Been a while since I've posted a golf course review. This installment, Wynn Golf Course at the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
There's no bag drop. You can trust the bellhop not to crush your clubs or you can haul them across the casino lobby yourself like I did. This isn't a problem for most since most will be using rental clubs (Callaways). The proshop is small, selling various Wynn Golf Club accessories and apparel. You might see a celebrity or two while here (David Spade of Rules of Engagement was in front of me). Next to the proshop, overlooking the course, is The Country Club restaurant. And next to The Country Club bar are two large wooden doors leading to the locker rooms.
The locker room is nice and has all the usual ammenties: couches, television, bathroom, shower. Suncreen is available so you don't need to bring your own. Some fruits in the hallway if you're hungry.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out there's a decent warm-up/practice facility. With limited real estate, I figured there might be one dinky putting green and that's it. But there's a decent size putting green and about 10-15 stalls for hitting balls. Not a full size driving range, you'll be hitting off matts into a net. But the large net is about 40-50 feet in front of you, allowing you to see the flight of your shots.
Each group is assigned a forecaddie. I definitely prefer a regular caddie carrying my bag and would have paid extra for that service, but it's Vegas--cart golf. The cart and forecaddie is included in the $500 green fee, as are complimentary water and gatorade in the cooler. You'll have to pay for your own alcohol and food though, available at the turn (no cart girls). And yes, they've relaxed their policy on Wynn only guests, so you can stay at the local Motel 6 and still get a tee time.
I played the foreward tees at about 6,500 yards. I would have guessed it played shorter (elevation, temperature, etc.) but it actually plays longer, at least today. The wind was gusting and more often than not hurting. Easily 2-3 club wind on several holes on the front. The yardage is also deceiving because it's a par 70, so virtually all the par 4s were 400+ yards. For high/mid handicaps who don't consistently hit their drives 250+ yards, it makes for long approach shots. Between the wind and the long par 4s I was hitting hybrids in all day. Unfortunately, there's not enough land to build more tee boxes. On a windy day like today, something around 6,000 yards would have been more enoyable for me, a short-hitting mid-handicap.
The course is in very good condition. Tee boxes were flat and closely mowed. Everything is closely mowed--virtually no rough. From that perspective, the course is easy and forgiving. This ain't Torrey Pines.
What makes the course challenging is the undulating, rolling fairwways and the deep bunkers. After a nervous start, I dialed in my driver and was probably 11 out of 15 fairways. But even in the fairway, there was just enough of an uneven lie to make things interesting. Reminds me a bit of Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz in this regards. A few holes were I was choking up a good 5-6 inches because my ball just happened to land in the wrong spot.
The Wynn's other defense is its deep bunkering. For high/mid handicap players sandtraps are already challenging enough. Add to that 8 feet deep bunkers and things get tough very quickly. At least 3 times I was in a bunker were I couldn't see the surface of the green. You really need to open up your wedge and just hit it hard. Easier said than done. In hindsight, I probably would have been better off if I laid up on all the par 4s. Missed short 5 yards or pin high right 5 yards, and I'm in the bunker in a world of hurt. But short 30 yards and it's a relatively routine pitch and putt. Or at least it takes double bogey out of the picture.
The greens are nice. Not too fast, not too slow. Not too tricky to read either. Didn't really need the caddie's help in reading the greens. In fact, made more 10+ feet putts today than any round on my home course.
The layout of the course itself is nothing special. The par 4s are kind of blah, felt all the same. A couple of the par 3s were scenic, with forced water carry. Overall, the course is just too artifical/fake for me to rate it highly in the bigger picture. But, as I said, this is Vegas, where everything is artifical and fake.
What you get with the Wynn is playing golf right smack in the middle of the Las Vegas strip. You're paying for the wow factor. Look, to the right, it's the Wynn hotel, to the left, it's the Stratosphere. Look, there's a huge, gaudy and completely irrelevant waterfall on the 18th hole.
Contrary to some reviews, what you don't get is seclusion. The course was packed. Not muni packed but there were plenty of groups out there. Maybe it was the holiday weekend? The caddie said it's unpredictable. He's had days when it's less than 10 groups out and days (like today) when there's no tee times left.
Would I recommend the Wynn Golf Course? Objectively, no. For $500 I'd take my money to Pebble Beach and enjoy a real, natural, majestic course with a grand history. But, if you are in Las Vegas, why not. It's still cheaper than gambling. Dollars per hour, it's about the same as a fancy steak dinner with wine. For good or bad, you won't soon forget what it's like to play on the Las Vegas Strip.