Las Vegas, Nev. (Oct. 21, 2015)–Convincing Golf Summerlin Director of Golf and PGA of America Professional Donny Long to talk about himself for more than a few seconds at a time is fairly difficult. Instead, Long, who grew up in Las Vegas playing golf and soccer with and against current PGA TOUR star Scott Piercy, switches the conversation to the three Las Vegas golf courses he oversees and his family. And that’s just the way he likes it. –By Brian Hurlburt
Golf Summerlin is a trifecta of fun and affordable Las Vegas golf courses designed by the esteemed architect Greg Nash and Billy Casper, a member of the Las Vegas Golf Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, both recently passed away. The courses are the full-length Palm Valley Golf Club and Highland Falls Golf Club, and the 18-hole executive course Eagle Crest. Each are worth the play and described by many as the hidden gems on the Las Vegas golf scene even though they have each been a part of the Las Vegas Golf Region since the nineties.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of this group of golf courses for a few reasons,” says Long, who got his start in the golf business working in the cart barns of the courses as a youth. “I have a lot of history with the courses, having worked here when I was younger, and I love working here because of the membership and residents. It’s a unique situation because the courses are owned by the residents, and I work with a wonderful board.”
Long believes each of the Golf Summerlin layouts are unique, but when added together make up a terrific combination. “Highland Falls kind of speaks for itself with the dramatic views of the city and having won the Best of Las Vegas poll twice,” says Long, “Palm Valley is a wonderful layout and has been getting rave reviews about course conditions since the over-seed and our renovation of the cart paths and other improvements. For some reason, a lot of people think Palm Valley is private but we want everyone to know that it’s a public course and all locals and visitors are welcome.
“Eagle Crest is just a quality and fun layout, and arguably the toughest challenge of the three, despite it being an executive course. You get some of the same views at Eagle Crest that you do at Highland Falls and many people love the course because you can play it in about 2.5 hours and have a wonderful day. It’s definitely our diamond in the rough.”
Long is a Class A PGA of America professional with strong ties to Las Vegas which include growing up with Piercy, who finished 22nd in the FedEx Cup points standings this year and is a 3-time winner on the PGA TOUR. Long and Piercy played club soccer together for many years and then played against each as other high schoolers. Piercy played soccer and golf at Bonanza while Long played at Cimarron-Memorial. Billy Harvey, who went on to play college golf at BYU, was also a buddie of Long’s growing up.
“We played a lot of soccer together,” Long remembers. “Scott was a defenseman, and because I played midfielder we matched up in high school after our club soccer days. He was very tough on the field. As for golf, we all would play and practice at muni. I took lessons from Jerry Belt and Scott worked with Tom Carlson. But I really didn’t start playing golf seriously until I threw out my arm playing baseball (rotator cuff, elbow), and that was just before high school tryouts. You could tell Scott had something special.”
Now life is coming full circle for Long. He has a family and his kids, Aidan and Austin, are athletes like their father was. They are both baseball players and Long spends most of the time he isn’t at one of the Golf Summerlin courses coaching their teams. Long relishes the time spent with them and wife, Mandie and most family trips these days center around baseball tournaments.
The golf business and family definitely come first at the moment for Long, but he will always look back fondly on the good ole days with Piercy and Harvey. And the late afternoons teeing it up as a young professional with longtime friends and colleagues like Shane Sanchez, Dave Kitchen, Doug Anderson, Jim Neigbors, John Spatz, Jeff Aden, Mike Dickerson, Billy O’connor and Mike Gehner.