Las Vegas, Nevada (November 21, 2010 UPDATE 11/22)–The legendary UNLV Golf program, headed by Hall of Fame Head Coach Dwaine Knight, has landed the biggest potential star in the Las Vegas Golf Region, plus two other top recruits. The program won the NCAA Golf Championship in 1998, and has more than a handful of alumni winning golf tournaments on the PGA Tour on a regular basis, but hasn't been a major force on the national scene in a few years. The recent news about the commitments of some top Las Vegas Golf Region and national talent, however, has Rebel Golf primed for an awakening. —By Brian Hurlburt.
Las Vegas pro Trevor Derrheim knows the real deal when he sees it, and has been coaching A.J. McInerny (Class of 2012), who has helped Coronado High School win a state title as a sophomore last season, for several years. Derrheim has worked with top PGA Tour and LPGA Tour pros in addition to some of the Las Vegas Golf Region's best amateurs. He operates Pro-Motion Golf out of Anthem Country Club, and some of the names he has worked with include, both past and present, Ryan Moore, Jay Don Blake, Brent Geiberger, Hwahnee Lee, and several others. McInerny is said to have given his early commitment to UNLV Golf. "It came down to that he thought going to UNLV would prepare him to be the best golfer he can be," said Derrheim, while attending an event at the historic Las Vegas Country Club last week, a few days prior to the signing news becoming public. "He had some other choices, but he likes the courses here and he knows that Dwaine Knight has helped a lot of other players get to where he wants to go." Derrheim also created 59 Belts, a company that is quickly making a name for itself with hip belt buckles and other golf style items. Click now for the official website of 59 Belts, where you can check the latest fashion trends and see which Tour star is sporting a '59' look.
The Las Vegas Golf Region is the home to about 30 pros who play the major tours that have strong ties to Las Vegas golf courses including Charley Hoffman, Moore, Chad Campbell, Chris Riley, Adam Scott, Bill Lunde and Skip Kendall, who all played collegiately at UNLV, learning from Knight, who many say is one of the top short game instructors in the world. Each of the players listed, with the exception of Kendall, who played at UNLV prior to Knight's arrival, have won on the PGA Tour, with Riley and Campbell also representing UNLV and Las Vegas on the United States Ryder Cup team at one time. And Las Vegas Golf Region is also the home to many top golf courses, many of which where the Rebels play and practice. One of the top Las Vegas golf courses is Royal Links Golf Club, home to 18 holes that honor the historic courses played during the British Open. Click now to view the official website of Royal Links Golf Club, where you can reserve tee times in Las Vegas or Las Vegas golf packages, plus get the best rates and deals available. The official home course for UNLV Golf is Southern Highlands Golf Club.
In addition to McInerney, who was a second-team American Junior Golf Association All-American, UNLV recently announced the signings of Carl Jonson and Kurt Kitayama, two high profile junior players, who will joing the program in 2011-12. Jonson, from Bainbridge Island, Wash., is a senior who attends Bainbridge High School. He is ranked 42nd in the country in the latest Golfweek rankings among those in the class of 2011. During the 2009-10 high school season, he recorded a 67.6 scoring average and was his district’s champion. “We are really excited to have Carl join the UNLV men’s golf program,” Knight said. “He comes from an area that we are familiar with, having had so many outstanding players come here from there – Ryan Moore, of course, comes to mind. We are excited that Carl is going to play for the Rebels and I think he will be a real solid addition to our team.”
Kitayama, from Chico, Calif., is also a senior who attends Chico High School. He is the Junior Golf Association of Northern California (JGANC) Player of the Year for 2009 and is a two-time points leader for the JGANC. Besides representing Northern California on the Junior Americas Cup team as well as the Hogan Cup team each of the last two years, Kitayama also turned in a third-place finish at the 2009 Callaway Junior World Golf Championships against an outstanding international field on a U.S. Open venue, Torrey Pines (South Course). He chose UNLV over Oregon and Nevada, Reno. “It is nice to have another Northern California Player of the Year join us,” said Knight. “He has followed in the footsteps of players like Derek Ernst and Eddie Olson, who are both from that area. We have had some very good players from up there and we think that Kurt has a chance to be right there with those guys. He is a good athlete, as he also plays basketball as a shooting guard.” Due to NCAA regulations, Knight is unable to comment on McInerney at this time, but landing this Las Vegas golf star has been a major goal of the program since McInerney burst onto the scene. EDITOR's NOTE: When this was originally posted, it referred to Derrheim as working out of DragonRidge Country Club. He now is out of Anthem Country Club and is teaching a small number of select clients.