Wynn Golf Club's future remains uncertain, but the path to redevelopment has always been clear on the Las Vegas Strip

PGA Professional Brian Hawthorne remembers the day he was hired in 2005 to run Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas like it was yesterday.

Sitting at a table in Steve Wynn's villa, his new boss warned Hawthorne then that the golf course likely wouldn't be around forever, even though millions of dollars had been spent building Tom Fazio's 7,042-yard, par-70 layout on the old Desert Inn Country Club.

"He told me, 'You realize this is a five-year assignment. We have other plans for this space. We want this as special as it can be for as long as we have it,'" recalled Hawthorne, Wynn's former director of golf who left Wynn Resorts in February to work with Full Swing Golf. "I told him I totally understand and that I was excited to be working with him. I made it 10-and-a-half years (working there). Reflecting back, I feel like I beat the odds in Vegas."

Wynn Golf Club likely will not -- at least not in its current form.

News that Wynn plans to transform the golf course's 137 acres into "Wynn Paradise Park" has golfers lamenting the demise of one of the game's most famous (or infamous?) courses.

The park's centerpiece, a 38-acre lagoon, reportedly will be surrounded by premium meeting and convention space, a 1,000-room hotel tower, a small casino and extensive dining and nightlife. The elaborate water attraction will include both daytime watersports and nighttime entertainment elements, such as firework shows. The billion-dollar development must still meet approval by the company's Board of Directors.

An architectural massing model presented at an investors conference April 6 and seen in several media outlets showcased golf holes near the lake. However, Michael Weaver, Wynn's senior vice president of marketing and communications, wrote by e-mail that: "We've not yet decided if any of the golf course will actually be retained."

Las Vegas media outlets have reported that construction of Wynn Paradise Park might start as early as this fall, meaning the course could close within six months. For now, it remains open to golfers willing to pay the $500 green fee or to casino whales whose loyalty at Wynn's tables earns a tee time. Wynn's price tag has always been a controversial subject.

I'd recommend you play the course if you've still got it on your bucket list. I gave Wynn four stars in my Golf Advisor review in 2012. Looking back, it's probably five-star worthy. It's not as memorable as the other $500 rounds near Las Vegas -- Shadow Creek and Cascata -- but it's still a special experience. The rolling topography and landscaping of the course feels like a pleasant stroll through the rolling hills of North Carolina. It's a nice change of pace from the frantic chaos of the Strip. The round ends at a cascading waterfall behind the 18th green. Everything else is nearly flawless: the caddies, the conditioning, the service in the locker room and the food in the restaurant.

Given Wynn's dedication to the game -- he hired Fazio to build Shadow Creek before they teamed up again at Wynn -- Hawthorne wouldn't be surprised if golf somehow found its way into Paradise Park. He indicated there is potential for a par-3 course or a new nine holes.

"There is still a good amount of land" available, Hawthorne said. "There is plenty of irrigation already there and large trees that could be moved around, just like the first time. I'm speaking completely not knowing what might happen. ...

"Mr. Wynn has the Midas touch with whatever he does," Hawthorne continued. "If there is a nine-hole window, my guess is he would bring in Fazio, and he would make it magical."

Or maybe Wynn's golf magic is truly over and preparations are being made for its final disappearing act. In Vegas, the show must go on, whether golf gets invited to the party or not.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Related Links

There are many great casino hotels in the Las Vegas area, but some fit better for a golf vacation than others. Here are the best.
4 Min Read
We looked at the most expensive courses in the U.S. to see if there are any ways to play them on the cheap.
9 Min Read
When it comes to casino golf, Las Vegas might be the first spot that comes to mind. But Sin City's only the beginning. Here are my favorite casino courses around the U.S.
6 Min Read
More from the author
4 Min Read
November 21, 2022
More than $100 million in renovations and upgrades have Horseshoe Bay ready for your next golf getaway.
2 Min Read
November 20, 2022
New innovation brings unique products to improve the life of golfers.
3 Min Read
November 7, 2022
A club fitting with the TaylorMade Performance Center at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy can help you find a new favorite club.
1 Min Read
November 7, 2022
The YOC auction raises money to benefit junior golfers.
3 Min Read
November 2, 2022
Golf bachelor parties require the right mix of nightlife coupled with daytime rounds. We've found the best spots for your crew.
2 Min Read
October 31, 2022
Hitting golf balls into nature on purpose breaks the ethical code that golfers should leave the course - and its surroundings - better than how they found it.
3 Min Read
November 16, 2022
Las Vegas loves over-the-top luxury. This offer combines some golf with insider access to the 2023 Formula 1 race on the Strip.
8 Min Read
November 20, 2022
GOLF+, an increasingly popular virtual-reality golf video game, brings an impressive simulation of the game into your living room.
3 Min Read
October 27, 2022
Would you dare play a "haunted" golf course?
4 Min Read
October 31, 2022
Dealing with lost luggage, a rebranded links golf hotel and more highlight this month's secrets of golf travel column.
Load More
Now Reading
Wynn Golf Club's future remains uncertain, but the path to redevelopment has always been clear on the Las Vegas Strip