TPC Las Vegas: A tried and true trip through desert golf elegance

By William K. Wolfrum, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- Heading off to start your round of golf at TPC Las Vegas, the mind whirls with perceived threats. This is a Tournament Players Course, after all. The greatest golfers in the world have teed it up here. The imagination runs wild -- is every hole a forced carry? Are there dragons in those famed canyons? Will wild wolverines assault you as you line up to putt? Will PGA Tour pros like Dean Wilson (once the pro at TPC Las Vegas) mock your every poor shot?

18 Holes | Public | Par: 71 | 7104 yards
TPC Las Vegas - 10th hole
When played from the correct tees, TPC Las Vegas can come across as a downright subtle golf course.
TPC Las Vegas - 10th holeTPC Las VegasTPC Las Vegas - 18th holeTPC Las Vegas - No. 2 greenTPC Las Vegas No. 2

It can be nerve wracking to say the least, especially for a high-handicapper. But, alas, the golf course is not lined with land mines, nor is there any other other-worldy interference that will destroy your game -- unless you fool-heartedly attempt to play the back tees when your game isn't up to the challenge.

But when played from the correct tees, TPC Las Vegas will not only dazzle with breath-taking views and immaculate fairways, it also comes across as a downright subtle golf course.

Of course, it's a subtlety that hides numerous challenges, from well placed bunkers to forced carries over desert canyons.

"It's a very challenging course, but if you are a high handicapper it's manageable," said Jaclyn Beaudreau, TPC Las Vegas' director of business development. "And for mid-range handicappers we offer blended tees that will keep it challenging in enough places."

More than any other aspect of the golf course, what will grab the attention of most golfers are the greens. Fast but consistent and in stellar condition for the desert area, this is where you can see the top pros fight to make birdies.

"The greens here are just the best," said Mark Ritzer of Nanty Glo, Pa. "They play fast but they're true."

TPC Las Vegas has bite

Designed by Bobby Weed and Raymond Floyd, TPC Las Vegas starts you off with a charming 359-yard, par 4 that should get your juices flowing and your scorecard looking bright. But it doesn't take long to take a bite out of you. The 196-yard, par-3 second hole will at once dazzle you with its beauty while visually intimidate you. The downhill "desert island" hole is a visual delight, but proper club selection is a must or you'll be experiencing your first ball lost to the desert.

The rest of the golf course provides a variety of challenges -- big-hitters can let the big dog eat on such holes as the 604-yard, par-5 sixth and the 612-yard, par-5 15th. But while distance will benefit you on such holes, strategically placed bunkers and slim fairways means accuracy is just as important as length if you want to be lining up a birdie putt.

At No. 18, TPC Las Vegas gives you a little taste of everything. A 448-yard, par 4, the 18th presents a narrow fairway and a green protected by bunkers to the right and water to the left. It is truly a classic finishing hole.

TPC Las Vegas: The verdict

Kenny Vahle of Quincy, Ill., has played golf courses throughout the United States, including in the golf mecca of Myrtle Beach. But ask him about TPC Las Vegas and he doesn't hold back his enthusiasm for the course.

"Excellent, just excellent," Vahle said. "I've played all over the place and this ranks with the best."

You'll definitely struggle to find a better golf course in Las Vegas, and the staff showcases a pride about the course they have to offer. Beautifully managed greens and fairways and outstanding desert views make TPC Las Vegas a visual delight. And while multiple challenges await both duffer and scratch-golfer alike, a thoughtful golfer with shot-making skills can end the day with a lower-than-anticipated score on a PGA Tour course. Just make sure your putting is ready for the challenge.

TPC Las Vegas: Price and promotions

It will run you about $175 to play TPC Las Vegas, but until May 1 on Sundays through Thursdays, the course is offering a rare promotion - for $199 you get a round of golf and a pair of Adidas golf shoes. And while -- like most golf courses in Las Vegas -- the number of players is down somewhat, Beaudreau said they've done what they can to keep a steady stream of golfers heading to TPC Las Vegas.

"Any high end amenity is hurting most these days, but on days we know we won't be as busy, we try and give back to hotel workers and those in the military by offering reduced rates," she said. "So we like to give back, plus we've had more than 300 people take advantage of the Adidas shoes promotion."

TPC Las Vegas also is home to the Tour Academy for players looking to tighten up their game and receive a golf lesson. Also, visitors who stay at the J.W. Marriott Resort and Spa get priority tee times and get access to more of TPC Las Vegas' amenities.

William K. WolfrumWilliam K. Wolfrum, Contributor

William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.

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