The two semi-private courses have always been compared for their similarities as Tom Fazio designs that are among the most expensive and exclusive tee times in golf. But among golf architecture buffs, Shadow Creek has been the most coveted course in Las Vegas since it debuted in 1990. It's always been considered more exclusive, expensive, interesting and scenic than The Wynn, which is hemmed in by limited land right along the Strip.
Recently, Shadow Creek has stolen even more thunder after hosting The Match: Tiger vs. Phil, plus its first LPGA Tour and PGA Tour events.
But The Wynn, ranked 11th in the Golfers' Choice Top 50 for 2021, is ready to fight back by showcasing its best holes on TV for the first time. Capital One's The Match will be televised at 4 p.m. ET Friday on TBS, TruTV and HLN. The competition will comprise only 12 holes, a positive move from past versions of The Match that went long and lost steam on the back nine. All the same shenanigans will apply, with celebrity announcers like Charles Barkley and Phil Mickelson and hole-by-hole competitions such as long drive and closest-to-the-pin that will raise money for charity.
Should you tune in, you'll notice the golf course deserves the spotlight as much as the players and the surrounding hoopla of the event. With interest in playing The Wynn likely to swell, let's look closer at the course's history, its playing experience and how to book tee times.
The history of The Wynn Golf Club
Golf has been played on this plot of land in Las Vegas since the 1952 when the old Desert Inn Golf Club was born. It would go on to host dozens of pro events before Steve Wynn built his two Wynn towers and hired Fazio to design the first version of The Wynn Golf Club in 2005. Although the course was critically acclaimed, sagging interest in the game and the lure of making more money prompted Wynn to scrap the course in 2017 for redevelopment.
The move backfired. Turns out, it was a more valuable asset than management realized. After a two-year closure, the Wynn's 2.0 version reopened in 2019, redesigned by Fazio. After attending the grand re-opening, I like it better than the original.
It's a shorter, par-70 routing of 6,722 yards with one more par 3 (six total), one more par 5 (four total), larger greens, fewer bunkers (37) and reshaped green complexes that tend to kick balls toward the hole rather than repel them. Every tree, bush and piece of landscaping feels like it was properly placed for aesthetic purposes. Water lurks on 12 of the 18 holes. The biggest change is found at the finish. The old ball-busting par 4 is now a thrilling 249-yard par 3 over water with the raging 35-foot waterfall behind the green flowing once again. There's also gambling involved. Golfers can make up to $20,000 for a hole-in-one, depending on the tee box. It's typical Vegas - flashy, over the top, fun.
How to book tee times at The Wynn
Where the Wynn really trumps Shadow Creek is its access. To play Shadow Creek, not only do you have to pony up the $1,000 green fee, you need to stay at an MGM Resort. The Wynn, while still pricey, is open to anyone. Tee times cost $550 from October through May; and $375 (Friday-Sunday) and $300 (Monday-Thursday) from June-September. Of course, I recommend staying in one of the towers because the rooms and views of the course and strip are so nice, not to mention it's so easy to take an elevator down from your room and walk to the small pro shop just off the casino floor. Resort guests get a longer booking window than golfers off the street (90 days vs. 30).
A tee time includes Callaway rental clubs, a forecaddie and a cart stocked with sports drinks, sodas and water. Unfortunately, there's no driving range, only mats where players hit into a net to warm up. A new practice putting green installed during the redesign introduces players to the speed of the greens. You won't play a better conditioned course unless you're hanging out at high-end private palaces like Augusta, Seminole and Cypress. Don't believe me? Reviews have been stellar since the redesign.
"Anything you do at the Wynn is first class, and the golf club is no exception," wrote a golfer from a round in July 2021. "I did not get to play the course prior to the redesign, but this Fazio design is a blast! Looking at the scorecard, you expect the course to be really short, but it plays longer than you expect due to elevation changes and hazards."
Almost all GolfPass reviews shout-out how good the caddies were. Many of them are PGA pros who know the course well and can really play.
"My Caddy Cameron was off the charts," wrote a user of his round in August 2021. "He made the round a greater experience with his guidance and expertise on the course. I am so happy I got to meet him and play this magnificent course."
Tee times can be made by calling the golf concierge at 702-770-4653 or sometimes online at Golfnow.com. Summer rates drop online, so definitely check both options before booking. The golf experience is unforgettable.
"As soon as I walked out onto the grounds I forgot I was in Vegas. It looks like North Carolina," wrote user Phillygolfguy13 in a July 2021 review. "A number of holes resemble holes on Shadow Creek which is awesome. I would play it again. It is a great time on the links."
Have you played The Wynn? Write a review here or tell us about your impressions in the comments below.