The final days of the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas appear to be closing fast.
Michael Weaver, Wynn's senior vice president of marketing and communications, has indicated that the course isn't booking tee times past Jan. 1, 2018, and could close sooner. "We anticipate the course closing for development late 2017," he wrote in an email, declining further comment about any exact dates.
The golf course's 137 acres will be used to create "Wynn Paradise Park," a $1.5-billion development approved by Wynn's board of directors in April, according to a CNBC report. Paradise Park's centerpiece will be a 20-plus-acre lagoon with a beach, possibly another hotel tower and casino and extensive dining and nightlife attractions. The elaborate water feature will be used for watersports by day and entertainment by night, such as firework shows and an elaborate Disney-style production much like Fantasmic! at Disney World in Florida.
The Wynn is the third golf course in greater Las Vegas to close within the past several years, joining the 27-hole Badlands Golf Club and the 27-hole Silverstone Golf Club. The pending closure leaves Bali Hai as the best golf option closest to the Strip for public players. The Legacy Golf Club in Henderson closed for awhile but is reopening after members and property owners and a new owner banded to together to save the course.
There has been no recent talk of golf being included within the park. The game has been played on the site since the earliest days of the Las Vegas Strip. The old Desert Inn Golf Club opened in 1952. The mostly flat, featureless course hosted more than 35 professional tournaments before it was blown up in 2001 to make way for Steve Wynn's twin hotel towers, Wynn and Encore, and the Wynn Golf Club. The Tom Fazio design that debuted in 2005 became a symbol of Vegas excess along Las Vegas Boulevard. Its $500 green fee - one of the most expensive in golf - was only for high rollers and serious players.
Fazio, who worked with Steve Wynn in creating another $500 round of golf at Shadow Creek in nearby North Las Vegas, salvaged nearly 1,200 existing trees from the old Desert Inn and brought in nearly 6,000 tree specimens and 100,000 bushes to create a private, intimate experience on each hole. Modern shaping techniques decorated the 7,042-yard par-70 layout with streams, ponds, bunkers and subtle elevation changes. Its most talked-about, and controversial, feature was its roaring waterfall behind the 18th green.
The waterfall and high green fee made the Wynn one of golf's most polarizing courses. I've played it twice, prompting the same question time and again: Is it worth it?
I came to appreciate the whole experience more the second time around. It's kept in mint condition, although a recent three-star review on Golf Advisor indicated that could be changing.
The best part of its design were five riveting par 3s. The food served inside at the Wynn Country Club or on the patio overlooking the 18th green ranks among the best I've had at a golf "clubhouse." In that way, Wynn's commitment to making golfers feel special couldn't be replicated many other places.
Part of me will miss it. Another part of me says it's probably good for the game that such an over-the-top, over-manicured and overly expensive and exclusive club is gone. Golf needs fewer of those.
There is some good news from all of this. If you want one of the few remaining tee times, you can currently book online on GolfNow for as low as $350.