Episode 4 - Golden Nugget Lake Charles

Secret Golf's Steve Elkington and Diane Knox visit The Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, Louisiana where they play golf gambling games, and even get in a little spa time.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: On this episode of "Secret Golf," we take a gamble on the bayou and come up aces.

- You know, when you think Louisiana, you think sort of old oak trees, and Spanish moss, and stuff. It's not like that here. If you've never been to the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, then you should come over.

MIKE HEINEN: You've got the golf. You've got the gambling. You've got the restaurants. You know, it's just-- it's a destination.

NARRATOR: We explore gambling inside the ropes.

- We're doing golf gambling games.

- Well, I think we ought to play Wolf.

JULIUS FOURIE: As an amateur, we always watch the pros play. And they are always playing for money. And there is always something on the game.

NARRATOR: And a little spa time with Elk teaches Diane the importance of foot care.

- It's very important to, uh, get your feet worked on when you're a golfer. All big time golfers have a pedicure once a week.

NARRATOR: "Secret Golf" is rolling your way.


- Fore!


THEME SONG: It's "Secret Golf." It's what I'm looking for. It's why I get up every morning with all my good-timing friends. It keeps me coming back for more. "Secret Golf" we're headed down the road.

- Point it towards that side of the [INAUDIBLE]. Hey, Billy, welcome.

THEME SONG: We just loaded up the big show, going looking for the heart and soul.

- Oh!

THEME SONG: We're rolling till the wheels fall off, it's "Secret Golf." Shh. It's a secret.


- Welcome to Golden Nugget.

- Thank you.


This place is amazing. I cannot wait to see the rest of the Golden Nugget.

STEVE ELKINGTON: If you've never been to the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles, then you should come over. You have the most awesome hotel. It's literally five star.

- So Tillman Fertitta is the mastermind behind the Golden Nugget. You walk through the doors. You see the casino. You check into your room. And behind you, you see the biggest and best pool party in the world. You just want to go and have fun.

- I was blown away. I really couldn't believe what is here and what's been developed here. Right from when you walk in reception, you see the pool area. You want to go. You want to be there. And then the casino itself and the restaurants-- it's amazing.

STEVE ELKINGTON: It looks and feels like Vegas. They got-- every fancy gizmo that they got in Vegas, they got it here. They got the pool scene. They got the bands. They've got the Blue Martini Bar. They've got 12 of Tillman Fertitta's restaurants. They've got an unreal golf course-- unreal spa. It's-- it's worth it. It's really something else.


- Inside, it maybe just like Vegas. But out here, you are definitely in Louisiana. We have the river, the beach, the beach bar, and that gorgeous golf course-- The Country Club at the Golden Nugget.

STEVE ELKINGTON: We are at The Country Club at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana, not Vegas, Lake Charles. And I am with local hero, the 1994 Houston Open champion, Mike Heinen-- friend-- Julius Fourie, South African, and my trusty millennial correspondent from Scotland, sexy roxy Knoxy.

- Sexy roxy-- where are we getting this from?

- Golden Nugget style is because everything about the Golden Nugget is gambling and having fun, and there's not a golfer in the world that plays with their friend and they don't do a little gambling.

- So we're here-- a three-hole smackdown about to start. So we're obviously at the casino. So I feel the stakes are high. And gambling has to be involved somewhere.

- Absolutely, it will be involved today. "Secret Golf"-- as everyone knows, we shoot passion and why people love golf. Today's episode is all about gambling.

- So as an amateur, we always watch the pros play. And they're always playing for money. And there's always something on the game. And for us, it-- it just puts that extra edge into the game.

- For a three-man game, which is usually hard to kind of set up a fun game, that makes it a fun game, because you're-- you know, it's everybody against everybody on every hole.



NARRATOR: Imagine a redefined golf experience on a showier side of the bayou where pristine natural landscapes are transformed into a luxury playground. A singular, lavish golf course rests in a unique setting that bestows upon guests a sanctuary in their getaway. Come travel to a destination where the ordinary is extraordinary-- The Country Club at the Golden Nugget.

STEVE ELKINGTON: It's very playable. It's only 6,900 yards from the back. So you can score really well. Oh. The turf is pristine. They've got great turf, and everyone knows that if you're paying money to go play a golf course, everybody wants good turf. This course-- fantastic turf.

JULIUS FOURIE: To me, a nice thing about the golf course is, as an amateur, it's very playable. But it's not an easy course. It's a combination of fairly wide fairways. So for most amateurs, you get away with shots here.

NARRATOR: Currently, the only golf course on any Golden Nugget property, this bayou beauty, was voted one of the best new golf courses by "Golf Digest" in 2015.

- I mean, you've got the golf. You've got the gambling. You've got the restaurants. You've got-- you know, it's just-- it's a destination.


STEVE ELKINGTON: Because we're on the ninth hole at the Golden Nugget, we're going to play a game called 9 Points. So the three of us playing today, if we all tie this hole, we get 3 points each. If one of the-- one of the players wins it, he gets 5. The other two split the 4s. Now, on the tee-- playing out of sheer desperation.

Aww. Look at that. Beauty. He tees his ball up this high. And, um, real strong guy, big legs-- he was a good player when we played the tour. OK. We're moving.

- The hole is pretty open off the tee. So it's kind of all in the second shot.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Oh, guys-- guys just-- that's a pretty good shot though.


MIKE HEINEN: Good shot. Good shot.


STEVE ELKINGTON: See that was-- that was well struck. Was that higher than you wanted? Or was it--

MIKE HEINEN: That was a little-- a little higher than I wanted.

STEVE ELKINGTON: But you hit it solid.

MIKE HEINEN: But I hit is solid, and I was able-- able to cut through the wind.

- The main thing about a putt, as we all know, is you got to read it. It's a read and speed, right?

- I couldn't see him getting it anywhere near making it. It was a matter of whether he was going to two-putt or not.

- I-- I just saw it. I knew it as I hit it. I knew it was a good putt.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Oh, come on. What are you doing?

MIKE HEINEN: That looks pretty good.

STEVE ELKINGTON: What are you-- ahhh!


- I didn't realize it was that good.

- He had an incredible putt. He had like a 60 footer. And, um, he literally almost made it an inch away.

- That doesn't happen often.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Ah-oh. I didn't do any good. That's a 4 for me. Well Oh, no! The worst things happen. So Julius made-- made a par. He had a stroke on that hole. So 4, net 3, beat us, and so he won 5 of the 9 points. We get 2 points, 2 points, and we're playing for $1 a point. So he's-- he's up-- he's up $3 on each of us.

- Oh, man.


NARRATOR: While in Lake Charles, Steve took the opportunity to catch up with one of his old tour mates-- Louisiana native Mike Heinen. And as it is with old friends, not much had changed.

- You know, the thing about Mike was after all these years I hadn't seen him, you know, I could spot him from a mile away. When saw his swing on the range again, he just has that same motion.

NARRATOR: Mike first played on the PGA tour in 1991. And in 1994, he claimed his maiden victory, lifting the trophy at the Shell Houston Open. This was only his 10th start on tour. After recently turning 50, Heinen is ready to return to competitive golf and gearing up to join the PGA Tour Champions.

- I'm excited about it. You know, I think it's kind one of those things I have a little opportunity to do it. I'm still healthy. I still feel like I can play. But I haven't been competitive-- but I enjoy it. I enjoy competing. How about my technology?

- Yeah, you've got an old square old one. You're way back. The most interesting thing about Mike today was he had all this old gear. He had this old driver-- old square Callaway three wood. His putter has got rust all over it. He's got all sorts of different irons.

There it was-- still hits that ball great. If he can hit his old gear like he used to hit his old gear, then he can always upgrade. But he was using it as a tool to evaluate himself, which I thought was pretty darn smart.

NARRATOR: After all these years has now discovered the secret to his game?

- For me, you know, there is no secret. It's just when I play competitively now, go out, try to have fun, get some good shots and enjoy them-- hit a couple of bad shots and not worry about it, and go in the clubhouse, and eat a burger, and have a beer, and get ready for the next round.


- This golden nugget was found in Australia by a man who wants to remain anonymous. He was at the back of his trailer-- dug down, and found it. Contrary to what he will tell you, it wasn't Elk.


MIKE HEINEN: All right, Elk, what are you going to do here? You got a little wind in your face.

- Yeah. You and I grew up in a lot of wind, and, uh, I got 103 yards, and I've got my pitching wedge, which goes a lot further than that. But um, I am going to hit a knockdown shot. If I was going to hit this shot, and it impacted the camera stop, that shaft would have-- a tour average would have about-- that would be vertical about 10 degrees of lean. I would say that this shaft will have about 20 degrees of lean.

So I'm going to play-- I'm going to make sure my hands are more forward, which will take off loft, and I'm knock it down lower. Someone may say, well, why don't you hit a different club? I would say, no, I want-- I want this club, because I want to get the right amount of spin on it to make it stop. So I'm going to hit it low with stop.

Everyone knows, you know, when you walk into the wind, or anything goes into the wind, it tends to blow up, and that's what happens with golf. I mean, when you walk into a big wind, you've got to put your head down. So knock-down shots are no different. You've got to make the ball go down lower.

All right, So we've got 103. I'm going to-- as we talked about, I'm going to have more lean on it. I don't make a big stance, because I'm just-- I've got my weight jacked up under my front foot a little bit so I can catch that ball with a lot more lean. I wouldn't be wide and doing a lot of weight transference here-- a narrow stance. I've pulled it a little bit, but I hit it the right-- I hit it the right height though that I was looking for.

MIKE HEINEN: Perfect hot. Good shot.



DIANE KNOX: Second hole of the smackdown, and we're doing golf gambling games. So which one would you like to play here?

MIKE HEINEN: Well, I think we ought to play point Wolf. The first player hits. He can either go lone wolf, which doubles the bet, or he can watch each consecutive player hit after that and pick his partner as he goes. So it ends up being a two on one.

- So how do we determine who's going to hit first?

- We're going to go ahead and go-- uh, we have to choose the honors by who won the first hole in the smackdown.

- I was hoping you were going to say that.

- There we go. There we go.

- It might need a little help. Oh.

MIKE HEINEN: The way he puts, we might be all right.

STEVE ELKINGTON: We might be all right.

- I really wanted to hit a good shot. I wanted to go lone wolf on that one. That looks good.

STEVE ELKINGTON: How's it looking?

MIKE HEINEN: It might be in the water.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa.

DIANE KNOX: Stay up.


STEVE ELKINGTON: OK. Does he have to make his decision like right now?

JULIUS FOURIE: Let's do it, partner.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Or can he wait?

- He just made it. You're on your own.

- Oh, OK.

JULIUS FOURIE: You're on your own now.

- I always am. No one picks me. What if I-- what if I hit a good one, and I'm right in there? Ah-oh.

MIKE HEINEN: This one is looking good.


MIKE HEINEN: This one is looking good.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Ah-oh. Oh! Whoa! Whoa! Hey, hey, hey, hey.

MIKE HEINEN: Good shot.

- Julius, you picked the Mike as your-- your wolf mate.

- Right.

- You're-- you two--

- Did you say wolf-- wolf mate?

JULIUS FOURIE: I don't like that.

STEVE ELKINGTON: All right, Julius, I can see why you needed a partner.

JULIUS FOURIE: No ways I'm chipping this.


MIKE HEINEN: Again, bird.

STEVE ELKINGTON: What's he on? What is he doing? Is he putting? Almost. Oh! That was close.

- Almost.

- Julius got a little cold feet and took Mike straight out of the gate, and it cost him-- cost him badly.




MIKE HEINEN: Good putt.

- You ever been anywhere when you thought you were going to make this really big noise like when you go, and you're going to sing a song in the shower, and then someone else heard it and go, oh, my god, what are you-- what's coming out of your body? Well, that's kind of what happened to me with the wolf!


MIKE HEINEN: I don't know if that's a wolf.

JULIUS FOURIE: That's an elk. I think it's an elk.




JULIUS FOURIE: Wolves-- wolves eat that. That was not really a wolf howl. You know? No. No.

- It was some combination between some sort of a sick elk and maybe a baby wolf. I don't know. It was awful. But, hey, I won the hole, so that's all that matters.

- So aside from the worst wolf impression I've ever heard in my life, Elk, you won the second hole on the smackdown. Now, the game we were playing was Wolf, the gambling game. What happened? I'm all over the place with the points. They were a team. You were by yourself. And you won.

- They both go it-- you both got to pay me.

- So we both have to pay you.

- $1. And this is $1. And the first hole, Julius won $3 in the game of 9s. And now, I just got two back.

- Yeah.

- Mike, you're down.

- 5.

- So going into the final hole of the smackdown, you need to be making some money.

- I do.

- You're the biggest loser, and that's also a TV show.

- Yeah, but I'm staying at home, so my rent is cheap this week.


- Welcome to my home for this episode of "Secret Golf," the loft suite at the Golden Nugget, Lake Charles. Come on, let me show you around. Wait till you see this. Come and check out the patio here. So you can come and hang out on the comfy furniture. You have your very own private hot tub-- how good is that.

You can eat foods, chill with your friends, have some drinks. The best of it is-- look at your view, looking straight on to the pool for all the parties-- the lazy river there. The spa is right behind us as well.


- Very important to get your feet worked on when you're a golfer. All big-time golfers have a pedicure once a week.

- You get your feet done once a week.

- I walk so many miles, you know?

- I didn't think that I'd be relaxing alongside Steve. I felt I'll get a little bit of alone time here and chill out in the spa, but he had to sit right next to me. I think I have found the best thing about this loft suite at the Golden Nugget.

They have actually thought of everything here. Look at this. I'm going to get some wine.

- Mam, you're not supposed to be here.

- What? You mean this is not my room?

- No, this is Mr. Elkington's room.

- Can I just take the wine?

- No, ma'am, we have to leave. So sorry.

DIANE KNOX: Third and final hole of our three-hole smackdown . We're on the 18th. It's the big one-- the par 5. We've been playing a gambling games. And we have a different one for this hole. It's called Hammer.

- The Hammer is something I learned on the tour playing practice rounds-- didn't know much about it. But Hammer basically is you're going to play a match.

STEVE ELKINGTON: Everyone's playing everyone.

MIKE HEINEN: Everyone's playing everyone. And anyone can hammer at any time. And a hammer means you double the bet.

- So at this point, pros, I just need to remind you I have a stroke.

- I hammer you.

- I also hammer you.

- I accept.

- There we go.

- It'll be a very, very dangerous match if it's for money, because it doubles, doubles, doubles, doubles. And if you don't like the bet, in other words, if I hammer you, and you don't want to take it, then you have to pay me what the bet was. Hammer.

MIKE HEINEN: I'll hammer it too.

JULIUS FOURIE: Well, I'll accept. That's what's fun about hammer is that you-- you get to make those decisions. And it's-- it's one of the more exciting golf gambling games.



MIKE HEINEN: That'll work.


MIKE HEINEN: He's back in play.

- I'm not doing anything today.

- I'm not hammering that.

- Good ball.

MIKE HEINEN: Good shot.

- OK, that's all I need.

JULIUS FOURIE: Great shot.


STEVE ELKINGTON: The old square three wood.

- Great shot.

- That's just short of the green. I'm not hammering that.

JULIUS FOURIE: I'm not hammering that.

STEVE ELKINGTON: I'm not hammering that.

MIKE HEINEN: Oh, I accept your unhammer.

DIANE KNOX: Good shot.

- I accept your unhammer also.

- Look at that.

- Is that-- did I hit it over?

MIKE HEINEN: It's on the green.

- What?

- The third shot-- he's never hit a shot that good in his history of his life.

- Pretty proud of himself. That was-- that was a great four iron.

- It looked like it went over the--

MIKE HEINEN: It's over the little ridge, but I think the flag is over the little ridge too.

- Pulled a little bit.

MIKE HEINEN: Good. The wind is chewing it up.


MIKE HEINEN: Good shot.

- Oh, I tell you what--

- That's good.

- You hit it.

- That's looking good.

- You hit it hard. Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you doing? Oh, my god.

DIANE KNOX: Oh, good shot.

- I don't want to get hammered. I had to a hit good shot.

STEVE ELKINGTON: I think you should hammer him.

- I didn't want to get hammered.

JULIUS FOURIE: I'm not hammering him. He's killing me.

- I really felt like I had a big advantage over both of them in the last hole, being that I'm, you know, just off the edge of the green in two.

- Elk, I see something here. I'm lying net two. You're lying in three. I hammer you.

- Looks like he's learned how to play hammer.

- I have no choice but to accept.

MIKE HEINEN: Oh, good putt.

- Pretty good putt. I was never real good at math, but Julius has got that putt for 5 for 4, and I've got a $4 bet going with him. So I got to make this to tie him probably. Heinen's got a putt there for a 4. I got to make this. I got a $1 bet going with him.

- Correction. I'm going to go ahead and hammer also.

- Oh.

- So I've got a 2-- I've got a 2--

- Or you can not accept.

- No, no. No, I-- I accept.

- We both hammered. And he knew he had to make, but he went ahead and he accepted it.

- Uh-oh.

- Oh!

- Good putt.


- I'm going to give you guys those putts. Thank you, Mike.

- Thank you.

- Thank you for this.

- Thank you.

- The rest, as they say, is history.

- So the final hole of the smackdown-- we're playing Hammer. So what happened here? Who won what?

- Julius was in the hole for 5 of 4. Mike was in the hole for a 4. They tied. I was in a bet with him for $4. I lost that, because I made 5. I was in a bed for him for $2. I lost that. So I lost $6. So on this hole-- you probably got even on this hole for the match.

- I wonder who won.

- We'll going to get hammered, and-- no, I mean we'll go tally it up.


NARRATOR: As the sun sets on our Golden Nugget find, an indelible mark has been left by this Lake Charles treasure.

- I would tell everyone, you know, you think about Louisiana. Most people would say New Orleans. But Lake Charles is-- is the hidden nugget. It's the golden nugget of Louisiana. The best thing about this place is you come to the Golden Nugget in Lake Charles. And you don't need to leave. You can stay in the resort and do everything that you want to do, and you still feel that you had one of the best experiences ever.

MIKE HEINEN: You know, everybody says that we go there all the time. We love it. I mean, it just brought so much to this area that every time I drive through and drive in, I'm like, I can't believe I'm at home, because it feels like I'm on vacation.

JULIUS FOURIE: If you enjoy golf, if you enjoy gambling, if you enjoy eating, you need to come.

STEVE ELKINGTON: It's already proved itself. It's the most popular place between Houston and New Orleans. So it's already famous-- very exclusive. It's beautiful. It's well done. And there's no-- no reason why anyone would not come here and love it.

NARRATOR: On another episode of "Secret Golf," we head to the surf, sand, and splendor that is Southern California.

STEVE ELKINGTON: San Diego is one of the most popular places in the whole country. It's beautiful. The weather's great.

NARRATOR: Steve rides up to Poway and checks out Maderas Golf Club to meet up a secret golf tour player Pat Perez, fresh off his victory in Mexico.

- So you won the damn tournament.

- Yeah, putting in all the work and then seeing it pay off, I knew it was going to pay off. I-- I didn't think it would be that fast.

- What the heck is going on?

- I don't know. It's pretty amazing.

NARRATOR: California is the US surf capital. But our dudes try out a different type of board.

- What's going on here?

GOLFER: Hey, guys, you want to play for some cash?

- You guys ready to play around?

- Yes, we are.

- The Golf Board makes a round of golf so much more fun that, the next thing you know, it's over.

NARRATOR: Our "Secret Golf" correspondent explores the little big town of Poway. Or is it the big little town?

DIANE KNOX: Now. Actually, Poway means the meeting of the little valleys. And this is one of the perfect places to meet-- old Poway Park.

NARRATOR: All that and more on another episode of "Secret Golf."


"Secret Golf" with Steve Elkington has been a presentation of "Secret Golf" incorporated.

SINGER: Shh. It's a secret.