Field Notes: This Nevada destination is rich beyond just gold

Carson City, Nevada, carved out a big slice of its history with the discovery of gold and silver on the nearby Comstock Lode in 1859. Ten years later, the United States Mint began striking coins in the town that still carries romantic associations with the Old West and the great bonanza years of the late 19th century.

The Carson City and Carson Valley area, just 30 minutes from Reno and Lake Tahoe, has also turned into a neat golfing destination over the last few decades with designs by the likes of Arnold Palmer, Johnny Miller and Peter Jacobson. At more than 4,600 feet elevation, the Sierra Nevada mountain range forms a stunning backdrop against lush green grass and blooming wildflowers. 

Toiyabe Golf Club, New Washoe City, Nevada. :: Photo: Divine 9 Golf Travel

“It’s gorgeous right now,” says Jackie Behan, the longtime owner of Divine 9 Golf Travel, as the area enters the meat of its golf season until early October. “When you play here you’re constantly stunned by the beauty and the expanse of the sky. And the mountains are pretty darn magnificent, especially when you’re standing at the base of them.”

The area is highlighted by 216 holes of traditional and links-style layouts. There are an additional 90 holes of golf within a short drive on the Divine 9 Carson Golf Trail.

The high desert location offers plenty of variety. For example, the Dayton Valley Golf Club boasts 40 acres of water. 

“There are a lot of rivers, so we’re not strictly desert courses like most people would think of Nevada,” Behan says. “You have a lot of water to navigate and each course seems to have a different type of a challenge.”

Genoa Golf Club, Minden, Nevada. :: Photo: Divine 9 Golf Trail

The Las Vegas area, more than six hours south of Carson City, garners most of the publicity when it comes to Nevada and desert golf. However, the cost can be steep to play. 

“It’s more than the money,” Behan says. “There is just an experience here that goes way beyond sitting inside a casino. Sure, you can do that; that’s all available in terms of gaming all around us. But the beauty of the land when you’re out and around, and even the wildlife, and the quality of golf is just awesome for what you pay. It’s an amazing opportunity a lot of golfers don’t know about.” 

Groups from northern California and several other Pacific Northwest states make up most of the Carson City golf travel business, Behan says. 

“We encourage golfers to enjoy some of the old Nevada things that are hard to find in areas other than his,” she says. “There are historical sites along with old-style Nevada hospitality and gaming.”

Turning Stone Resort Casino, Verona, New York.


Already one of the nation’s leaders in gaming and golf with three 18-hole courses and two nine-hole layouts, Turning Stone resort in upstate New York opened a new Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed golf practice area in late April. 

Jones Jr. also designed the resort’s Kaluhyat course.

The new practice area is located near the Shenendoah Clubhouse and includes a 300-yard driving range, featuring five target greens with bunkers that replicate shots golfers will face on the course. The practice area also includes a short game area with a large putting green, chipping area and bunker. 

The facility comes on the heels of a third consecutive record-breaking golf season for the resort. Turning Stone saw a 40% increase in overnight golfing trips in 2023 with golfers traveling to the region from 44 states and several countries, including Australia, England, Japan and Spain. The number of rounds played at Turning Stone’s three 18-hole courses — Atunyote, Kaluhyat and Shenendoah – also increased by more than 15% last year. 

This record-breaking year for golf tourism coincides with a historic investment in Turning Stone’s evolution — a $370 million expansion of the property, which is located in Verona about 35 minutes from Syracuse. Also added has been NY Rec & Social Club, a new nightlife and sports lounge destination; a conference center that will double the resort’s existing convention and meeting spaces; a 250-room hotel called The Crescent; and a seafood restaurant, Salt Seafood and Raw Bar that features menu developed by Turning Stone’s award-winning culinary team.

Turning Stone opened its first course, Shenendoah, more than two decades ago and also has the state-of-the-art Golf Dome, which is one of the only indoor short game practice facilities in the country and an expansive Golf Superstore that offers the latest gear and a newly expanded club fitting facility.

The Golf Club at Chapel Ridge, Pittsboro, North Carolina.


Bread, eggs, milk … and now golf. 

Golf’s recent revival has come “at a cost” of sorts, according to the National Golf Foundation. 

The average U.S. public 18-hole fee – when accounting for discounts — is still just north of $37 when excluding resorts. That’s up from about $32 in 2020. 

But rising green fees — overdue when compared to inflation – very much reflect the improved supply and demand balance, and more broadly, the improved health of the game, the NGF says. 

The golf business overall is cyclical. When some categories thrive, others may not necessarily do as well. For the first time in a generation, golf courses are perhaps the business segment enjoying the greatest benefit from the current surge.

Since the start of 2020, the number of annual U.S. rounds is trending 12% above the 10-year pre-pandemic average. Meanwhile, over the past four years, peak 18-hole green fees at public facilities have climbed more than 16% cumulatively, per an analysis of the NGF’s definitive golf course database. These recent increases follow a decade of supply/demand imbalance (oversupply) that limited courses’ pricing power. This stretch, on the heels of the Great Recession, saw public green fee increases on a scale that trailed U.S. inflation rates.

Increased demand is the driving force behind green fee increases, but not the only reason, the NGF says. Some facility operators cite their need to offset increased costs related to labor, supplies and maintenance. Others are seeking to keep pace with competitors within their market.

But the healthy balance between supply and demand means golf operators have been able to raise prices meaningfully in recent years and still have full tee sheets. It also means they’re able to do more to invest in and improve their product. A recent operator survey found almost half (49%) of public facilities across the country and 62% of private facilities undertook “significant” course-or-clubhouse related capital investments over the past year. Increased revenues and improved financial health means golf courses can pursue investments like new cart fleets, maintenance equipment, driving range technology, enhanced drainage/irrigation, and turf and chemicals.