Most of the curtains are closed along the row of houses that run down the ninth fairway of the Las Vegas Country Club.
In more typical times, the outdoor pool (enclosed by iron gates) and manufactured streets would offer a sanctuary from the arid desert. A degree of tranquility also in the face of the chaos that spreads along the nearby Strip. This is a part of the city that always sleeps.
Well almost. Not this week. This week, the United States has arrived in Las Vegas and LIV Golf has arrived in Sin City: on the eve of the first Super Bowl here, the Saudi Arabia-financed company is hosting its first event in the desert.
This week, life at the country club unfolds to the rhythm of electronic music. On the short walk from the clubhouse, back down the fairway toward the ninth tee, the pace gets stronger with each yard.
The par three 8th hole at Las Vegas Country Club has become the Party Hole
‘Golf, But Louder’ is the motto printed on the galleries built around the tee box and green.
This week, in the entertainment capital of the world, LIV brought the Party Hole. On the par-three 8th hole, around the tee and around the green, fans in makeshift galleries are invited to let loose. From a podium at the edge of a water hazard, a DJ directs the crowd. Towering over the hole is one of the many resorts that loom over this course.
At first glance, Las Vegas should be LIV Golf’s second home. Both have become synonymous with expensive bets and flashy flashes of wealth. “Golf, but harder,” the signs here shout.
So far there has only been one problem: they built it, people came, they turned up the music… but the party hasn’t arrived. At this rate, the 8th hole won’t ruin any club here. Maybe that will change on Saturday.
Las Vegas resident DJ Gryffin will perform a special set on the par-three hole on Saturday.
Bryson DeChambeau maintains joint lead at LIV Golf Las Vegas after nine second-round birdies
Gryffin, the resident DJ at XS nightclub on The Strip, has been booked for a one-hour slot midway through the final round. But more important? Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson will make up the final group. On the eve of Super Bowl Sunday. The stars have aligned, now they must light the fuse…
LIV has already tried other tactics: Each member of the field has chosen a song to play as they attack the green. T-shirts are thrown into the crowd, ‘Party Hole Cam’ brings some fans to life. The Vegas Golden Knights cheerleaders welcomed the crowd to the field.
Alas, nothing so far has recreated the scenes from last year’s LIV Adelaide, when Chase Koepka’s hole-in-one sparked chaos and beer showers. Meanwhile, a few hours away, the Waste Management Phoenix Open continues to show what can be done. This week, fans were seen rushing to secure their spot on the iconic 16th hole from the moment the gates opened.
Here, shortly after the start of this tournament, the galleries at both ends of the hole were practically deserted. It had been raining and an elderly fan watched from inside his house on Ninth Street.
The few fans dancing in the Party Hole’s ‘Birdie Shack’ – ‘where our bravest revelers congregate’ – seemed primarily concerned with staying warm.
DeChambeau is tied for the lead with Dustin Johnson, who is also 11 under.
A few feet away, volunteers manning the seventh green held signs asking for silence as players stood in front of their putts. Talk about a thankless task: You can stop fans from whispering, but you can’t silence the house music blasting from half a dozen speakers.
By lunchtime Friday, when Johnson and Tyrrell Hatton walked through the tunnel and onto the eighth tee, the galleries had begun to fill. It was a magnificent sight: fans gathered by the glistening water as the sun shone over Las Vegas. It’s a shame the atmosphere remained lukewarm at best.
Johnson and company received a polite, rather than raucous, welcome; A fan overlooking the tee box had a chicken pecan salad.
Maybe that’s a problem with a fast start. By condensing the day’s play, fans only have a few hours to wet their whistle. However, heading into the third day, this tournament is reaching its peak. Gryffin will hope to do some. A special performance by Johnson, LIV’s in-house DJ, wouldn’t hurt either.