TPC Las Vegas
"So I jump ship in Hong Kong, make my way over to TPC Las Vegas"
Formerly used by the PGA Tour, TPC Las Vegas is one of those golf courses that seems to have been forgotten. It used to be called TPC The Canyons and the name really says it all. There are plenty of canyons here. Some must be hit over, some are used to frame greens, but all of them look amazing. From 1996-2006 TPC Las Vegas hosted several different PGA Tour tournaments including The Shriners (which now has moved to Summerlin), The Bard Capital Challenge and the Las Vegas Senior Classic. I think the main reason tournaments were moved from here was that the golf course is not super long, so the challenge of Summerlin, or surrounding courses was considered better. I personally think they got it wrong because this is a very good golf course. Originally designed by Bobby Weed, it was then changed and updated by Ray Floyd to what it is now.
The 7,104 yard championship course starts with a fairly daunting par 4. It's only a 328m hole, but from the back tees, the fairway looks difficult to hit. Play this in the early morning and the sun will be directly in your eyes, which makes seeing where your ball goes, challenging. The best play here is to take a hybrid or fairway wood and find the fairway. Anything right will be swallowed by a big bunker, go left and you will find yourself on a high slope with thick rough. The greens here are super quick, so if there is a pin near an edge, don't go hard at it, or you will be chipping again. Par is a great score.
Hole #2 and the canyons that I spoke of here come into play. This 179m par 3 has only the green, then a small area with a bunker off to the left as safe places to land. The green and small area sit like an island in a sea of rocks and sand. Do not be short, as there is a 3 foot wall of rocks guarding the green. It's a tough shot to pull this off after only 1 hole, so make sure you warm up on the driving range with your 179 club beforehand.
Hole #3 is a 426m, par 4 with a waste area running across the fairway at about long hitters distance. Take it up the middle about 220-240 and you will be fine. A wedge to a small raised green that you do not want to miss right will hopefully find you with an uphill birdie chance.
The 4th is the first of the par 5's here and presents you with a good chance at making birdie. It's only 497m and the second shot is downhill to a raised green that does sit at you the wrong way. Don't let that put you off, get close as possible with your second shot and a 4 is in the offering. The green is 32m deep so there is more room than you think. It trails towards the back though so be careful.
Hole #5 and the course turns back towards the west. The early morning sun bathes this hole and it looks fantastic. A drive up the right hand side will see the whole hole come into view and you will see just how important it is to hit this green. From every side, this green is diabolical. Right and your chip shot will run down and over the green, left and you will have to chip up a big hill. Go long and the shot back is tough. If you can hit this green in 2 and 2 putt, be very happy and move onto the next.
The 6th is the second of the par 5's and a genuine 3 shotter. At 552m, there isn't many that will hit this in 2, but that's ok. Hit your drive out to the right and your second closer to the left. This will give you a wedge in and if you can stick it close, this green is pretty flat and will reward you with a birdie for a well struck putt.
The par 3, 7th is 191m and is every bit of it. The long green will most likely have the pin at the back, making this hole longer than it looks from the tee. Take plenty of club because over the back is a good place to miss it. Like most of the par 3's here, hitting the green is really the only way to play them. They are all tough to chip around.
The 418m, par 4, 8th is a tricky hole to navigate from the tee. There looks to be plenty of room to the left and right, but there is not. A desert wash runs across this fairway at about the 240m mark, so take a fairway wood or hybrid and go up left of the middle. This leaves you with a short iron to a back to front sloping green.
That brings us to the end of the front nine and the 9th hole. This par 4, 319m hole just needs you to hit the fairway, then a wedge to the green will give you a great chance of finishing the front in style. There is a small waste area to the right and the green sits at you the wrong way and is only 24m deep, so make sure you have your distances dialled in.
Through the tunnel and onto the back nine, the 10th is a 383m, par 4 with a large water hazard down the left side. Hit down the middle or a little right to best go at this green. Your second shot is uphill so take an extra club to have the best chance.
Hole 11 is another par 4 that looks very narrow from the tee box. Trees right and desert left makes hitting this fairway imperative if you want to make par. Errant tee shots will either see you losing a ball, or chipping out from the trees with sand as you base to hit from.
The 12th is one of the best par 3's on the course. At only 154m, it's short, but the green has elephants buried in it on the right and is surrounded by desert rocks and sand. You have to hit this green to have any chance of making par and you have to be putting uphill to have any chance of making par. Chipping from the right side, as I did, makes the ball just run and run so take care. 3 is a fantastic score here!
Across 15m to the 13th tee and this par 4 presents you with many options. Just how greedy do you want to be? The canyon that separates the tee from the fairway is deep and extends all the way up the right hand side of the hole. Get really greedy and you will have to carry the ball 250m plus if you aim just left of the green. The smart play here is to take a fairway wood and aim left or at the last tree on the left. This gives you a short iron in and a pretty easy par. Carful though, as the green has 2 tiers on it. Make sure you get to the one the flag is on or suffer a long putt. Very good hole.
The 14th hole looks a lot like the 13th, but it is a little shorter and the second shot must go across a desert wash area. At only 333m, the smart play is a fairway or hybrid, followed by a wedge. Make sure you have enough club to get over the desert. Should be an easy par for most.
The 15th hole is the only par 5 on the back nine and in my opinion, the best par 5 on the course. As I said before, this golf course is not known for it's length and there is only 3 par 5's. This awesome hole needs a drive down the left side and a long second shot that needs to stay away from the canyon that runs all the way down the right of the entire hole. Either your 1st or 2nd or 3rd shots could all finish in the canyon so take care to stay away from the right. The green is long and difficult to read so make par here and you will be very pleased with yourself. Houses down the left hand side of the hole makes hooking anything bad as well. Keep it straight and enjoy this great hole.
Hole 16 and the last of the par 3's. This 184m hole sits at a funny angle from the tee. If the pin is back right, you will have to negotiate going over a bunker. If it's left, there is a bail out, but it is deep rough. A great looking hole, it will take a well struck, accurate long iron to set you up with a par.
Step up on the 17th tee and hit your driver as far as you can. This long 405m uphill then downhill par 4 will make you really work for par. Be sure to stay away from the right side as the deep rough will make the second shot tough. Pay close attention to where the flag is as this green slopes severely from left to right. 3 bunkers and a waste area protect the right, but go left and you will leave yourself with a horrible chip shot.
The 18th is a par 4 where you drive over one last canyon and down to a green well protected on the left by water and on the right by 3 bunkers. No place but the green is good here. It's 409m, but downhill on the second shot. Finish with a birdie or par for a good feeling.
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1. Tees 15/15
2. Fairways 15/15
3. Bunkers 14/15
4. Greens 15/15
5. Design 14/15
6. The 19th 14/15
7. Price 9/10
TPC Las Vegas is part of the TPC Network and if you join up, you can get sent great deals on email that you can use here. It's normaly $175USD to play here, but we got the $130 deal that included a free cap and a $20 gift voucher. Be very careful with your clubs here as the desert areas are "in play", so if you hit into them, you could be playing from rocks for your next shot. The best times to play here are Sept-May as it's super hot outside those times and the desert areas have plenty of nasty animal activity. The course was in absolutely magnificent condition and that could only be helped by the fact that it is a little forgotten on the Las Vegas golf scene. So many other longer and more famous golf courses take their traffic and that has been a good thing for this course. If you want a challenge that will suit long hitters and short hitters, that will suit all types of golfers and you all want to play on a perfect manicured course, then TPC Las Vegas is for you. If you go on holidays in Vegas, don't miss the opportunity to play here.