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Fairways to Heaven

Backyard Golf Course Owners Find There's No Place Like Home

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"Then I read this article about pitch-and-putt courses of Ireland, and the longest hole they have on those courses is about 65 yards. They hit these terrific wedge shots that back up 25 feet on the green. So I started shifting my thinking and decided what I really ought to have is a nine-hole pitch-and-putt course. You can really do one or the other. You can have a regular hole where you are going to be hitting three and four irons, or you can really practice. I'd probably get a lot more practice and have more fun with the pitch-and-putt."

Hannah broke ground on his course this summer and plans to be playing in the spring. "I think I should have a golf course in my backyard as long as I have this nice little farm. I'm looking to do this to have fun, and because I'm 48 years old and I think I ought to be doing this kind of thing. I see myself out there with friends, with the sun going down, lofting up wedge shots while we drink some beers." Sounds like golf heaven. *

Larry Olmsted is a freelance writer who lives in Vermont. MATTERS OF COURSE

For more information on building your own golf course, contact:

The American Society of Golf Course Architects
221 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60601 (312) 372-7090

For information on selecting an architect, construction methods, maintenance, costs and a membership list:

Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
1421 Research Park Drive
Lawrence, Kansas 66049-3859 (913) 841-2240

For information on construction, maintenance and environmental concerns:

United States Golf Association (USGA)
Golf House
P.O. Box 708
Far Hills, New Jersey 07931-0708
A Web the USGA green construction process and requirements.

Sources for design and construction of personal golf greens and courses:

Fazio Golf Green Design (Peter J. Fazio)
102 East Fairview Avenue
Langhorne, Pennsylvania 19047
(215) 752-PUTT

Golf Greens of America (Riley Stottern)
463 Heritage Drive
St. George, Utah 84770 (801) 634-0757

Edmund Hollander Design, P.C.
21 East Fourth Street
New York, New York 10003 (212) 473-0620

Robert Trent Jones II
705 Forest Avenue
Palo Alto, California 94301 (415) 326-3833

Jay Morrish & Associates (Carter Morrish)
3700 Forums Drive - Suite 207
Flower Mound, Texas 75028 (972) 539-3465

Tour True Turf Technologies (Irving Bookspan)
U.S. Indoor Golf
384 Oyster Point Boulevard - Suite 14
South San Francisco, California 94080 (415) 244-0690 --LO SHADOW CREEK COURSE: Now Open For Business

It has been called the most exclusive golf course in the world. Augusta National? Cypress Point? Pine Valley?

No, Shadow Creek.

You couldn't get more private. Since it opened in 1989, the only way to play the golf course, a tropical wonderland hidden amid otherwise desolate North Las Vegas scrubland, was to be invited. No problem, right? Just find a member to take you--like you might at Augusta.

Shadow Creek, however, has only one "member": Steve Wynn, the chairman of Mirage Resorts. If you wanted to snare a coveted invitation, you had to be a management employee at one of the company's Las Vegas casino properties, a fully "comped" high roller, or household-name famous. Period. The usual golf course interlopers--journalists, corporate heavy hitters, persistent relatives--simply had to learn to take "No" for an answer.

Shadow Creek, consistently ranked as one of the top 10 courses in America, was a private playground, reserved for an elite, anointed few. (See Cigar Aficionado, Autumn 1994.)

Until now.

To the delight of golf fanatics everywhere, Shadow Creek is now open to limited--very limited--public play. Here's the deal: For $1,000, a guest may purchase one of six to 12 tee times available each day. (Availability is contingent on the number of invited guests, and the season and day of the week. High-season weekends are the most difficult time to get a reservation.) The fee includes a caddie to escort you around the 6,701-yard game preserve masquerading as a golf course, round-trip limousine transportation to and from the club, and a suite at The Mirage, Treasure Island or Golden Nugget. One other player, staying in the same suite, may participate for an additional $500.

Whether this hefty tariff is a good value depends on your priorities. To those who want to play an immaculate, startlingly beautiful course-- which very few have ever played--and do so in the company of the rich and famous--the price may seem like a bargain.

A night at Pebble Beach and a round of golf the next morning costs around $750--and there you get the privilege of paying an additional fee for range balls and waiting 30 minutes at the eighth tee for the bottleneck to clear. After a six-hour round filled with a lot of standing around, you start to wonder, is it worth it?

At Shadow Creek, the experience is in almost every way perfect. The course, designed by Tom Fazio (in collaboration with Wynn) is laid out as a series of concave arenas, blanketed by mature trees and immense earth berms; you never see any hole except the one you are playing. With wide fairways, big greens and reasonable rough, Shadow Creek is enormously playable. Though water runs through about half the holes, there are few forced carries, none of them particularly long.

Playing here is about golf as pleasure, not punishment. From the moment you enter the luxurious changing room--where luminaries ranging from Bill Gates to Bruce Willis to Phil Mickelson keep lockers--to your time on a practice range more elegant than the back nine at most country clubs, you are immersed in privacy, comfort and sensual delights. (Just try not to hit one of the omnipresent pheasants with a wayward drive.) And even though anyone with a credit card can now attempt to play this most exclusive of golf courses, don't worry about Shadow Creek losing any of its mystique. The day I was there, Michael Jordan was in the foursome ahead of me. * --Michael Konik

Contributing editor Michael Konik is Cigar Aficionado's gambling columnist.

For reservations at Shadow Creek, call (888) 778-3387.

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