TPC Las Vegas Is Where PGA Tour Champions Are Decided, Groomed

Categories: Las Vegas Golf History.

Image February 16, 2009–TPC Las Vegas is where the pros play–and have played–in Las Vegas. These days, a who's who of Las Vegas golfers who play on the LPGA Tour, PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour, play and practice at this Las Vegas golf course. But what also makes TPC Las Vegas is the list of the world's best golfers who have claimed championships on the course. That Las Vegas golf champions' list includes Hale Irwin (twice), Larry Nelson, Bruce Fleischer, Bill Glasson, Jim Furyk (twice) and many others.

TPC Las Vegas, a Las Vegas golf course that is owned by the PGA Tour and is a part of the prestigious Tournament Players Club network, opened in 1996 and over the years has hosted the Las Vegas Senior Classic on the Champions Tour and up intil 2007 hosted rounds of the PGA Tour's Las Vegas tournament, now called the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. TPC Las Vegas was designed by PGA Tour Design Services, with Bobby Weed serving as the lead course architect while World Golf Hall-of-Famer Raymond Floyd was the PGA Tour player consultant.

"As far as aesthetics and playability, I would put TPC Las Vegas up against any golf course you care to mention," Floyd has said about a course he considers among his best works. "It's as unique as they come and I'm very proud of the way it has turned out, especially given the challenges of designing a golf course on such a challenging piece of property. But I think a golf course is kind of like a fine wine. The best come from the toughest pieces of ground."

Some of the current LPGA Tour and PGA Tour players who play and practice at TPC Las Vegas include PGA Tour champions Dean Wilson and Charley Hoffman, in addition to other PGA Tour players Alex Cejka, Bill Lunde, and Bob May, and LPGA Tour players Erica Blasberg and Kim Hall. Cejka has told this writer that the group of Las Vegas pros love to get together a put a little something on the line to keep things interesting during the off-season or mid-season practice sessions. "There’s a few of us that will gamble a little bit, and it’s always fun when you can take fifty bucks off your buddies,” Cejka says about a group that includes the aforementioned Wilson, May, Hoffman and others. “Sometimes it’s your day, and sometimes it’s not your day, but we always enjoy the competition.”

TPC Las Vegas Head Golf Professional Todd Hajduk says that there is a great sense of pride and honor for the staff to have many pros call TPC Las Vegas home. And they ensure that all of the Las Vegas pro golfers are given the best when they are on the property. "The facility is at their disposal, and that also falls in line with when many of the players were playing at UNLV," says Hajduk. "It's been very interesting to watch these guys grow from college to the pros, and to see how well they are doing now. Charley (Hoffman) has already made more money this year than he did last year, and that is mind blowing to me. And Bill (Lunde) was … making everyday money a few years ago but recently cashed a check for about $200,000. It's just awesome to see. And all of the players, not just those from UNLV, want a place they can call home and we provide that." Hajduk also says that the PGA Tour recently invested in a new practice tee, chipping area, and putting green that is exclusively for the pro players. The area is on the back end of the range and allows the pros to "do their job" without distraction.

Hale Irwin won the 1997 Las Vegas Senior Classic, the first Champions Tour event to be played at TPC Las Vegas, which was then known as TPC at The Canyons. He followed that up with another win at the TPC Las Vegas in 1998. The other champions of the Las Vegas Senior Classic events that were played at TPC Las Vegas were Vicente Fernandez (1999), Larry Nelson (2000), and Bruce Fleisher (2001). The 2001 event was the final Las Vegas Senior Classic to be played. Before moving to the TPC Las Vegasm the event was played as the old Desert Inn Golf Club (now the renovated Wynn Las Vegas) and at TPC Summerlin. Other champions of the Las Vegas Senior Classic were: 1996 Jim Colbert; 1995 Jim Colbert; 1994 Raymond Floyd; 1993 Gibby Gilbert; 1992 Lee Trevino; 1991 Chi Chi Rodriguez; 1990 Chi Chi Rodriguez; 1989 Charles Coody; 1988 Larry Mowry; 1987 Al Geiberger; and 1986 Bruce Crampton.

The TPC Las Vegas was a host course for the PGA Tour from 1997-2007, before the event moved solely to TPC Summerlin in 2008 when Justin Timberlake moved in as host of the tournament. Certain PGA Tour-sanctioned events still take place at TPC Las Vegas during PGA Tour week in Las Vegas. The champions of Las Vegas' PGA Tour event with rounds held at TPC Las Vegas were: 1997 Bill Glasson; 1998 and 1999 Jim Furyk; 2000 Billy Andrade; 2001 Bob Estes; 2002 Phil Tautaranghi; 2003 Stuart Appleby; 2004 Andre Stolz; 2005 Wes Short, Jr.; 2006 Tory Matteson; 2007 George McNeil; and 2008 Marc Turnesa.