Review for Shadow Creek

Reviewer Score:


I know that feeling of anticipation well. In 1989, Shadow Creek debuted at No.8, the highest debut in the history of the Top 100. The course was dreamed up by casino guru Steve Wynn and designed by Tom Fazio. If Shadow Creek doesn’t prove Tom Fazio’s design genius, I don’t know what does…

Unfortunately, we had a cloudy day at Shadow Creek, so the shadows that are a large part of the design were not in play. Larry, Jeff and I were picked up by the limo at 10 a.m. Yeah baby! All three of us were greeted by name as we stepped out of the limo at Shadow Creek. We entered the elegant clubhouse, were assigned lockers labeled with celebrity names, and we were off to the practice area. The practice area should not be confused with a driving range. It is divided by stands of trees into areas that hold four people each, so your group can practice in privacy. (God forbid that Michael Jordan should look over and see us.) Everyone hits to the same set of targets. What a concept. We had an 11.30 tee time but were told we could go whenever we were ready. There was one foursome out on the course, and a pair of twosomes scheduled to play around lunchtime. We checked the scorecard to determine which tees we were going to play. There were only two choices: 7,239 yards and 6,701 yards (women have it tough here). It was an easy choice for us, and we were off on our adventure…

Let me describe for you three of Shadow Creek’s par 3s. Number 5 was the first par 3 we encountered: 170 yards across a pine-tree-filled abyss. In fact the hole is called “The Abyss.” As they dug the Abyss, Steve Wynn kept saying “deeper, deeper” until they were 66 feet deep, with a tee box on one side and the green on the other. The Abyss is filled with mature pine trees. As I stood on the tee box, I could see the green on the opposite hillside surrounded by pine trees – not exactly a typical desert setting.

Number 8 looks like it belongs at Augusta National. Steve Wynn calls it “Shangri-La,” inspired by the secret hideaway in the book Lost Horizon. Completely isolated from the rest of the course, the garden hole is 150 yards and filled with thousands of exotic flowers. You enter and leave it via entrance and exit tunnels. The experience is like walking into a painting. Shangri-La was one of the many surprises along the way.

Number 17 would be a signature hole on any golf course, but at Shadow Creek it is one of many signature holes. The 130-yard par-3 hole plays from a ridge 30 feet above the very small putting surface. It is framed at the back by a massive waterfall cascading into a creek that drains into a lake in front of the green. Just close your eyes and imagine that for a moment. This particular creek was called Michael’s Creek, named for Steve Wynn’s father, and had a plaque to identify it. One of the first actions of the new owners was to remove the plaque and change the name of the creek. (It must have been a very friendly sale. Not!)…

Shadow Creek is a wonderland. I know $500 is a lot of money, but not in Vegas economics, where people lose more than that in the casino in minutes. It was well worth the cost. Larry Berle.

Date: December 01, 2014

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