Shadow Creek

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.

SHAD ROOMAfter 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.

SHAD LIMOHere is an inside view of the cozy ride.

SHAD LIMO2I 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.

SCC Locker RoomThe photo below was blurry too, but it features Bill Clinton and both Bushes.  They get some high profile guests here!

SCC PRESThere are two sets of course records.  The original design record of 60 is shared by Tiger Woods and Fred Couples.  You can check out their scores below.

SCC Course RecBelow is the post-renovation course record 66, shared by Dustin Johnson and Chien-Soon Lu.

SCC Course Rec 2Alright, 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!

SCC 1-1The creek continues up to the green with a bunker on the right side.

SCC 1-2The green has a little bit of undulation, but no worries since John was there.

SCC 1-3John mentioned that the club paints the mulch brown a couple times a year!  Only in Vegas.

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.

SCC 2-1The approach plays over a spectacular bunker to a green flanked by some trees.

SCC 2-2Here is a side shot of the green.

SCC 2-3Hole 3 – 449 yards – Par 4

This is a long hole that demands a solid drive.  Take aim and bust it at the middle bunker.

SCC 3-1The second shot moves uphill to an undulating green with a false front on the left.

SCC 3-2Hole 4 – 512 yards – Par 5

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.

SCC 4-1You can’t zone out on your layup.  The fairway tightens and a good line is imperative.  If you do go for the green there is a little bailout area to the right.

SCC 4-2This shot from the back of the green shows the ridge in the green and a surrounding bunker.

SCC 4-3Hole 5 – 140 yards – Par 3

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.

SCC 5-1Here is a closer photo of the green.

SCC 5-2Hole 6 – 442 yards – Par 4

Whew, this is a tight one!  Relax, I only wanted to show you what it looked like from the back tees.

SCC 6-1This is the green and looking back up the hole.  There is some slope to this green that you can see in the right side of the photo.

SCC 6-2Hole 7 – 490 yards – Par 5

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.

SCC 7-1You have a copious amount of bunkers to deal with here.  If you are going for it in two the shot needs to carry all the way there.

SCC 7-2The bunkers around the green are deep.  Stay away from them.

SCC 7-3The putting surface features some slope on the back side (right of this photo).

SCC 7-4Hole 8 – 162 yards – Par 3

Look at this hole!  Situated down in a valley this provides a great vista.  This is another deep bunker that needs to be avoided.

SCC 8-1Below is a more zoomed-in look.

SCC 8-2Here is the green from the left side.

SCC 8-3I also wanted to show the view looking back at the tee from the green.

SCC 8-4Hole 9 – 391 yards – Par 4

This place even has a phone with swagger.  This one is used to call in food orders.

SCC 9-1This is a picturesque hole.  The hazard is not really in play unless you top one or hit it way left.

SCC 9-2All the trouble is left on this shot.  Any shots at the flag must carry the bunker.

SCC 9-3The stream you see here and all the others have the water pumped through them.  Makes sense being in the desert.

Here is a little zoomed-in picture of the approach shot.

SCC 9-4The green has a couple of tiers and slope as you can see in the photo below.

SCC 9-5These are some of the birds that have been added to the course.  They are not native and stay because they get fed.

SCC 9-6Hole 10 – 394 yards – Par 4

This tee shot plays to a blind landing area.  The hole moves to the right.

SCC 10-1Here is the approach shot.  This is a dangerous pin tucked behind the bunker and near the large tree.

SCC 10-2The green is fairly large once you get up to it.

SCC 10-3Here is a view from behind.

SCC 10-4Hole 11 – 284 yards – Par 4

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.

SCC 11-1You can see in this shot that the fairway is very undulating.

SCC 11-2This is the second shot I was referring to earlier.  It just makes sense to layup further back if you’re not going for it.

SCC 11-3That being said, the green is pretty small.  The flag here is in the biggest section of the putting surface.

SCC 11-4Here is a look back up the hole.

SCC 11-5Hole 12 – 355 yards – Par 4

We have a shorter hole here.  Nothing to it really, just hit something straight out there.

SCC 12-1The approach plays uphill with multiple bunkers on the right.

SCC 12-2You can see there are some runoff areas near the green.

SCC 12-3Hole 13 – 203 yards – Par 3

Danger abounds on this shot.  The hazard is all around the right side and it is a long shot.

SCC 13-1A little closer look can be seen below.  The middle of the green is a good play.

SCC 13-2Hole 14 – 442 yards – Par 4

This hole requires a large drive left of the bunker.

SCC 14-1The second shot provides a cool view.  It plays downhill and is guarded by the trees on the left and the hazard on the right.

SCC 14-2The green is pretty flat compared to some of the others on the course.

SCC 14-3Hole 15 – 433 yards – Par 4

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.

SCC 15-1The creek plays more of a role in the approach shot.  You can bailout short and left, but anything short otherwise will probably be wet.

SCC 15-2The level of detail and conditioning at this place is incredible.  Even the bridge is grassed.  The green has a little bit of slope that can be seen below.

SCC 15-3Hole 16 – 561 yards – Par 5

This hole sets you up for a good finale.  It plays to a perched fairway that favors a fade.

SCC 16-1The second shot plays up the hill and must maneuver around the bunkers and rough.  A high draw will work really well here.

SCC 16-2There is a big false front in front of where the flag is located.  Up and downs from the bunkers will be difficult.  Getting your shot pin high is the first priority.

SCC 16-3Here is a view from behind the green

SCC 16-4Hole 17 – 140 yards – Par 3

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.

SCC 17-1I figured a zoomed-in version would give you a better view of just how precise you need to be on this hole.

SCC 17-2The green is very shallow as you can see.  Distance control is imperative since you don’t want to be hitting from a bunker back at the water.

SCC 17-3I tempted fate and landed in the front bunker.  This is what I had to negotiate.

SCC 17-4What would the round be without taking a picture in front of the man-made waterfalls.

SCC 17-5John 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.

SCC 18-1Going for it requires a carry all the way to the green.  Laying up is straightforward and requires a middle iron up the fairway.

SCC 18-2Here is a zoomed-in shot of the green.

SCC 18-3Another shot of the not so local wildlife.

SCC 18-4The green is large with three distinct tiers.  Getting on the right one is key for an easy birdie or eagle putt.

SCC 18-5This 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.

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3 thoughts on “Shadow Creek

  1. Pingback: Mid Year Newsletter | Tiger Golf Traveler

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