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|The 37-foot waterfall at Wynn Golf and Country Club could make Donald Trump green with envy. (Chris Baldwn/WorldGolf.com)|
It's sometimes hard to tell if that thing behind Wynn Las Vegas is a golf course or a CIA annex.
The staff treats Steve Wynn's latest $500-green-fee course (he introduced that nice round number to Las Vegas golf with Shadow Creek, which he no longer owns) like it houses national security documents. Maybe the real dossier on weapons of mass destruction is buried under the fifth green.
Hey, it's Vegas. Anything is possible.
That would explain the paranoia surrounding the Wynn Golf and Country Club. Golf shop attendant Heather Wicks made it seem like she was letting a few potential customers through the pearly gates when she allowed them to walk out onto the patio that overlooks the 18th green.
"We're really not supposed to let anyone out there," she said.
All you see from this perch is the lushness of the grass - and Wynn Las Vegas is lush - and a 37-foot waterfall at the back of the green that would make Donald Trump blush.
According to Wicks, the course averages only 20 to 50 rounds per day Sunday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday it might get up to a 100 rounds. Playing here is a reward for casino high rollers.
Oh, sure, anyone staying at the Wynn can walk up to the counter, plunk down $500 and get sent out to play. It's just meant for high rollers, right down to the CIA-level secrecy. Tall boundary walls keep passers-by from getting an unpaid glimpse. The scorecards don't even include hole diagrams.
Wouldn't want anyone who didn't drop half a grand to see which way that par 4 doglegs.
"It's beautiful and well-kept," Wicks assured us. "Right now in Las Vegas it's the best-kept one by far."
For a more close-up scoop on Wynn Las Vegas golf, your better off walking right past the pro shop hawking the Wynn polo shirts, out the back patio and down to the caddie station. Caddies love the game, and the ones here will talk to you about Wynn's golf course all day long.
The track is tucked into 137 acres and runs 7,042 yards from the tips. There are 11 holes with water. Only about 60 trees survived from the former Old Desert Inn Golf Course on the site, but another 6,000 were brought in from North Carolina.
Caddie Mario Bonifacio is partial to that showy 18th hole, he says many of the guys whose bags he's lugged prefer No. 15, a par 3 with a little wishbone-shaped stream guarding an island green.
Wicks said the clubhouse crew has been told the 11th is Steve Wynn's favorite hole, though she added, "We're told a lot of things."
Golfers can see many of Sin City's signature buildings from the course. They loom in the distance, looking almost surreal floating above the ultra-green fairways and imported trees.
"A lot of golfers say they don't feel like they're in Vegas anymore," Bonifacio said. "It's hard to believe that you're in the desert."
Celebrity golf course architect Tom Fazio, who also teamed with Wynn on Shadow Creek, achieved a similar non-desert feel at the Lakes at Primm Valley Golf Club, about 40 minutes from the Strip near the California border.
Of course, Primm Valley Lakes doesn't cost $500. And nobody's making you think you've been blessed just see it.
"You're not supposed to go past there," Bonifacio called, seeing a golf tourist approaching the hill on the cart path to the first tee.
April 13, 2007
Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Myrtle Beach, S.C. has its elite golf courses. The more economical end of the spectrum, though, doesn't necessarily mean a pure sacrifice of the game. There are solid rounds that far exceed the accompanying low-dollar greens fees. Here are four courses that have withstood the test of time and don't take a significant chunk out the bank account.
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