With the upcoming Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, all talk is about the array of championship golf courses in Sin City. Playing Vegas' best will leave even Timberlake reluctant to say 'bye bye bye.'
LAS VEGAS – There are three letters that are sure to peak every golfer's interest when talking about places to tee it up: T-P-C. As in Tournament Players Club.
The TPC golf courses, run to the highest standards in the industry, dot the United States landscape. Las Vegas is lucky enough to sport two of these layouts: TPC Las Vegas (public) and TPC Summerlin (private).
'The TPC brand is huge for us,' said Todd Hajduk, head golf professional at TPC Las Vegas. 'It's synonymous with excellence and great golf. Here, you can stand on the tee box where Tiger Woods stands and play the same course.'
For years, TPC Las Vegas was in the rotation of courses when the PGA Tour came to Vegas, and more than a handful of PGA Tour pros still call the course home and can regularly be seen on the practice tee honing their skills.
Charley Hoffman, Dean Wilson, Chris Riley, Bill Lunde, Alex Cejka and others.
'People see them as the best of the best, but they are just friends of ours,' Hajduk said. 'To have them want to come out here is cool. It adds a little something to the property, and we take care to make sure they, as well as the rest of our guests, are taken care of.'
The course, designed by Bobby Weed with consultation from Raymond Floyd, is a par-71 roller coaster that plays to 7,080 yards over and around canyons (hence the former name – TPC at The Canyons) in the northwest section of Vegas.
On a crisp, sunny day in October, Las Vegans Mark Huttanus and Paul Racana were all smiles after finishing their round. Getting them to talk about why they chose TPC Las Vegas to play was easy.
'It's a very fair course, but you've got to hit a lot of good shots to score,' said Huttanus. 'The 14th hole (playing just 336 yards, but tee shots must be pinpoint in length and distance to carry the canyon and still find the narrow fairway) is a great hole. It's tough. You've got to be very accurate off the tee as well as with your second shot to score well. It's very unique.'
Racana chuckled that he loves the course for a different reason. 'I find almost as many golf balls out here as I lose.'
Get ready for a wild ride at TPC Las Vegas
The TPC Las Vegas golf course starts off with a prime scoring opportunity in the par-4, 359-yard first hole.
A bunker guards the right side, but a hybrid off the tee will set up a mid-iron into a green that slopes from back to front. So don't be short with your approach, or you'll get to hit another approach. Birdie is a great possibility here.
But then buckle up and hang on, because the ride has just begun.
The par-3 second is a stunner. It plays 196 yards from an elevated tee to an island green – but there's no water, just a 10-foot drop-off to the desert floor below. There is a bailout area to the right and bunkers long, but this is the first of many knee-knocking challenges golfers will face.
The par-4 third, reaching a staggering 466 yards, has around a 200-yard carry over the desert to the landing area (from the tips).
Then players get another breather with a 544-yard par 5 that is a definite birdie chance – providing drives hit the fairway and miss bunkers, and the approach shot manages to escape a huge, yawning bunker that guards the front of the green.
The back nine features a three-hole stretch that players won't soon forget. The 12th (another par 3 with an island green with desert below), and a pair of par 4s with canyon carries, will get the attention of players from tee to green.
'We get a lot of comments about the back nine,' Hajduk said. 'The 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th holes all play around the canyon, and it's just very unique.'
That sets the stage for the finisher, the 448-yard, par-4 18th. With water left (it's the only time water comes into play on the course unless you hit an unbelievably bad shot on No. 10), players should favor the right side of the fairway.
Bunkers left and right cut down the landing area, but find the fairway, and your approach shot becomes much easier.
After the round
The TPC Grille is a great spot to eat breakfast or lunch before or after a round.
It's also a relaxing place to celebrate with friends after that great outing. From fine dining to fine spirits, this one has it all in a comfortable atmosphere.
There's also an outside patio area where you can dine or drink as you take in the great views of the 18th hole and the surrounding Red Rock Mountains.