TPC Las Vegas (Part II)

October 6, 2010

Please bear with us while we experiment with the layout and exactly how to format our posts.

Another one of our goals is to juxtapose not only our personal views of the various items we post about, but also our views in light of our handicaps.  As the resident hack (a rather bloated 10.7 to JK’s 0.3 (?) ), my opinion will clearly resonate more with the masses.

As mentioned before, this was not our first crack at TPC Las Vegas.  I recall two shots in particular from the first trip with particular fondness.  Winds reached nearly 35 mph — seriously, we quit after 7 holes because of it.  The first was my approach (likely 4th or 5 shot not counting penalties) into par-five 6th.  With a stout cross wind, I cut a 5-iron about 135 yards into the green to about 7 feet.  Even JK was impressed.  The second was the tee shot on the par-three 7th.  Playing directly into the now 40 mph wind, JK and I both drew driver (209 for him, 195 for me).  After watching two towering draws become two hooks because of the wind, I drew back and nailed what is certainly one of the best drives I have ever hit in my life.  Not even a hair off-line, that bridgestone took off straight as a string and cut through the wind.  It is somewhat fitting that it would only go 193 yards (that’s golf, right?).  It was one of those shots that took felt so good that I could only smile after a ridiculous 4-putt.

Anyway, back to the post-bar round.

First, things I like to know about a course in a review:

From the tees that I played (Tips): 7080 yds – 73.4/136 – Par 71
Green size: average to small
length of par 3’s – 196, 209, 145, 202
Shortest par 4 and 5 – 349 and 544
Number of par 3’s/4’s/5’s –  4/11/3

Second, snapshot of the course:

Style/Architect:  Desert course/Bobby Weed & Raymond Floyd
prettiest hole: 18 –  Water left makes this a bear too!
most difficult hole: 8 – Long and plays into the prevailing wind.  This hole calls for a draw off the tee and a very strong second shot uphill into a two-tier green.  Be sure to avoid a deep bunker short and one to the left.  Going long is not an option as you’ll be using that desert club that JK mentioned.
best hole to gamble on: 2 – while it cards in at a stout 196, the true beauty of this downhill par three is that it can play 20 yards above or below that number depending on the wind.  Trust your club selection and don’t go left.

While I will normally strive to write the narrative of my review from the perspective of a 10-handicapper who works on his game more than he should given his profession, I must confess that shooting a good score was unequivocally the last thing on my mind while playing this round.  Having just finished the bar exam and beginning the summer of true freedom that I would have for the foreseeable future, I was dead set on having a good time and enjoying the amazing weather.  That attitude notwithstanding,  I played several of the holes remarkably well.  I’m happy to report that even from the tips, I managed to play the par 3’s at even par.  I may have had to venture into the desert on a number of the par 4s and the par-five 4th (a few times), but am happy to report that I finished the round in high spirits and with an even higher score of 89.

Part of the charm of this course was that it generally followed the natural lay of the land.  A particular feature to note was the large gorge that divided the 14th and 15th holes.  For a 10 handicapper, this course presents not only a challenge off the tee (many forced carries and blind tee shots), but also a strong test for your short game.  For those aiming to play for score, my personal recommendation for the 10-handicapper who’s Achilles heel is the driver is to play either the blue tees (6769 – 71.0/128) or the men’s blended (68.7/128) and stick to the trusty 3-wood.  For those who’s chipping and putting leads to inflated scores, spending a little time on the putting green to get used to the crazy speed on these greens is must.  You’re in luck, you get full use of the amazing practice facilities all day when you purchase your tee time.  Also, for even the 10-handicapper with an above average short-game, the bunkers on this course tend to be more punitive than most.  Avoid at all costs.  One more bit of local knowledge:  play in the morning.  The wind kicks up in the afternoon.

Other tidbits:

Pro shop: top of the line – as you would expect from a PGA Tour owned facility
Distance from attractions – about 20 minutes away from the middle of Las Vegas Blvd
Deals/Specials:  JK and I managed to get tee times for $199 including a pair of Adidas golf shoes (then valued at $85).  We even called ahead and got to order the exact colors and size (issue for those of us wearing 14 or larger) we wanted.
Make sure you grab a yardage book for this course from the pro shop.  Not only is it immensely useful on the par 5’s and the dog-leg par 4’s, it’s a nice keepsake to remember your round. You can also you use it to write well-informed blog entries (or comments to ours!).

18th Tee.  JK on the left, LG on the right.

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