When Ally Ewing earned the 2021 Bank of Hope Match Play title at Shadow Creek, it was the beginning of a “luxurious” VIP experience unlike any other on the LPGA Tour.–By Brian Hurlburt, Founder, LasVegasGolfInsider.com
But when it comes to what is now an annual stop on the LPGA Tour schedule, the Bank of Hope Match Play presented by MGM Rewards doesn’t just offer the champion the Vegas VIP treatment. Each golfer in the field was–and is–wined and dined throughout the week, but the ultimate experience goes to the player who survives the grueling match play format. Ewing defeated Sophia Popov 2 and 1 in the 2021 final and then the fun truly began. The 2022 event is May 23-29.
“Luxurious is the best word to use for what the first thing that comes to my mind wen I think about last year,” said Ewing during a media availability ahead of the 2022 event. “From the moment that I finished all of the interviews and everything, it was (luxurious). We hopped in a rolls Royce that took us to the Strip and then I got to select the song for the Bellagio fountain show. We hopped on a boat for the show and it was my husband (Charlie) and I’s one year anniversary, so I tried to pick like a little bit of a romantic song. Then once we finished with that, mCharlie, myself and my caddy, Dan, went to Prime steakhouse and had an unbelievable dinner. I still have all the pictures from dinner and they also brought out just this massive cake. It just goes to show you the luxurious part of all of it. From the time that we got there, the treatment that was given to the entire field, and then the Champion’s gift that there was thrown on top of all of that, it was a world class experience.”
For decades, Shadow Creek was reserved mostly for Vegas high-rollers and 99 percent of the golf world wasn’t privy to get a view behind the gates of the Tom Fazio course that is owned and operated by MGM Resorts International. But then came the televised and much-hyped “The Match” between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in 2018. The world saw the beauty of the place and Tour players began to understand the intrigue.
Then, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 CJ Cup on the PGA Tour was played at Shadow Creek and shortly thereafter the Bank of Hope was played. To say Tour players were effusive in their praise of the course and experience would be an understatement.
“I think we are always excited to showcase that facility because we’ve always known how special it is here and our best customers have gotten a chance to experience it over the years, but it’s been a bit of a secret,” said Lance Evans, MGM Resorts International, Senior Vice President of Sports. “Shadow Creek was that hidden gem in the desert that not everybody could play, but between the Bank of Hope Match Play, the Match with tiger versus Phil, and the one year we did with the CJ cup, it put the golf course in a new light. People had an opportunity to see it and in some cases experience it for the first time. We keep it in tremendous condition year round, and Greg (Niendorf, superintendent) and Monte (Montgomery (general manader), the gentlemen who run the facility, are incredible at what they do. For us to be able to showcase the facility and showcase the work that they put into it to make it such a special place is very meaningful.”
The Bank of Hope Match Play is also just another in a long line of world class events making headlines in Vegas. With the fairly recent openings of Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas is now firmly entrenched as the sports and entertainment capital of the world. MGM is at the forefront of many of the events.
“Las Vegas has just been the epicenter of sports for the last couple years,” Evans said. “We just hosted the NFL Draft. We just announced Formula One racing for November of 2023 and the Super Bowl is here in February of 2024. We will host the NCAA men’s regional basketball championships next year. Las Vegas has truly become a sports capital, and obviously the LPGA Tour and the Bank of Hope Match Play Championship is an important part of that. We’re incredibly excited to be here and we’re excited to host.”
Photos – LPGA Tour Bank of Hope Match Play Getty Images, MGM Resorts International