The Takeaway: Shadow Creek represents one of the finest modern golfing experiences in the country and the most impressive, completely manufactured course I've ever come across. At $500 a round the natural question is going to be whether it is worth $5 - $6 per stroke to tee it up at this modern day marvel. Of all of the ways to blow $500 in Sin City, this is one you are almost guaranteed not to regret. If you are staying at a MGM property, break out your Visa card and schedule a tee time at one of the most memorable golf courses you will ever step foot on. Grade A+
Designer: Tom Fazio in 1989
Phone Number: (702) 399-7111
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Shadow Creek Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Accolades: Ranked 31st on Golf Digest’s 2013-14 Greatest Golf Courses in America rankings (Ranked 6th on Greatest Public Courses list) and 1st in the state of Nevada.
What to Expect: Shadow Creek might be as close to an Augusta experience that the general public may ever be able to enjoy. It starts with the limo ride from an MGM owned hotel and builds with anticipation with the long, majestic drive from the course entrance to the clubhouse that simulates Magnolia Lane. When you arrive at the clubhouse, the Head Professional greets your party and escorts you to the locker room where names like George Bush and Sylvester Stallone adorn the lockers. Tiger Woods' course record scorecard is found in the locker room and inspires you to bring your best for the day. Conditioning is impeccable in every sense of the word. During my round there was a lone twig laying in the rough that had broken off a nearby tree. As we strolled down the fairway, Mr. Brenneman radioed into the maintenance staff with urgency that the mischievous branch be cleared from the grounds immediately. I can’t even get my home course to provide sand and seed containers on the carts and par 3s let alone worry about clearing twigs! While at Shadow Creek, the city of Las Vegas is totally out of mind. The course features hundreds of species of trees and is built up around the perimeter so that the beautiful foliage and wildlife are the only things you see other than the mountain range in the far distance. The interior of the course boasts several water features and an isolated experience of every hole. This lush manmade environment quickly makes you forget about the desert and takes you on an adventure through a stunning fantasy golf course come to life!
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 17th Hole – 154 Yard Par 3 – The most attractive hole in the Vegas desert bar none! When you are the signature hole at a course full of signature holes, you know how special this one-shotter must be. A virtual island green, the backdrop is an impressive waterfall that tumbles down the rocks and into a pond that front the putting surface. A variety of trees and vegetation help create this oasis environment in the middle of the desert, a sight to behold for sure.
Best Par 3: 13th Hole – 257 Yards – The most challenging par three at Shadow Creek is this thrilling uphill hole framed by trees in an isolated setting. The raised green features a rock retaining wall on the right side that holds the putting surface above the pond below. A tongue sticks out of the front of the green allowing players to bounce their approach onto the putting surface rather than attacking the flag with an aerial shot. The 13th might be the most underrated hole on the course since the all-world 17th gets so much attention.
Best Par 4: 15th Hole – 482 Yards – This strong par four is framed on the left by the course's namesake, Shadow Creek. The creek winds to the north the length of the fairway before cutting in front of the green and becoming a hazard that all golfers must contend with. The quadrant green delivers a challenge to golfer's short game and is the icing on the cake for this formidable hole.
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 529 Yards – Certainly reachable in two, the final hole at Shadow Creek embodies everything Las Vegas was built on; risk and reward. A series of three lakes line the entire right side of the hole and are connected by a trio of waterfalls. The left side of the fairway sits higher than the right and is the desired line to take the water out of play and setup a favorable approach angle to the green. Players must decide when to cross the water, either on the second shot in a daring effort to setup an eagle putt on the third shot with a flip wedge to a narrow green in a beautiful setting featuring flower, trees, and water. It is a beautiful hole and a fitting finish to a stunning course.
Birdie Time: 11th Hole – 324 Yard Par 4 – At a mere 324 yards, Fazio gives players a chance early in the back nine to card a birdie and build some momentum. With no fairway bunkers to contend with, players are afforded an easy layup off the tee or the chance to take a rip at the green. The green boomerangs around the only bunker on the hole and if the pin is on the right side of the putting surface then the hole is ripe for the taking.
Bogey Beware: 3rd Hole – 486 Yard Par 4 – A late dogleg to the right, this long par four features a water hazard up the left side and sparse trees up the right rough. Beyond 300 yards from the tee the fairway comes to an end as it collides into a bunker and tree with the short grass picking up again beyond the sand. A tree protects the front left of the green that lies at a 45 degree angle from front left to back right thus ideally calling for a fade. With killer length and plenty of trouble to contend with, Shadow Creek's 3rd hole will prove elusive to pars.