Shadow Creek – Played 2014
- Rankings: Golf Digest #29, Golf Digest Public #5, Golf Magazine #56, Golf Magazine Public #17
- Location: 3 Shadow Creek Drive, North Las Vegas, Nevada
- Year: 1990
- Architect: Tom Fazio
- Course Access: Public
- Walking Rules: Carts & Caddies Available
Score Card Information:
- Championship: 7,560 yards, Par 72, Not Listed
- Back: 7,102 yards, Par 72, Not Listed
- Regular: 6,626 yards, Par 72, Not Listed
Back in December I found myself in Las Vegas for a work conference. I thought to myself, how should I spend my free day before the conference? I decided that a round at Shadow Creek was the answer. The latest tee time I could get was 12:30 PM local time. That meant a 5:30 AM flight from the East Coast and no checked bags. Luckily, the flights ran on time and I actually teed off a little early.
Shadow Creek can be somewhat mysterious so let’s go over some of its history and atmosphere. Steve Wynn, casino magnate, built the course for a reported $60 million. It is said that three million cubic yards of dirt was moved and 21,000 trees (200 varieties) were added to the property. If that wasn’t enough, it underwent a $17 million dollar renovation in 2008 to add new tees, fairways, rough, bunkers, and greens.
After its opening it was one of the most exclusive courses in the world. Only invited guests of Mr. Wynn or the Mirage properties were allowed to play Shadow Creek with one hour gaps in the tee times. Thankfully, the course is now open to guests of MGM properties. This is how I got on. I set up my tee time through the hotel when I booked my room. Even though it is more open to play, the course rarely sees more than two dozen rounds in a day.
Before I could tee off I had to check in at the Aria. My room was wonderful with automatic opening blinds and smart lighting. It had a fabulous bathroom and I couldn’t have asked for anything more in a room. Check it out below.
After check in was finished it was off to the course. You can only get there one way from the hotel and it stylish. A stretch limousine takes you to and from the course and is the only way to get into the gate.
I had a great driver and we chatted football and other sports on the roughly twenty minute drive. After going through the gate, I was dropped off at the front door where I met a member of the pro shop staff and my caddy for the day, John.
After I settled up in the pro shop and got some food to rejuvenate me from the flight I decided to take some pictures around the clubhouse. The locker room is seen below. Unfortunately, it came out a little blurry. There were some pretty cool names on these lockers. I will save the surprises for when you make your trek.
Alright, let’s get to the course! I met John out at the cart with my rental clubs. John mentioned that the caddies usually drive the players in a cart. That was a little different for me, but when in Rome!
John mentioned to me that there are three types of players he sees at Shadow Creek. They are either excited, nervous, or relaxed. I thought this was a very true statement and could really be applied to playing all the Top 100 courses. Sometimes you will deal with a mix of all three, but I try and tell myself to have fun!
I played the regular tees as a single and all distances are from those markers.
Hole 1 – 344 yards – Par 4
The first hole favors a draw off the tee with a creek running up the left side. This was a little nerve-wracking with a rental club in my hand!
Hole 2 – 381 yards – Par 4
If you haven’t noticed, this course feels more like the Carolina sand hill region than Las Vegas. It goes to show how much work was actually done to make the finished product.
The second tee shot plays to an elevated fairway that bends to the right.
This is a long hole that demands a solid drive. Take aim and bust it at the middle bunker.
This can be a dangerous tee shot. From my tees, you could go through the fairway depending on your line. Anything to far left has to worry about the water. A draw that starts at the left edge of the right bunkers is the best line.
This is the first of the wonderful group of short holes. The tee shot plays over a ravine with trees. Make sure you get it there.
Whew, this is a tight one! Relax, I only wanted to show you what it looked like from the back tees.
The seventh plays a little uphill from the tee. A landing spot just left of the bunkers is a great area to go at the green.
Look at this hole! Situated down in a valley this provides a great vista. This is another deep bunker that needs to be avoided.
This place even has a phone with swagger. This one is used to call in food orders.
Here is a little zoomed-in picture of the approach shot.
This tee shot plays to a blind landing area. The hole moves to the right.
This is a cool risk/reward hole. The layup is very easy, but driving gets a little tight. You definitely want to get it there because anything just short of the green makes for a tough second shot.
We have a shorter hole here. Nothing to it really, just hit something straight out there.
Danger abounds on this shot. The hazard is all around the right side and it is a long shot.
This hole requires a large drive left of the bunker.
I liked the mix of holes so far in the round. Tee shots need to played both ways to have the best angle, but none force you to hit one type of shot.
This hole has the hazard up the left side and plenty of fairway at which to aim.
This hole sets you up for a good finale. It plays to a perched fairway that favors a fade.
This is probably the best view on the golf course. This is a do or die shot. Anything five yards short is in the water. Luckily, it plays downhill and should only require a short iron.
John told me a couple cool stories about the 17th hole. Apparently after some dolphins from one of Mr. Wynn’s casinos died they were buried under the big hill where the tees are located. He was so fond of the animals that he wanted to keep them close to the home he had on the course.
Another story was of a match that was being played for $1000 per stroke. One of the players was up by four shots when he came to the 17th tee. He chunked his first shot into the water. He then got in his own head and kept hitting shots heavy. He finally tapped in for a 15. That was a costly hole!
Hole 18 – 503 yards – Par 5
The last hole is a great finisher. With water in play eagle or double bogey is in play. An aggressive line is going over the middle of the right cluster of bunkers.
This was an incredible experience. I got to ride in the limo, played only with John, and basically had the course to myself. We played in a little over three hours. Due to some hiccups with the limo on the way back I had time to have a Transfusion in the grill. After that I hung out in the locker room with some employees watching NCAA hoops. We had some great banter just chilling in the locker room. It was a fantastic day and a great start to my conference.
A little advice if you are playing in the winter, it got dark really early. It was about 4:45 or 5 when it was pitch black. Other than that, I had a great time. I was treated very well and the complex was very low-key. If you have a chance to play Shadow Creek, do it.