gamez doesn't recall the specifics of the day, he does have fond memories of playing Painted Desert. "I always enjoyed playing Painted Desert because it was a fun course and had some challenge," says Gamez, who won the Nevada Open that year. "And that's pretty cool that after all these years my course record has held up. Unfortunately, that was such a long time ago that I don't recall a whole lot about the round, but what I do know is that to shoot 62 you have to drive the ball well and make a lot of putts, especially some 15-20 footers throughout the round. And that's what I did that day."
* Despite the recent theory that Gamez' course record was shot in 1989, and info provided by past managers of Painted Desert Golf Club that confirmed that, new information shows that Gamez' course record was recorded in 1992. In an article for the 2006 July/August issue of VegasGolfer Magazine, writer Roger Graves details Gamez' record thusly: "He (Gamez) was enjoying a solid year on the PGA Tour in 1992 when he surprised officials by filing an entry to compete in the Nevada Open at Painted Desert Golf Club, one of the first real desert courses in Las Vegas." Gamez won the event and then donated his winnings to the Southern Nevada Junior Golf Association, where he learned the game.
"I have never forgotten my roots, never forgotten where I came from," Gamez told Graves. "I've always enjoyed playing in the Nevada Open, and I was just trying to play my best and win the tournament. The course record was frosting on the cake. What I remember most about winning was that it was a lot of fun, just playing in front of so many friends and family. Plus, it was being played at Painted Desert that year, and it was on a course I've played many, many times."
Painted Desert Golf Club, a Jay Moorish design, is known as Las Vegas' first true desert golf course, and is now operated by the award-winning EAGLE Golf management group. This Las Vegas resort course is open to the public and is a place where Las Vegas golfers–visiting and local–can find a friendly round of golf. Click now to reserve your Las Vegas golf tee times for Painted Desert Golf Club. Or you can click here to join the official Painted Desert Golf Club email club.
Gamez grew up in Las Vegas and is a member of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame, and in addition to winning those three PGA Tour tournaments he also won the 1994 Casio World Open in Japan. He has collected about $8.5 million in total earnings on the PGA Tour. Gamez grew up playing and winning on the best Las Vegas golf courses, and by the time Painted Desert Golf Club opened in Las Vegas in 1987, Gamez was playing collegiate golf at power house University of Arizona after an award-winning career at Clark High School. Gamez was also is a former Player of the Year of the Southern Nevada Golf Association.
In 2009, Gamez, who missed securing his official PGA Tour playing privileges during the PGA Tour's 2008 Q School, will play events on both the PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour in hopes of regaining his full-time status on the big tour. He earned $249,944 to finish 190th on the official 2008 PGA Tour money list. His best finish was a tie for 16th at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. In 2007, he earned more than $690,000 and finished 132nd on the money list. Gamez now lives in Florida, where he spent much of the off season completing work on a new house. He finished 87th at the recently complete PGA Tour Q School.