The Local Knowlege

Courses & Travel

Shadow Creek opens its doors to Michael Jordan's tournament

Those who know of Las Vegas' Shadow Creek GC are familiar with its exclusive ways. Play at this Las Vegas wonder is restricted solely to guests at MGM-owned hotels (President Clinton once was refused a tee time because he was not staying at one) either invited or willing to pay the $500 green fee. Even that does not guarantee a tee time -- some cash play is turned down to keep rounds played to approximately 40 per day. On March 29 through April 1, however, Shadow Creek is opening its doors for the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational.

For as little as a $30 daily ticket (other weekly and VIP tickets also available -- visit MJCIGolf.com), golf fans can witness this architectural marvel (some 21,000 trees were planted and the course was said to cost more than $60 million to build) first-hand during the event. Hint: Stake out a spot on the par-3, 17th. Word is if anyone scores an ace, a liquor sponsor may be doling out some free booze.


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Photo courtesy of Shadow Creek GC

Jordan, who has played the course more than 100 times, always has a small army of celebrities and sports stars at his event (this year Aaron Rodgers, Wayne Gretzky and Ken Griffey Jr. will be in the field), but this time they will share star billing with Shadow Creek. Originally nothing more than desolate, scarred brown earth, casino magnate Steve Wynn gave architect Tom Fazio a blank check and an open time frame to create a course that Wynn once said, "was supposed to excite one's emotions, and then test one's golf."

Related: A closer look at Michael Jordan's swing

As someone who has played the course, I feel that Fazio delivered on both counts. The course is dramatic in many spots, yet has an unexpected mature feel to it, eschewing, for the most part, overblown glitz (the waterfall behind No. 17 a possible exception). Initially, play at this Las Vegas wonder was restricted to members and special guests when the course opened in 1989. Ten years later, owner Steve Wynn opened the course to all guests at his hotels willing to shell out a $1,000 green fee (but hey, you got limo service to and from the course -- something that is still part of the package). Today the green fee is half that and while no course is likely "worth" a $500 green fee, I submit that in an area filled with over-priced, mediocre golf courses, I'd much rather play one round here than two or three rounds elsewhere.

But that's for high rollers. This weekend, for a few days, non-high rollers can also enjoy the experience Fazio and Wynn created during the Jordan Invitational. They just can't bring their clubs.

--E. Michael Johnson

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