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Shadow Creek

Out of the nothingness of the desert floor, Tom Fazio built a monument of '80s extravagance that remains Sin City's premier layout

By: Tom Dellner

Appeared in January/February 2006 LINKS

It’s fashionable for architects to speak of “finding” holes in the topography. There were no holes—or much of anything else—to be discovered on the 320-acre parcel of barren desert 10 miles north of the Vegas Strip that is now Shadow Creek. A golf course existed solely in the considerable imaginations of designer Tom Fazio and owner Steve Wynn.

Fazio dug into the desert to manufacture an ecosystem of sorts, creating hills, canyons, lakes and streams, planting 21,000 trees, exotic plants and flowers, and importing wild turkeys, swans and wallabies—all for a cool $40 million.

Holes like the 409-yard 9th (shown) showcase both the extensive landscaping and Fazio's design. The fairway is more generous than appears from the tee, favoring the right side offers a better angle to the right-to-left angled green protected on the left by water and a bunker.

Shadow Creek, which debuted in 1989 amid hype that even Donald Trump would envy, might be golf’s greatest fabrication, but it’s an inspired design. On an empty canvas, Fazio composed a perfectly paced routing of well-complemented holes, building to a dramatic finish—a heroic 527-yard par 5 that calls for two perfectly played shots to reach the water-guarded green in two.

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