A History to Back the Reputation
“The National” has a long history in the Las Vegas Valley. Just after completion in 1961, The National, then called the Stardust Country Club, hosted its first professional golf event, the LPGA Championship. From that date forward history was made. The layout, designed by Bert Stamps, is traditional in design and even today is a challenge for the best players. The National has become a landmark over the last 50 years. It was host to the movie “Casino”, starring Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci. Current Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman also had a cameo role. The house used in the movie sits off ot the left of the #1 Tee Box between the #1 and #18 fairways.
During the 1960’s, The National played host to the big names of the Strip. The Rat Pack frequently played golf then spent time in the bar. Although all 4 became good players in their own right, it was widely known that Dean Martin and Peter Lawford were the ones to beat. Locals tell great stories about late-night matches under the glow of the driving range lights. Many nights would have Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis Jr. around the piano, entertaining their guests with songs and stories, enjoying the cuisine at the National.
Through the years The National has had several different owners and names. Initially, the course was named the “Stardust Country Club”, was owned by the Stardust Hotel and Casino, and opened for play in October, 1961. In 1969, the Del Webb Corporation acquired the club and renamed it the “Sahara-Nevada Country Club”, which it remained until 1982 when it was purchased by American Golf Corporation. The name was then changed to “Sahara Country Club”. In 1994 a partnership was formed between American Golf and the Las Vegas Hilton and the course was again renamed to the “Las Vegas Hilton Country Club”. In 1998 the named changed once more to the current Las Vegas National Golf Club. in 2008 the club was sold by Amerian Golf to a partnership, and the management of the course was awarded to Harrah’s Golf Management Group.
Over the years, The National has seen many professional tournaments beginning with the LPGA in 1961. The last LPGA Tournament was played in 1966. The PGA Tour also hosted events beginning in 1967 with the Tournament of Champions. From 1969 through 1976, the Tournament continued forward as the Sahara Invitational. After an absence of PGA or LPGA events until 1993, The National became part of the rotation for the Las Vegas Invitational. This included both the Desert Inn and Las Vegas Country Clubs. 1996 was the last year that The National was part of the Lasa Vegas Invitational Tournaments, as the Tournament Players Clubs (TPC-Summerlin, TPC-Las Vegas) became the main venues. The tournament winners of both the LPGA and PGA events reads like a who’s who of professional golf. Mickey Wright and Sandra Haynie were among the LPGA winners. For the PGA, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins, Al Geiberger, Davis Love III, and Jim Furyk have all hoisted the winner’s trophy. Tiger Woods won the event in 1996, for his very first win on the PGA Tour. The highest score he shot for the tournament was at The National where he posted a 70. On the other courses, he broke 70 in each round. The course record of 63 was initially set by Arnold Palmer in 1967 during the Tournament of Champions. The record held for 24 years until it was broken in 1991 when Tom Kite shot 62. David Graham also shares this course record.
Over the years The National has played host to celebrities from all over the world. Professional athletes, including members of the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, PBA, and PBR have all held events here. The course, with its mature landscaping and proximity to the Las Vegas Strip, make it a truly unique and historic site.