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Nestled behind the Wynn and Encore resorts, intersected by fish-filled streams and ponds and surrounded by enough plant life to provide an intimate and private setting resides Wynn Golf Club (WGC), one of the few American golfing destinations brazen enough to carry a $500 price tag.
Opened to the public in 2005 on the site that used to house the old Desert Inn Golf Course, WGC is the second collaboration between casino mogul Steve Wynn and world-renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio. The first partnership between the duo resulted in the 1989 opening of Las Vegas' Shadow Creek, the city's top-ranked golf course and a track many believe serves as Fazio's greatest achievement in the sport.
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“An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.” -- Mitch Hedberg
Ours is a society fixated on the innovations and concepts aimed at making life more convenient. We order room service instead of dining out, text instead of call, hail a taxi rather than walk. Our time — especially while on vacation — is a precious commodity. We want to achieve certain goals and we want to do so while burning as little clock as possible.
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They told us it was too far of a drive, too windy to navigate with success and too long to score low. Every time the topic was broached it seemed somebody new would emerge from the shadows to provide a reason why we should avoid the three championship courses at Paiute Golf Resort in northwest Las Vegas. But, every conversation concluded in the same manner, “Yeah, but those courses are terrific.”
Paiute Golf Resort is the perfect example of why it’s important to experience something for yourself rather than to rely solely on the opinion of others. Too far of a drive? Sorry, but we don’t consider a 30-minute trek up the I-95 to play a Pete Dye (Whistling Straits, Ocean Course at Kiawah Island) layout to be anything more than a walk in the park. Too windy? We’ve made multiple pilgrimages to the legendary golf complex in Bandon, Oregon. You haven’t felt wind until you’ve tried to tee off into the ferocious gusts that sweep in from the Pacific Ocean onto Oregon’s southwest coast. Too long? Sure, at 7,604 yards, the Wolf Course checks in as the longest track in Nevada. But there are five tee options for golfers of varying skill sets.
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A 40-minute ride south on the I-15, before the elevation begins to rise and the driver becomes subject to the laws of California, lies Primm, Nevada. A dusty locale situated in the Mohave Desert, Primm signifies both beginning and end -- the commencement of an action-packed weekend in Las Vegas for those commuting from California, the final stop on the ride south for those departing Nevada.
To call Primm a city would be akin to designating the MGM Grand a sovereign state. The 2000 census population for Primm was just 436 people. It's more of a rest stop than a city, but it's a rest stop with plenty of attractions and, in typical Southern Nevada tradition, plenty of excitement.
We made the trek down to Primm under the guise of a round of golf at the Primm Valley Golf Club, but with an 8:00 a.m. tee time, there were plenty of hours left in the day for us to explore the various attractions the city has to offer.
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Even at 58 years of age, the Wizard of Oz still had enough magic left in his 15-time All-Star body to emerge victorious amidst a sea of worthy competition.
Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith and former Cardinals teammate Vince Coleman joined forces in Las Vegas over the weekend to win the 12th annual Michael Jordan Celebrity Golf Invitational (presented by Aria) at the world-renowned Shadow Creek. Smith and Coleman shot an 11-under, 133 during the two-day scramble and held off a late surge from the team of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and Ahmad Rashad for a four-stroke victory.
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Amid the blue-collar community of North Las Vegas -- where the style and swagger of the world-renowned Strip gives way to the more traditional American ambience of pickup trucks, apartment complexes and fast food eateries -- lies an emerald paradise whose beauty is matched only by its ferocity. Carefully secluded from the outside world, it's where privacy and splendor converge to stop time, if only for a few hours, before the necessary return to the rank and file.
With an understated elegance mindful of tradition, Shadow Creek golf course embodies the opulent lifestyle of Las Vegas without the overblown penchant for excess. You don't golf Shadow Creek, you experience it, just as one does not simply stare at the Mona Lisa or merely listen to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Shadow Creek transcends the expectations of what a golf course should be and emerges to the classification of what it truly is: A work of art.
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Did you honestly think His Airness would pick any other golf course? Greatness knows greatness. And, if Michael Jordan is going to host a golf tournament in Las Vegas for charity, you know damn well he's going to do it on the best track in town.
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Tickets are still available and general admission pricing is holding steady at last year's rate of $30 a day. Keep an eye on Travelzoo, though, as it has offered 2-for-1 deals in the past. Now, as part of a VegasChatter Flashback, we remind you of the seven things you need to know before showing up on the greens:
1. You don't need to cab it. Shadow Creek isn't located anywhere close to The Strip. In fact, it's about a 25-30 minute drive from Bellagio. Instead of forking over the cab fare, take MGM Resorts up on complimentary shuttle service. You'll have to get to the pick-up/drop-off point at ARIA's North Valet (that's in the back, off of Harmon Ave.), but they'll take over from there. On Thursday and Friday, shuttles will take guests to Shadow Creek from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, shuttles will run guests to the course from 7 a.m. to noon. Continuous return service from Shadow Creek to ARIA will be provided until 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Whether leaving or returning, shuttles will run on a 30-minute schedule.
Of all the possibly thoughts that could have been running through this writer's mind during a recent outing at Bear's Best Golf Course, this was the cogitation that had seared itself into our cerebrum. The surrounding beauty of the nearby mountains, a unique layout and the tranquil environment with which Bear's Best calls home were temporarily forced to take a backseat to a third-tier quote from an Adam Sandler movie.
We didn't plan for this to happen. Nor did we want it to. But, 18-time Major Championship winner Jack Nicklaus had set a bear trap in West Las Vegas... and we happily walked right into it.
The first thing you'll notice is the quiet. It's unmistakable. Perhaps, it takes a few holes or maybe you become cognizant of this feature while standing on the tee box at No. 1. But, either way, there will come a point during any golfer's round at Arroyo Golf Club at Red Rock when they realize this course is almost completely devoid of ambient noise and distraction.
That's a big plus in this golfer's book, which is not to say we dislike courses that fail to offer such a benefit. But, this Chatter'er has long subscribed to the notion that the game of golf is as much about the physical and mental challenge as it is the opportunity to unplug from the world and relax for a few hours.
As if the serenity weren't enough to put our minds at ease, Arroyo Golf Club is nestled close to the base of the nearby Red Rock mountains in the Vegas suburb of Summerlin, meaning every hole that faces west offers a beautiful vista of the remarkable surrounding landscape. As you have no doubt already gathered, Arroyo scores well in the ambience and aesthetics categories.
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Celebrities for this year's event haven't been announced yet, but the short list of famous people that played the MJCI in the past is quite impressive. Sports legends include Wayne Gretzky, Charles Barkley, Mario Lemieux and Julius “Dr. J” Erving while entertainment personalities have been highlighted by Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell and Don Cheadle.
The prominent topic in Las Vegas over the last few weeks -- both in face-to-face conversation and via social media -- has been the city's displeasure with the unseasonably cool temperatures that have swept across the landscape. Never mind the fact that not a single flake of snow has found its way onto the valley floor. (Although, quite a few things did freeze over including the fountains of Caesars.) Nevertheless, we live in the desert. We moved here because we prefer warm temperatures.
That's not to say that a colder climate is devoid of benefit. A big advantage awaits golfers unafraid of donning an extra layer of fabric to brave the Vegas morn. The chilly air has kept a large percentage of golfers away from the courses, paving the way for casual four-hour rounds spent focusing on one's game rather than the amount of time it's taking the group in front to clear the green.
We capitalized in full on nature's recent gift to the brave with an early January round at Painted Desert, an 18-hole layout situated on the western side of town. Designed by Jay Morrish and opened to the public in 1987, Painted Desert stakes claim to being one of the first desert layouts in Las Vegas. Tight fairways with a few strategically placed water hazards are two course characteristics to keep in mind when approaching the first tee.