Attention, golfers: Make the call soon to join hundreds of golfers from around the world May 29 through June 2 for the second largest, five-day, 54-hole, net, stoke play golf tournament in the nation, the Mesquite Amateur! Thanks to Mesquite Gaming, owner of CasaBlanca Resort and Virgin River Hotel, this tournament is celebrating its 15th year of world-class golf and resort-style fun.
I had the opportunity to interview Christian Adderson, corporate sales manager for Mesquite Gaming and Mesquite Amateur tournament director, about its rich history and a few cool facts.
Scott Dunford: Christian, you’ve been involved now for 12 years with this tournament. Who actually started the tournament, and why has it become the second largest of its kind in the country?
Christian Adderson: It started with its first director, Mark Lynch, who with management looked at how successful these types of tournaments were in other parts of the country in bringing awareness to established and up-and-coming golf destinations.
SD: What’s included in the entry fee?
CA: The Mesquite Amateur tournament entry fee includes three rounds of golf; a private, nightly catered dinner each night; a chance to win cash cards and raffles and to qualify to play in the championship round. In addition, each player is given a tee gift with $100 credit to TaylorMade Mobile Pro Shop. Guests are welcome to join players at each dinner for a very reasonable fee. Our catering department does a fantastic job with these nightly dinners. During the tournament, we have a film crew daily shooting photos and video that is shown on the big screen each night. Other events include Cigars Under the Stars, dedicated nightly entertainment, a Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament, a wine tasting at Katherine’s Restaurant, special spa package offerings, and more.
Golf courses involved include Conestoga, Palms, CasaBlanca, Falcon Ridge, The Oasis Palmer and Canyons as well as Coyote Springs. The final round is played at the CasaBlanca Golf Course where we also stage the Nevada Open. CasaBlanca is a great course for amateur players and professionals to test their skills with others of similar abilities and age.
SD: In the 12 years you’ve been involved with this event, have you seen any significant changes?
CA: We’re always looking for ways to increase the value to each player. Last year, we introduced a TaylorMade Adidas mobile pro shop where each player is given $100 in credit to spend as they choose, whether it be for equipment or apparel. Folks can shop for items that they want versus a typical gift bag of balls, logoed ball markers, and shirts. We have a great relationship with these two suppliers, so if you wanted that new M2 driver, you’ll get an even better deal than at your local pro shop.
SD: Do you ever sell out?
CA: We’ve always had enough golf courses in the region and can always add more players for the Mesquite Amateur. Our biggest year was 743 players in 2008. In the last few years, we’re averaging about 500–600 players.
SD: How does this type of event help our local economy in Mesquite?
CA: One of the coolest things I’ve seen over the years is that players make Mesquite their second home or retire here. Aside from that, players in the tournament generally stay in Mesquite a full week, supporting our local restaurants, hotels, casinos, and retailers.
SD: Do a lot of players return year after year?
CA: We’ve had a few players who’ve been here all 15 years and others multiple times over. We typically announce them at the dinners and provide a few extra benefits and discounts for those recurring participants. They’re the ones who are truly our ambassadors, helping us promote the event and garner new players year after year.
SD: Where do most of these folks come from?
CA: It’s an international field: eight players from France, two from the Netherlands, and several French and Italians and 20–25 Canadians have already registered for this year’s tournament. Our top five participating states are California, Washington, Texas, Colorado, Utah, and Florida.
SD: What do you think is the biggest draw, other than the golf, for visitors?
CA: A small-town atmosphere at a first-class event! We treat our golf tournaments like they’re PGA events. We have an official scoring team that provides live scoring online. For the championship round, we have live scoring on each hole so that anyone in the world can see what’s happening hole by hole.
SD: Explain again how the format and prize money works.
CA: This is a net tournament flighted by age and handicap with approximately 30–35 players in each flight. I have five men’s divisions and a women’s division of all ages. First place winners in each flight get a choice of a Callaway or TaylorMade $650 gift card all the way down to 10th place winners who receive a $75 gift card. We end up paying about 30 percent of the field.
I’d like to thank Christian for his time and efforts in making Mesquite a first-class destination for tournaments like this one and the Nevada Open. This tournament is a must play if you haven’t played in a competition that feels like the real deal, complete with a gallery, a scoring committee, and real-time scoring online. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? Visit mesquiteamateur.com for all the details and entry fee information. See ya on the links.