Resort at Summerlin: Your Key To TPC At The Canyons

By David R. Holland, Contributor

LAS VEGAS, NV -- In just a short time since its opening in the summer of 1999, The Resort at Summerlin has made a mark as a great alternative to the congestion of the Las Vegas Strip -- especially for golfers.

Finally, a luxury golf, casino and spa resort away from The Strip, where in one month recently, 2.86 million tourists visited Las Vegas. Why would anyone from a big city back east want to come to the formerly "Wild West" to dodge pedestrians and fight traffic?

This beautiful 54-acre resort with two Regent International Hotels is only 25 minutes from the airport and offers its guests 50 percent of the tee times at the Tournament Players Club at The Canyons, host for the Senior PGA Tour's Las Vegas Senior Classic.

The Resort at Summerlin area is surrounded by championship golf courses -- Angel Park Golf Course, Badlands Golf Club, Painted Desert Golf Club, three Del Webb Sun City courses, the TPC at Summerlin and TPC at The Canyons.

All you have to do is make your golf arrangements with the concierge for your preferred tee times, meet at The Putting Green Tavern on the resort grounds, (you can actually warm up on two bentgrass greens designed by Bobby Weed while you wait) and a complimentary shuttle service will take you to your golf course. Even The Las Vegas Paiute Resort, some 20 miles away, is included.

Howard Hughes would like it. The billionaire recluse, an accomplished golfer who qualified for the 1929 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach, purchased this property more than 40 years ago and initiated the idea of a huge master-planned community named Summerlin -- his mother's maiden name.

Hughes would also like The TPC at The Canyons. This championship layout was conceived with two purposes in mind -- to offer play for daily guests and become the new site for the Senior Classic. The TPC at Summerlin had been hosting the senior event and the PGA Tour's Las Vegas Invitational.

Raymond Floyd served as player consultant to golf architect Bobby Weed for the TPC at The Canyons.

"I am very proud of what we have accomplished here," Floyd said. "You can imagine how difficult it might be to build up to the finished product in this environment, starting with raw desert. It has been a very rewarding experience."

The Canyons was built as an environmentally-friendly golf course. It optimizes the desert landscape and that makes some distinctly memorable carries over the desert and deep arroyos found throughout the par-71, 7,063-yard layout. There are four tee selections with the red measuring 5,039 yards. And it's the best conditioned golf course in Las Vegas along with the Paiute layouts.

"The theme of this course is more the natural-rugged look to create contrast," said Chris Gray, Director of Design for PGA Tour Design Services. "That is why we incorporated the natural wash areas and transplanted the natural desert plants, so it would not look created."

"This has what we like to term as Desert Elegance," said Dan Van Epp, President of Summerlin Division. Floyd said the course doesn't have a single signature hole, but has six signature holes. It's challenging enough for the senior tour pros, but is playable for the higher handicappers, too.

Another amazing fact was that through tee placements and strategic shaping of the fairways only 110 acres need to be irrigated.

"This course will really test you when the wind is blowing," said Dan Hammell, The Canyons' Head Professional. "Putts run down to the Valley, toward The Strip, and the contours are very subtle. That makes them very hard to read. Some of them also run off the edges, kind of like Pinehurst No. 2, and the greens can really get firm and fast in the wind."

When the greens are firm it's real easy to roll over the green on approaches, so don't aim at the flag, hit it short of the greens or to the front.

Awarded a four-star rating and proclaimed as one of the "Places to Play in 1998" by Golf Digest, The Canyons' second hole will make you bring out the camera. It's a slightly downhill par-3 desert-island green, only 151 from the whites, but the green is firm. If you bounce over you are in the desert, not water. The pros play it from 196 yards.

No. 3, the hardest hole on the course, has a 220-yard canyon carry on the tee shot from the back tees, a par-4, 466 yards and so does No. 5, a 378-yard par-4, even though this carry is not as intimidating. Both white tees on these holes are much easier.

No. 14, a par-4, 365 yards, is a fun hole. From the back you hit over an arroyo and then on the approach you have to negotiate another deep crevice, probably 20-feet deep.

All the par-3s have canyon carries and for the pros three of the four have carries of 200 yards.

"The course is outstanding," said Richard Shanks. "The staff was attentive, helpful and kept my group of 20 golfers of varying talents going in the right direction. The course is in excellent shape, although the greens tend to be rock hard, but the pace of play was very good. The course is well-planned and well-marked. The amenities -- driving range, locker rooms, pro shop and grill are as good as any public access course I have played and I have played many. It's a must play in Las Vegas."

The Canyons offers more than 60 tees with hybrid Bermuda grass, fairways and rough, along with bentgrass greens.

Pick the correct tee box! Only scratch golfers through a 7 should test the back tees. If you are 13 and above pick the white, not the blue!

The TPC at The Canyons features one of "America's 100 Best Golf Shops" and has been rated as one of the top 50 courses for "Great Service".

The Resort at Summerlin Directions: Take 95 West from I-15 to the Summerlin Parkway exit. Proceed to the Rampart exit and turn left onto Rampart. Canyon Run Drive also fronts the resort. Turn right from Rampart onto Canyon Run and go west one mile to The TPC at The Canyons.

More on The Resort at Summerlin: How about dining in an authentic Irish pub named J.C. Wooloughan? The pub was built in Ireland, dismantled and shipped piece by piece to the Resort. There are nine restaurants in all. The Aquae Sullis is a 40,000-square foot health spa with 36 treatment rooms, a salon, fitness area and boutique.

Chip Shots: Las Vegas now shares the distinction with Coral Springs, Florida of having two Tournament Players Club facilities (The Canyons and TPC at Summerlin).

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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