Las Vegas, Nevada (September 3, 2015)–Longtime Class A PGA of America teaching professional Greg Wickensimer casually mentions during a conversation that he grew up with the Nicklaus boys then he quickly moves on to another subject, leaving the golf writer taking notes a bit stunned at the nonchalance of the comment. Wickensimer, the teaching professional at Eagle Crest Golf Club, grew up in the Columbus, Ohio, playing against–and with–Jack Nicklaus, Jr, and Gary Nicklaus, the sons of the legendary Golden Bear, Jack. Several decades later, those memories and a love of the game continue to keep Wickensimer motivated and actively teaching the game. Eagle Crest is one of three popular Las Vegas golf courses of the Golf Summerlin trifecta. –By Brian Hurlburt.
“I played a lot of junior golf with Gary and Jackie, Jr., and those were great times,” says Wickensimer, who went on to play several mini tours prior to entering the PGA of America organization. “I still remember the first time I met Mr. Nicklaus. It was at Muirfield, and I was in a playoff of a tournament with Gary, and all of a sudden we head back to the first tee to start the playoff and a big crowd all of a sudden gathers. I thought it might be for the playoff, but then Mr. Nicklaus appears. That was a lot of pressure for a young kid. Needless to say, I lost the playoff, but it’s still is a pretty good memory.”
Wickensimer won his first golf tournament at the age of 7 and then went on to a four-year varsity high school golf career and a couple All-conference selections. He went to college at Ohio Wesleyan and then turned professional, grinding on the mini tours in Florida. He then moved to Las Vegas around 2000 when a buddie of his told him about how good the year-round weather was and the opportunities that were blossoming in Las Vegas golf.
Over the years Wickensimer has been the head professional at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort, worked as a teaching professional at Callaway Golf Center, and now resides at Eagle Crest, a fun and beautiful executive course in the northwest part of Las Vegas. Throughout all of his stops, his love of teaching has remained and his new gig at Eagle Crest is the best of all worlds.
“I like the fact that I can work in the shop plus also have a very active teaching schedule,” says Wickensimer. “We have a great community and members here, and a lot of golfers who live very near the course so I keep busy, plus we attract golfers from other parts of Las Vegas valley as well.
“Eagle Crest is a fun course that doesn’t take too long to play so it is perfect for beginning players, but it also is the perfect course for better players to hone their short games. You can play the course and be back in the clubhouse or home sipping a cocktail in less than 3.5 hours. And our setting is beautiful and we have some terrific views.”
Wickensimer keeps his teaching philosophy very simple, and has an easy suggestion for golfers looking to take a few strokes off their round. “‘Swing tension free’ is the best tip I can give any golfer,” says Wickensimer. “I know that sounds pretty simple, but if you have a lot of tension in the swing you can’t be successful in this game. I don’t teach any two golfers the same and my philosophy is to work to the strength of every player. Usually most players do a few things in the swing well so I just build on those strengths.”
The other two Las Vegas golf courses at Golf Summerlin are Palm Valley Golf Club and Highland Falls Golf Club, two full-length courses. Eagle Crest has a nice niche in the Vegas community, and an annual tradition at the layout has become the annual Glow Ball night tournament that benefits Three Square, one of Las Vegas’ most worthy charitable organizations. The tournament will be played for the third time this year on the night of October 3, and all golfers, visiting and local, are invited.
“The Glow Ball is a cool event, and this year we are taking it to another level,” says Wickensimer. “Not only will the golf balls and flagsticks be glowing, but many areas of the course will be ‘shining brightly’ in the evening sky. The green boundaries will be glowing, the cart paths will be glowing, and we plan to decorate other parts of the course as well. This could be the funnest golf tournament on the calendar each year and it is meaningful to us to support a charity such as Three Square.”
Event registration is $45 per person and includes a $20 donation to Three Square, light appetizers donated by Cantina Laredo at Tivoli Village, dessert donated by Whole Foods Market, 9 holes of golf and one glow-in-the-dark golf ball. Additional opportunities to give to the local charity will also be made available through raffles, the purchase of extra golf balls and more.
Registration is open at the Eagle Crest pro shop now. The field is limited so act quickly to become involved. Each player must bring a flashlight for use while driving the golf carts around the course. You can also call the Eagle Crest pro shop at 702.240.1320 for more information or visit the official Golf Summerlin website.
“Golf has given me so many wonderful opportunities and I have seen so much in my lifetime,” says Wickensimer. “I have been to every state, played with and met so many great people, and I owe it all to golf.”
Sounds like a certain Golden Bear would be approve.