Shadow Creek - Las Vegas, NV

Designed in 1989 to accommodate the highest of high rollers in Las Vegas, Steve Wynn gave Tom Fazio $41 million (additional $17 million 2008 renovation) to forge Shadow Creek out of a flat piece of Las Vegas desert.  After digging up 3 million cubic yards, construction crews brought in approximately 21,000 trees in 200 different species to make Shadow Creek look nothing like Las Vegas.  They succeeded.  Consistently ranked among the top 10 public courses in America, Shadow Creek is a true golf gem.

Normally, I would just jump into details about the course but this write up starts the moment you step out of the MGM in Las Vegas.  A limousine will pick you up from your hotel and escort you the 30 minutes to the course property.  Behind a discreet gate, your limo will disappear down a long road that will remind you more of North Carolina than Nevada.  Once you arrive at the clubhouse, a welcoming party will great you like you are Michael Jordan.  Next up will be the only bad part of your day, paying the $500 greens fee.  

Caddies are also required on the course and Matt was to be my caddy for this experience.  I quickly learned that he was a true student and expert of the game.  In addition to some sound advice, Matt actually picked up all of my divots and placed them in a bag to ensure that no other golfer would have to endure the sight of a discarded divot.  Shadow Creek places a premium on maintenance and spends approximately $15 million a year to make sure the course is in perfect shape year round.  

Mr Fazio has designed the course to crescendo with a naturally occurring climax every couple of holes and then end with a strong finish.  In my opinion, just about every hole at Shadow Creek is a climax.  Some of my favorites are as follows.  

  • The fourth hole is probably the best par 5 on the course and is easily the most photogenic.  #4 is a good 3 shot hole that requires concentration on each shot.  
  • The front nine finishes strong with a medium length par 4.  The actual Shadow Creek runs down the left hand side of #9 and makes for a great approach. 
  • The thirteenth hole is an outstanding par 3 that measures 257 yards from the back tees.  There is an impressive rock wall that holds up the green with a pond below.  A great long iron is required for success here.
  • Hole #15 is an epic 482 yard par 4 with a creek running down the left hand side that crosses in front of the green.  There is some bailout room to the right on the drive, but a great second shot is required.  
  • On a course full of signature holes, hole #17 somehow manages to stand out, this is your standard island like green with a waterfall behind it.  
  • In typical Vegas fashion, #18 ends with a gamble.  The reach-able par 5 is guarded with water in front and presents the golfer with one last chance at birdie.  In typical Vegas fashion, I gambled and lost.

In summation, Shadow Creek is a fantastic blend of golf will, imagination, and extreme sums of $$.  Tom Fazio and Steve Wynn have truly created one of the most impressive golf experiences in North America.