A new 18-hole putting course designed by Nicklaus Design and featuring artificial turf from Southwest Greens is now open for play in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Created for the Major Series of Putting (MSOP), the new course sits adjacent to Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and close to the famous Las Vegas strip.
GCA caught up with some of the people involved with the course’s development to get their thoughts on how the new facility has turned out and is on offer.
“We are very pleased with how the course has turned out,” said Kevin Holinaty, president of Southwest Greens. “It was a challenge to make the breaks challenging and acceptable, but the feedback on the surfaces has been very positive and encouraging. But what has equally impressed me has been how the stadium has turned out. It’s really a first-class venue.”
Eric Thibaudeau from MSOP said that the course had exceeded all his expectations.
“The synthetic actually allows the surface to get to be much faster, which makes it amazing and challenging,” he said. “The layout is absolutely perfect! The back nine is very ‘birdieable’, so it makes for dramatic finishes, while the front nine is very tricky because there are two or three holes that you can make double bogey or worse if you’re not careful. In fact, we kind of dubbed holes three to six our ‘Amen Corner’ because they aren’t long holes, or even seemingly difficult holes, but they can derail your round very quickly if you’re careless. But they can be birdied, so you never know what can happen there and players can make up a lot of ground if they’re chasing the lead. This works out great since both nines have plenty of drama and action.”
The course’s design was drawn up by David Savic of Nicklaus Design, who explained what differences there are when designing a course of this nature in comparison to more traditional golf course design.
“The scale with which you are working is a bit tougher,” Savic said. “Typically, with the MSOP project, we would work with each putting hole as if it were an individual golf hole, not an individual putting green. For this project, I worked at a scale where one inch equals five feet. By comparison, a typical golf course putting green is designed at a scale of one inch equal to 30 feet. In addition, the breaks on each hole had to be separate and routed more like a golf course, including left-to-right and right-to-left breaks, while factoring in distance, severity of breaks, fall-offs, strategy of the routing and more. This took a bit of time to get used to, and it required additional time to think through the strategy.”
Savic also had to include enough room for players to line up a putt without interfering with players on the last hole.
“I had to allow them to visualise breaks with the thought of rough that might interfere; work with walls on the outer holes; visualise a routing of 18 separate holes and how the players would move through the space; visualise more division of space; and to think of each putt as a separate putt,” he explained. “I had to visualise the entire layout as two separate nine-hole spaces, as if it were a golf course complete with a practice putting green, a 19th hole, a 100-foot putting area, a skills game area with pedestrian walkways and viewing areas, and clubhouse space. The putting course was designed with many different possible functions in mind.”
Holinaty – who said Heritage Links completed the placement of the base materials and rough shaping before Southwest Greens took over to complete final shaping and turf installation – believes that players will appreciate the subtlety of the playing conditions on the course.
“There are some very challenging putts,” he said. “We have purposely created a fast and compact surface with a true ball roll, much like tour players experience on tour. The visitors will certainly be impressed with the authenticity of the facility – when you walk around you really get the feeling of being in a competitive stadium environment, from the jumbotron scoreboard to the lights at night. It provides a really fun and interesting experience.”
Savic said the defining feature of the golf course was taking the ideas the organisers of the MSOP presented, and ‘solving all of the compartmentalisation and complexity of the design to create a putting puzzle for the competition.’
“I drew inspiration from Oakmont’s Practice Putting Green, which is attached to the back of the ninth green, as well as the Ladies Putting Course at St Andrews,” he said. “I have fond memories of visiting both places and putting for quarters as a kid. I wanted the MSOP course to be a great social and competitive space that was as creative and as fun as putting for quarters in my youth. In this case, they are putting for a lot more than that! Developing something that was competitive and fun is the defining feature for me, and it’s something new for MSOP and the general golfing public to have into the future.”