This fall’s reincarnation of The Wynn Golf Club is set to bring high-end golf back to the Las Vegas Strip.
The new 6,722-yard, par-70 routing by original architect Tom Fazio with an assist from his son, Logan, will reopen Oct. 11. That’s shorter than the original 7,042-yard course that closed in December of 2017, but much of the character that made the Wynn such a unique property returns – the 35-foot-high, 100-foot-wide waterfall behind the 18th green; the lush conditions; top caddies (many of them PGA of America members); the premier service; and of course, the fat green fee: $550 in peak season and $300-$375 in the summer offseason. The new routing makes room for a new convention center, a part of the $1.5-billion development that was scaled back last fall.
Wynn’s Executive Director of Golf Operations Brian Hawthorne, who was originally hired in 2005 six months after the course opened, says that eight holes are completely new, while the other 10 holes follow similar corridors. Every green has been reshaped and covered with a new strain of Dominator Bentgrass.
“The Fazio team has done a great job in keeping the same dynamic as before,” Hawthorne said of the new routing. “The single-digit handicap will face a great test, and the foursome of casino customers who have never held a club can still enjoy themselves.”
The new routing
Each nine sports two par 5s and three par 3s. Water comes into play on 12 holes. It's not overly bunkered (only 37, an average of two a hole). The changes, though, are noticeable from the start. The first hole goes in the opposite direction of the original and doglegs right instead of left. Four of the first five holes are new.
Perhaps the biggest decision came at the end of the round. Fazio transformed a really tough finishing par 4 into a gut-busting par 3 of 249 from the tips and around 200 yards from the 6,272-yard tees most golfers will play. “It will be a real crescendo,” Hawthorne said. “It’s typical Vegas. All will be on the line at the end in one swing.”
The rebirth brings golf back to a site that has been green with fairways for more than six decades. The old Desert Inn Golf Club opened in 1952. The mostly flat, featureless course hosted more than 35 professional tournaments before it was blown up in 2001 to make way for Steve Wynn's twin hotel towers, Wynn and Encore, and the course. When asked if he missed the old routing or loved the new one, Hawthorne said he’s seen “the best of both worlds.”
“The feel and overall tradition of the layout is still consistent in the reworked holes,” he added. “They (the Fazio team) took a lot of time. They didn’t want it to be ‘these are the old holes’ and ‘these are the new holes.’ They wanted it to feel like one continuous layout.”
The greens fee
There is a segment of golfers who will always criticize the Wynn for charging one of the highest green fees in public golf outside of Pebble Beach Golf Links (which recently raised its greens fees to $550) and Shadow Creek which charges $600, plus a required stay at an MGM hotel. The Wynn greens fee includes a forecaddie, cart and the convenience of playing right on the Strip. Golfers with confirmed hotel reservations can make tee times starting July 13. All others can reserve tee times 30 days in advance, or as of September 14. Hawthorne defends the price because of what the Wynn delivers. Legendary chef Thomas Keller will add another luxurious amenity to the whole experience, opening a new restaurant in the fall of 2020 to replace The Country Club near the golf shop.
“I don’t like to look at it as just a golf course,” he said. “I like to look at it as an experience. The moment you walk in, you are catered to at a high level that is consistent with what we employ at our entire property. Everything is five star. Those experiences come at a cost.”
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