Plan of attack: How to play TPC Las Vegas

By Bill Bowman, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- TPC Las Vegas, a Bobby Weed/Raymond Floyd design, played host to the PGA Tour for many years as the Tour's top players took their best shots at this par-71 design.

TPC Las Vegas - hole 2 green
Hitting the green is paramount to any success on TPC Las Vegas' par-3 second hole, called "Canyon."
TPC Las Vegas - hole 2 greenTPC Las Vegas - 15th holeTPC Las Vegas - clubhouse and 18th

This golf course tests players' accuracy off the tee, their aggressiveness on second shots and their putting touch on these speedy -- but true-rolling -- greens.

"You've really got to know when to attack the flags and when to be a little conservative," said Todd Hajduk, head professional at TPC Las Vegas. "There are a handful of holes where, if you short-side yourself, you'll have a very tough time getting up and down for par, so you've got to play smart."

The course record is 62 and held by current or former PGA Tour players including John Daly, Joel Edwards, Lee Janzen, Steve Jones, Craig Barlow, Dan Forsman and Jay Williamson. Think you've got what it takes to play here? Well, let's head to the golf course and see.

TPC Las Vegas: On the attack

TPC Las Vegas gives players a great opening hole to start the round off on a positive note.

The first hole is a par 4 playing just 359 yards from the tips. A good tee shot (driver isn't necessarily the club of choice here) will give players a short iron into the green and a birdie effort to start your round. But don't fall asleep after a good drive. The second shot here is crucial.

The green, while it is good-sized, has a couple of runoff areas that will penalize players for poor approach shots leaving them with testy chip shots for their third. Take advantage on this hole, because the challenge is definitely going to get tougher as the round progresses.

A couple of other places to attack are a pair of the par 5s. Most par 5s are usually places where the green light shines the brightest to attack a course, and TPC Las Vegas is no different.

The fourth hole, playing just 544 yards from the tips, and the 15th, stretching out to 612 yards, are at the opposite ends of the attack spectrum. The fourth hole is a spot to take a gamble in getting home in two. A good drive off the tee will leave players with a hybrid or long iron into a green fronted by a large bunker. Pull off two great shots, and you'll be looking at an eagle possibility.

The 15th hole is another hole to attack, but this time you'll want to set up that attack with the third shot. At 612 yards, only the biggest of hitters have any chance to get home in two. Mere mortals will have to settle for ensuring they have a great angle and yardage for their third shot into this well-bunkered green.

As with all par 5s, playing it smart after a good drive is paramount to scoring well. Going for the green in two may seem like a good idea when you're in the fairway, but it's important to play to your strengths. After all, these are scoring areas, and you don't want to waste them.

TPC Las Vegas: Be careful

Par 3s are usually great places to attack, and TPC Las Vegas' are no different -- but pin placement will be the key to how aggressive players can be.

The second hole, at 196 yards from the tips, and the 12th, at just 145 yards from the tips, are both island greens. Both are elevated above the desert below, so hitting the green is paramount to any success on these two holes. Here's the tough part: If flags are tucked near bunkers (to the right on the second hole and everywhere on the left side on the 12th), players need to play with caution.

Both of these holes are beauties to behold but can be treacherous to play. Playing it smart may not lead to birdies, but it's still better to be putting long-distance for a birdie rather than chipping to save par.

"This is definitely a course you've got to play a couple of times to get the feel of the best places to be aggressive," Hajduk said.

Take on the challenge

There you have it, a quick look at the best places to attack TPC Las Vegas and the spots players need to play with caution. After all, this is a golf course that many of the Las Vegas-based PGA Tour pros call home.

If this golf course is challenging enough that pros work on their games here when they aren't on Tour, it's definitely a place average players will love to take on.

Bill BowmanBill Bowman, Contributor

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has nearly 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 15-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas and has teed it up for magazine profiles with celebrities including comedian Bill Engvall, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA's Burn Notice), ESPN personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR's Kurt Busch, Collective Soul's Ed Roland, the Baltimore Ravens' Jonathan Ogden and many others.


 
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