June 20, 2009–Part of our job here at Golf Las Vegas Now is not only to speak directly to the Las Vegas golfers making news, but to bring attention to articles from around the globe that feature those golfers with ties to Las Vegas golf courses. Recently, Newsday writer Neil Best caught up with NBC and US Open television analyst Johnny Miller, who was the architect of Las Vegas golf course Badlands, the home to 27 holes of devilish Las Vegas desert golf. Miller discussed being friends with Las Vegas' Butch Harmon, how Phil Mickelson is dealing with wife Amy's cancer, and more. When Miller opened Las Vegas' Badlands, he infamously called it an "E-ticket ride at Disneyland."
"Phil and I have become pretty good friends, but it’s not like we go out to dinner or anything," Miller told Best about his relationship with the world's number two player who works with Harmon. "I’ve also become pretty good friends with Butch Harmon. Phil was telling me what they’re working on and told me some pretty good stories about Amy. He’s pretty touched by this whole Amy affair, how much people really love Amy and how much they’re pulling for her."
Harmon operates the Butch Harmon School of Golf at Las Vegas golf course Rio Secco that was designed by the US Open Doctor Rees Jones, who helped ready Bethpage Black into a US Open course. Miller is a part of the US Open announcing team where several Las Vegas golfers are in the field including Adam Scott, Chad Campbell, Ryan Moore, Nick Watney and Scott Lewis.
"I need to know what they're doing," continued Miller. "I can guess because I can see their swings what they’re doing, but I can’t guess what they’re working on. It’s nice to know a guy is working on shortening his backswing. Now Phil's swing is more of a 1-2 swing. It used to be more of a 1, 2, 3 swing. It’s much more stable, better under pressure. His misses should be much more accurate. He used to hit so many way left, like at Winged Foot. Butch has done a terrific job making his swing right on plane . . . He's making it more standardized, and the results are there." The Harmon School is open to the public and is staffed with several PGA of America professionals, led by Harmon.
Miller also talked with Best about his comments that some take as too harsh, even comparing himself to that loveable villian on American Idol. "You only want one Johnny Miller on an announce team, just like you only want one Simon Cowell," Miller told Best. "I’ve been referred to as the Simon Cowell of golf. But if you really listen to Simon Cowell, he’s pretty dang accurate. He sometimes gets a little over the top, like I will, but he actually is trying, in his mind, to give you constructive criticism so you can work on it. I don’t think I’m as strong as he is, but when I say something about a guy’s swing I actually am giving him advice. In my mind I’m hoping someone in his house writes it down: ‘Johnny said at the top of the swing your right elbow is popping out.'"
Miller is just one of many top-level golf course designers that have helped turned the Las Vegas brown desert to green. The Las Vegas area is home to more than 60 golf courses, created by such names as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Rees Jones, Tom Fazio, Lee Schmidt, Brian Curley, Pete Dye, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and Sr., Arthur Hills, Jay Morrish, Dave Druzisky and many others. Las Vegas is the Ultimate Golf City.