shadow creek golf courseAs one of the most expensive public golf courses in the world, the Shadow Creek course in North Las Vegas, Nevada is consistently rated as one of the greatest places to play every year. At an average green fee of $500 (which is just half of its originally intended price), you can expect to hand out some greenbacks to play it. Is it worth that crazy green fee? How do you get to play it? What can you expect from playing Shadow Creek? Good questions!

Shadow Creek is just a twenty minute drive from the Strip in Las Vegas. It is literally in the middle of the desert. That is at least half of its appeal. It’s a lush, beautiful oasis paradise that is just not supposed to be there. There are waterfalls, thousands of animals drawn to the lushness, and grass that is so strikingly green that it just doesn’t seem to make sense. How in the world did this golf course get here, in a place that is otherwise practically void of vegetation and life in general?

Before we talk about the course too much, let’s figure out how you can get to play on it in the first place. If you want to enjoy the same links that Michael Jordan plays on a regular basis, and you’re just an average hacking joe like the bulk of us, there are two things you need: money and a hotel stay. It will cost you $500, and you have to stay at an MGM property to get a shot at it. Without either one of these, you won’t get in. Even though it is considered to be open to the public, that “public” is any registered MGM guest. As far as the $500 green fee goes, there is no exception.

Even if you are staying at an MGM property in Vegas, and you have registered to play at Shadow Creek, that doesn’t men you will actually get to play. They like to make you feel as though you’re the only player there, and that goes double for big whales and VIP’s. If a big shot shows up on the day you’re supposed to be there, you will just get a phone call from them saying, “sorry.” If you are staying on the property, and you can afford it, and no big timer knocks you off of the list, you’re still only able to get a tee time for Monday through Thursday, as the weekends are reserved for the high rollers.

If you’re lucky, and the president doesn’t come on your day, you will get a phone call announcing that your ride is on its way. You will then meet your inbound limo at your hotel on the Strip. You’ll get onboard and take a 15-20 minute ride outside of the city. When  you get to Shadow Creek you won’t see an outlandish facility carved in gold. What you will see is a place that mostly blends in. Rather than appearing as a brazen jewel, Shadow Creek goes for a much simpler flair when it comes to the clubhouse and other facilities. It’s not outlandish. It’s not “Trump-like”. It feels natural.

Of course it’s really anything but natural. The Tom Fazio designed course contains many waterfalls, streams, lakes and thousands of imported trees. All of this is anything but natural for the desert. But there it is.

The big question: is it worth $500? Actually, the price is a good bit more. Yes, the fee is $500, but that doesn’t take into account several other factors. For one, you have to stay at an MGM hotel in Vegas. That will cost you anywhere from $100 to $300+ for a night. Then you have to hire a caddie (not optional) which will set you back another $100. On a budget, a round of golf at Shadow Creek will cost you $700 (or more). Better yet, it’s very possible that you could book a room, make your plans, and then find out at the last minute that your tee time has been cancelled!

So is it worth it? Yes, yes it is! Watch this video of the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational tournament at Shadow Creek to get a hint of why Shadow Creek is worth the crazy rate:

2012 Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational Shadow Creek holes 1 and 18 atmosphere