The country’s most expensive course inspired our best-read travel story of 2023

Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas

At Shadow Creek, in Las Vegas, greens fees jumped by 25 percent.

Getty Images

Money, money, money.

This past year in golf was awash in it. Eight-figure first-place prizes. Nine-figure player contracts.

The sums were astounding, and what they said about the game became a source of some dispute. Depending on your view, the elevated purses and extravagant signings either signaled that professional golfers were a) wildly overpaid or b) finally getting what they deserved. Whatever the case, the sheer amount of moolah was enough to warp perspectives.

“Generational wealth is there to be had,” LIV CEO Greg Norman enthused, describing the allure of the Saudi-backed circuit. As if the financial welfare of, say, Jon Rahm’s grandkids might otherwise be in doubt.

And it wasn’t just the pros.

Big money flooded the recreational game, too. Everywhere you turned, it seemed a lavish new club was enrolling well-heeled members. In New Jersey, baseball star Mike Trout announced that he was building a course that he’d named in his own honor. In Florida, a private redoubt opened with a Norman-design layout. The initiation dues? $1 million.

All around the country, high-end resorts and daily-fee courses were packed. Some raised rates. In April, Pebble Beach bumped its greens fees to $625. At TPC Sawgrass, peek dynamic pricing pushed the cost of a round above $800.

All of which made headlines. But on, no story drew more clicks than a post about the most expensive greens fee of them all. 

Ever since it opened, in 1989, Shadow Creek Golf Course, in North Las Vegas, had been a place apart. Designed by Tom Fazio, and bankrolled by casino magnate Steve Wynn at a reported cost of roughly $60 million, the impeccably kept layout existed for years as a Shangri-La reserved for the highest of high-rollers. In 2000, though, MGM Resorts International took over from Wynn and flung the gates open, sort of. Anyone could now play Shadow Creek — provided they were staying at designated MGM property and were willing to shell out $500.

What seemed expensive then comes off as chicken feed today.

In more recent years, as Shadow Creek has enjoyed growing nationally televised exposure as the host of a series of professional events (starting with The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, followed by the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup and the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play event), its rates have grown as well. In 2019, $500 became $600, which swelled to $1,000 in 2021. 

If you think that what goes up must eventually come down, you might be right. But 2023 was not the year for that. Not at Shadow Creek. This past fall, MGM raised rates again. To $1,250. Caddie not included. Though you do get a limo ride to and from the course.

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.