It was a day to remember at Rio Secco Golf Club in Las Vegas when six of the world’s top golfers hit from a floating tee to the par 3, 16th green for a chance to win a million dollars for charity, but also to earn guaranteed $$$ for a charity on behalf of whomever was closest to the pin. Taking part were Team Troon members Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar, Matt Fitzpatrick, Alex Noren and Cheyenne Woods.
As Thomas was riding in his golf cart en route to the shot, he crested a hill and had his first look at the situation and the floating tee.
“What in the hell? I have to go out there? I did not see this coming,” Thomas said as he nervously laughed, envisioning his trek in a rickety boat to the floating tee box.
Woodland said, “If I make it, I’m jumping in.”
Alas, a soaked Woodland wasn’t meant to be.
Troon CEO Tim Schantz was there to greet each player and witnessed the action.
“The professionals we used to put this event together–the Breaking Par (TV) guys–really set the bar for us in terms of trying to show the industry that our business can be a little different than people think it’s going to be and this was a great example of that,” Schantz said.
You can check the video out, but a spoiler alert is that nobody knocked in the 145-yard shot, but Thomas earned $10,000 for St. Jude’s Ranch For Children, a Boulder City charity located a few miles from Rio Secco and also just down the road from Cascata, the sister course to Rio Secco. Both are designed by legendary architect Rees Jones. Thomas hit his Troon Challenge shot to 4 feet, 3 inches for the victory.
During the challenge, each golfer’s first shot was part of the Million Dollar Challenge, with $1 million split between a local Las Vegas charity and a national charity if a golfer made an ace. Meanwhile all four shots counted in the Closest-to-the-Pin Challenge. Prior to the Challenge each golfer chose benefitting charities, with Troon donating $1 million for a hole-in-one or $10,000 for the closest-to-the-pin to a charity or charities in the winner’s name. Troon is donating $10,000 to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, a Boulder City, Nev. based charity, in Thomas’ name. In addition, Troon donated $1,000 to each golfers selected national charity including: the Bill Dickey Scholarship Association (Cheyenne Woods); Camp Twin Lakes (Matt Kuchar); Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity (Matt Fitzpatrick); Mia’s Miracle, Villegas Foundation (Alex Noren); Folds of Honor (Gary Woodland); and the Justin Thomas Foundation (Justin Thomas).
As for Vegas as a golf destination, Kuchar summed it up nicely.
“Vegas has a lot to offer,” Kuchar said. “Away from the Strip it has some very nice golf courses and then all the fun you want to have on the Strip as well … just the drive out here to Rio Secco I was blown away by the beauty.”
The last word went to Jeff Krohn, VP, Vici Golf Properties, which operates Rio Secco and Cascata.
“What makes Vegas a great golf destination and Rio Secco a better part of that destination is that it’s Las Vegas,” Krohn said. “You have your daytime entertainment and your night time entertainment. You’re up all night gambling on the Las Vegas Strip and then you come out here and play golf and it’s a whole different experience.”