Las Vegas, Nevada (1996, Bobby Weed, Raymond Floyd)
The buzzwords at TPC Las Vegas are “desert elegance” – a smart slogan considering that high-season, prime-time green fees hit $249. With a World Golf Hall of Famer’s signature on the design (Ray Floyd consulted with architect Bobby Weed), back tees topping out at more than 7,000 yards, and arroyos and barrancas peppering the yardage guide, one might expect penal elegance as well.
But, TPC Las Vegas was recommended to GottaGoGolf as a Women-Welcome course because its forward tees are under 5,000 yards and do not require many forced carries. The mountains beyond the perimeter homes provide a gorgeous backdrop – especially if you opt for the half-price twilight time and play near sunset – and the service is beyond Women-Welcome. If you’re going to splurge on golf, this is the place – and this is one Las Vegas memory that won’t stay in Vegas.
TPC Las Vegas starts out the way every course should, gently. The fairly straightforward par-4 first is only 269 yards from the forward tees. But you find out right away: Greens are firm and even short hitters may find themselves over the green in regulation, a nice change from the usual overly long layout, but, gosh, what do we have to do to hold a green? The answer: Aim to land short of the green, which is generally safe. Oh, but No. 2, a dramatic par-3 named “Canyon,” hints at the fun to come, with a carry over the desert to what seemed to us like a miniscule green.
Because of the altitude (above 2,000 feet) and firm conditions, the course plays a little shorter than listed, but for women, it’s a long step back from the 4,963-yard front tees to the “blended” red-white tees at 5,527 yards. Maybe the low handicappers will want to take that step, but, for the rest, what a treat to be able to reach greens in regulation and then challenge the firm, subtly breaking putting surfaces.
Not that it’s easy! The wind comes into play everywhere. But, no two holes look alike and it’s a good bet that you’ll remember them all after your second round here.
The counter was busy when we arrived, yet the two staffers on duty made eye contact with us. So we wandered around for a bit before checking in, and found a very stylish selection in the small shop as well as more superb service in the lovely, course-side 19th hole, which does not close until the last golfers have finished. Then we hit balls on the grass range, while the staff kept us apprised of our place on the tee without making us feel rushed. Our rental clubs ($55-$75) were top of the line, and I had a full set of the new Callaway Razrs that included two hybrids and three fairway woods. And, back to the service: The cart girl let us know when she was making her last round, where we’d find water, and where the very nice and well-located restrooms ahead were situated.