“Meet me at the Aria Sky Suites at 6:45 am on Saturday. The limo will pick us up at 7 o’clock and shuttle us out to Shadow Creek.”
“Sure thing, boss. Anything you say.”
Seriously, how else was I supposed to respond?
I’m an avid golfer, and Shadow Creek is the most prestigious course in Sin City.
When the owner of the company I work for invited me to join him for 18 holes, I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. In fact, I was so excited that I could barely fall asleep on the Friday night before.
I’m talking outfit laid out, two alarms set, my clubs clean as a whistle.
This was an opportunity to experience four and a half hours of golf in its purest form as well as impress the guy responsible for cutting my checks.
I’ll get to the part about me birding the iconic par-3 17th in a bit, but let’s first go back to the beginning.
The Invitation to Shadow Creek
As I hurried to my desk after grabbing a burger from Shake Shack, I noticed I had a message waiting for me. The lead executive at my job had asked me to come into his office when I had a chance.
Thanks to my “worry wart” personality, I was slightly nervous and wasn’t really sure what to think. That’s when he dropped the bomb.
“Do you have any plans on June 15th? I’m playing Shadow Creek that morning and was wondering if you wanted to join me.”
All I really remember saying was that if I had any existing plans on that day, “I didn’t anymore.”
Arriving at “The Creek”
Local golfers sometimes refer to the acclaimed Tom Fazio design as simply “The Creek.” Nothing in Vegas compares to the exclusivity of Shadow Creek, period. Even the Summit Club, the esteemed and untouchable secluded property in the southwest part of town (also designed by Tom Fazio), can’t hold a candle to what Shadow offers.
Last time I checked, the locker room at the Discovery Property in south Summerlin didn’t look like this.
Walk around the locker room at Shadow Creek, and you’ll also see names like President Obama and President Bush plastered in gold.
I could continue boasting about the famous people who have lockers at Shadow Creek, but I’ll sum things up by telling you that I got to be “Jason Bourne” for the day. No joke — I actually got to use Matt Damon’s locker to store my belongings, and I wasn’t shy about snapping a photo.
The Reminiscing Ensued
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to play Shadow Creek multiple times, but I hadn’t been out there since 2003. I remembered the entrance into the private oasis in North Las Vegas vividly, and I remembered the feel of the dining area and the ambiance of the pro shop.
Sure enough, fast forward some 16 years, and not much had changed, so much so that Rhonda, a bartender who has been there since the day they opened in 1989, was still in her same spot. There she was with her curly blonde hair and distinct eye makeup, cranking out “Rhondaritas.”
I didn’t indulge in her version of a margarita that she has been pouring for nearly as long as I have been alive, but instead, I grabbed a breakfast sandwich and headed outside.
That’s exactly when I exclaimed to my boss, “I wonder if they still have Gatorade in a can like they used to back in the day?”
I’m not sure if you have ever slurped an ice-cold Gatorade out of an aluminum can, but boy, is it a privilege. I don’t know if they bottle this stuff underground and inject additional flavor, but it just tastes really, really good.
Before Kyle could even introduce himself as our caddie, I leaned into our cart and opened up the cooler.
This day was getting better and better, and it hadn’t even begun.
Not a Blade of Grass Out of Place
I would tell you that the driving range is a pristine practice facility, but even that wouldn’t do it proper justice. Talk about an immaculate place to hit golf balls — it doesn’t get any better than what they offer at Shadow Creek.
However, when a casino mogul spends upwards of $60 million to create a palace in the desert, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can’t find a single blade of grass out of place.
During my warmup, I felt less concerned about where the ball was going and was more interested in soaking up the atmosphere. Perhaps that’s a sign of my maturity and appreciation for the situation, or perhaps I was striping it like clockwork.
I’ll let your imagination decide.
After hitting a few balls and rolling some putts, we were headed to the tee. Our caddie Kyle hopped on the back of the cart, and two other gentlemen who are far more important than me followed behind.
Back-to-Back Birdies on #16 and #17
I remember everything clearly from start to finish. I could describe my entire round to you shot-by-shot, but even a golf nerd like myself would find that a little boring.
In all honesty, it was a pretty “blah” round in terms of my score until we arrived at the par-5 16th hole. I was scraping it around for the most part but doing a decent job salvaging pars from some pretty precarious spots.
Standing on the tee of the dogleg right par 5, I whispered to myself that this would be a terrific time to dial one up and catch one in the sweet spot. Measuring 600 yards on the nose, I blasted a high cut up the right side of the fairway, just as the doctor ordered.
Left with 278 yards to a back right pin that was sitting up on a ledge, I knew I had plenty of room left of the green where I would have a good chance of getting up and down for a birdie. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of overcutting a 3 wood.
Further complicating the issue, I wound up missing the green on my third shot when my pitch shot climbed up the false front only to roll back down into the rough. My caddie even shouted out before I approached the ball to beware of the false front, which only added to my frustration.
Inside, I was seething, but there was no way I was going to display any negative emotions. As much as I wanted to play good golf, behaving like a gentleman was much more significant.
Biting my tongue paid off as I proceeded to hole the ensuing chip shot from about 45 feet for my first birdie of the day. What’s even better is that it only took about 11 minutes for me to make another.
That’s me standing on the famous 17th hole at Shadow Creek, the downhill par 3 with waterfalls streaming behind the putting surface. I stepped up and hit a knockdown pitching wedge about 12 feet behind the hole, only to be “1-upped” by nearly everyone in the group!
You can see that all four of our balls hit the green in regulation, and we all had good looks at a birdie. The hedge fund manager from Kansas City rolled his putt in for a deuce. I followed him in by dripping my left-to-right curler into the bottom of the cup.
Finally, I could walk with a little strut in my step.
What Did I Shoot?
When it was all said and done, I had registered 11 pars, 5 bogies, and 2 birdies.
Shooting 75 on a perfect day with little wind wasn’t ideal, but it was enough to demonstrate that I have a good understanding of how to properly swing a golf club. More notably, I had an awesome time playing golf with the man who gives me an opportunity to earn a living — and I’m pretty sure he enjoyed himself a great deal as well.
In my book, that’s a win-win.
The Ending to a Magical Day
There’s a zoomed-in look of the 18th fairway from the back tee. Gorgeous mountains are emphasized in the backdrop while exquisite bunkering peacefully guards the right side of the fairway.
After the round, I was treated to a delectable lunch where I downed a Michelob Ultra and went to work on a grilled cheese stuffed with thinly-sliced ham. Their refined iteration of a croque monsieur didn’t stand a chance as I scarfed it down in about seven bites.
My boss and I moseyed into the pro shop where we each purchased a hat and a headcover before jumping back into the limousine to take us back to the Aria. Talk about being in seventh heaven — I had to be reminded to go back into the locker room and retrieve the shoes I was wearing when I arrived.
Did I think Matt Damon was going to magically transport them back to me at a different point in time, or was I just that enthralled by my surroundings?
I think it’s pretty safe to say I had one heck of an afternoon playing Shadow Creek. If any of you get in touch with the owner of my company, tell him I’m available next weekend, too!
What a Day – Playing Shadow Creek Golf Course With My Boss
Has your boss ever invited you to play Shadow Creek on a Saturday morning? Mine did, and here’s what the experience was like!