Inside Shadow Creek: 8 things I noticed visiting the ultra-exclusive Vegas course for the first time

Andrew Tursky

LAS VEGAS — Shadow Creek Golf Course is one of those places that golfers want to experience simply because of its exclusivity. We’ve heard that it’s a golfing playground for presidents, famous athletes, musicians and high-rollers, so we yearn to know what the hype is all about.

Shadow Creek Golf Course really hit my radar ahead of the Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson match in 2018, but it’s been around for three decades. The course was built in 1990 with Steve Wynn’s vision and Tom Fazio’s architectural design, and tee times run around $600 for the public (you also must stay at an MGM property).

The only way to get onto the North Las Vegas property as a player, typically, is by way of an MGM Resorts International courtesy limo. Luckily for me, as a member of the media at this week’s CJ Cup, I was able to roll through the gates in my rental car with a parking pass.

I entered the well-guarded Shadow Creek gates for the first time with a camera around my neck, eager to check out the scene. Below are 8 things that caught my eye about the course and the property itself.

Enjoy the tour!

1. From the outside looking in

Located on the side of a nondescript, multi-lane road in North Las Vegas sits the entrance to Shadow Creek. The surrounding area, filled with barren desert land, strip malls and fast food joints, doesn’t tip its hand that a super high-end golf course is nearby. The gated entrance, however, certainly scares away anyone with bright ideas to sneak onto the property.

2. Augusta vibes

Inside the gates is a long, winding road that culminates in what reminds me of Magnolia Lane. No, I’ve never driven up Magnolia Lane myself, but I’ve seen a few pictures.

The Shadow Creek clubhouse even has that classic white-and-green Augusta National clubhouse look, too.

3. No rock out of place

Outside the gates of Shadow Creek is the Mojave Desert, but inside the gates is a plush manmade oasis. The landscaping all around the property is pristine, and it makes for a wholly serene experience.

Deep green grass, evergreen trees, stone bridges, perfectly placed rocks and babbling creeks — Shadow Creek has curated a stunning golfing environment.

4. An idyllic range

If you dreamed up a golf range, this (with all due respect to the spread at Augusta National) is about what it would look like, right?

As a high roller or celebrity on a normal day at Shadow Creek, surely you’d have the range essentially to yourself. When PGA Tour players come to town, though, it’s a bit livelier.

5. The short-game area

I’ve been to a lot of courses in my day, but this is one of the best short-game areas I’ve seen. Deep rough, light rough, sand, wood chips. It’s the ideal spot to spend all day hitting shots from all different kinds of lies.

6. Welcome to fabulous… London?

On the Las Vegas strip, you can get a taste of Paris, Italy or New York City. When you play Shadow Creek, you get a taste of London. Located near the 9th and 17th greens are old-school, in-service telephone booths where players can call the clubhouse restaurant and place a food order.

Speaking of food, here’s the menu, which has surprisingly reasonable prices, including a hot dog for under 10 bucks!

7. Wooded walkways

As I mentioned before, the landscaping on the property is a marvel. That includes these awesome log-bordered walkways that lead to each of the tee boxes. It’s a nice, and no doubt expensive, touch. If the greens are running around a 14 on the stimpmeter this week, then the tee boxes have to be at least a 10. Look how crisp they are!

8. The course? Yep, that’s stunning, too

Here’s what you really all came to see: the golf course. I’m not a professional course photographer — I leave that to my colleague Christian Hafer — but here are a few highlights (in my opinion) from my vantage point outside the ropes. From my experience in walking the course, each of the holes is secluded from the others, taking the private experience up that extra notch.

A look from just right of the 1st tee.
The 2nd green shows how treacherous the slopes around the greens can be.
Looking back from behind the 4th green.
This isn’t the tee box the PGA Tour players will use this week; their tee is a bit farther back. But here’s a look at the tee shot on the par-3 5th hole.
The approach shot on the winding 9th hole, which has a creek running all down the left side.
The picturesque tee shot on the par-3 17th hole.
A look from across the pond at the 17th green.
The CJ Cup tee box on 18 is a bit back and to the right, but this view is breathtaking.
Lastly, the 18th green. A great way to end the round.

Thanks for taking the outside-the-ropes Shadow Creek tour with me. Click here for more information on the 2020 CJ Cup!

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