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Las Vegas takes you from the concourse to golf course in minutes

By S. Adam Cardais,
Shadow Creek
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Just a few miles from the airport, Tom Fazio's Shadow Creek is one of the most high-profile courses in Las Vegas. (Courtesy photo)

Shadow CreekFor the traveling golfer, Las Vegas might just be the best place in the country to have a layover.

McCarran International Airport is only about a mile from the Strip and a few more minutes from downtown. This puts it nearly in the heart of one of the country's great golf destinations.

Whether you've got a full day to play 18 at Tom Fazio's course at Wynn Las Vegas resort or only a few hours to spare, there are plenty of options within minutes of McCarran.

The Wynn: This Tom Fazio-design at Wynn Las Vegas resort, only a 15-minute drive from the airport, might be the most exclusive track in Sin City.

You'll have to be on a long layover and carrying big bucks to play here - Wynn Las Vegas is open only to guests. (Don't even think about sneaking in - the course is surrounded by a 10-foot fence.) Green fees run around $500. But if you can afford it, Wynn Las Vegas is worth the expense, if only to make yourself one of the few people who can honestly boast about having played it.

Bali Hai Golf Club: This 7,002-yard championship track is on the south end of the Strip, only a 10-minute drive from the airport. Designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in 2000, this par-71 course will make you forget all about the airport lounge. It boasts more than seven acres of water features, 4,000 trees and 100,000 tropical plants.

If you do play Bali Hai, watch out for the 468-yard No. 3, where golfers have to thread play through a creek that runs the entire right side and a bunker on the left.

Royal Links Golf Club: A little under 10 miles from McCarran, this Dye International design plays 7,029 yards from the Royal tees and carries a 135 slope rating.

A links-style course, Royal Links Golf Club took its inspiration from 11 different British Open rotation courses, including St. Andrews and Royal Troon. It bills itself as a tribute to the rich history of golf - and has the awards to back this claim. GolfWeek has named Royal Links one of "America's BEST Courses."

The track has 108 pot bunkers, a few of which are hidden, so you might want to hire one of the club's forecaddies to avoid spending the day on the beach.

Las Vegas National Golf Club: About 10 minutes from the airport, this track is one of the oldest in Sin City. It was built in 1961 - and for anything to last that long in Vegas, it must have something to offer.

Las Vegas National is not a traditional desert course, full as it of palm trees, lush green fairways and water. It's also one of the less-expensive options in Vegas, a town where green fees can set you back a month on your car payment.

Silverstone Golf Club: Located about 25 minutes from the airport, this club is one of the best places to play nine holes in Vegas if you don't have time between flights for a full 18. The Mountain, Desert and Valley courses are all top-rate tracks, with fast greens and well-manicured fairways.

The club is also known for great service, so you won't waste any time here. When you're ready to hit the links, a staff member leads the way to one of Silverstone's three short courses and explains the first hole.

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