As with everything near Las Vegas, if you want the best public-access golf experience in Nevada – and we use “public access” loosely here – you better be willing and able to pay for it.

The Tom Fazio-designed Shadow Creek in North Las Vegas is No. 1 on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list for the Silver State, but access comes with a handful of caveats. For starters, golfers must stay at an MGM Resorts International hotel, and the green fee is $600. Play is restricted to certain days, with only high rollers taking over the course on other days. How high of a roller? If you have to ask, don’t bother.

But for those with enough bank, it’s a desert oasis – albeit a completely manufactured one. And sorry for that oasis cliché, but there’s really no other way to describe the layout that was host to the 2018 televised Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson match and that now is home to the PGA Tour’s CJ Cup.

Fazio reshaped a flat landscape to open Shadow Creek in 1990, importing plenty of flora to disguise the desert. Over the top in every way, the course ranks No. 11 on Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses list for all layouts built in the U.S. in or after 1960. It is also No. 1 on Golfweek’ Best Casino Courses list, No. 7 on the Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses list and No. 7 on the Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play list in the U.S.

Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses. That includes the popular Best Courses You Can Play list for courses that allow non-member tee times. These generally are defined as courses accessible to resort guests or regular daily-fee players.

Shadow Creek fits that bill, if in a limited way. And it’s not alone in presenting amazing layouts around Vegas – by amazing we mean the desert setting, the hurdles that must be overcome to build in such a severe environment, and the price tag that comes with it.

No. 2 on the Best Courses You Can Play list for Nevada is Cascata in Boulder City, a half-hour drive east of the Strip and on the way to Hoover Dam. Designed by Rees Jones, this fun mountain layout features waterfalls alongside the range and a range of thrilling holes with desert views to match. Peak green fees approach $450, but there are less expensive options on the calendar.

Built in 2000, Cascata also ranks No. 54 on Golfweek’s Best Resort Courses list for the U.S. and No. 77 on the Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play list for the whole country.

Wolf Creek in Mesquite ­­– about an hour and 15 minutes by car northeast of Vegas – ranks No. 3 for public-access golf in Nevada, No. 66 on the Resort Courses list for the U.S. and No. 90 on the Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play list for the whole country.

Edgewood Tahoe near the California border is No. 4 on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play list in Nevada, and Conestoga in Mesquite is No. 5.

Nevada’s Best Courses You Can play list continues its strong play from there, with numerous courses around Las Vegas represented. Plus, Wynn Golf Club just off the strip reopened in 2019 with a see-it-to-believe-it 18th hole that is all Vegas, and it likely will make a reappearance in the state’s rankings soon.

Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Nevada

1. Shadow Creek

North Las Vegas (No. 11 m)

2. Cascata

Boulder City (m)

3. Wolf Creek

Mesquite (m)

4. Edgewood Tahoe

Tahoe (m)

5. Conestoga

Mesquite (m)

6. Reflection Bay at Lake Las Vegas Resort

Henderson (m)

7. Coyote Springs (Chase)

Coyote Springs (m)

8. Incline Village (Championship)

Incline Village (m)

9. Paiute (The Wolf)

Las Vegas (m)

10. Paiute (Sun Mountain)

Las Vegas (m)

11. Rio Secco

Henderson (m)

12. Paiute (Snow Mountain)

Las Vegas (m)

13. TPC Las Vegas

Las Vegas (m)

14. Genoa Lakes (Ranch)

Genoa (m)

15. Bear’s Best GC

Las Vegas (m)

Golfweek’s Best Private Courses in Nevada

Nevada

1. Clear Creek

Tahoe (No. 89 m)

2. Southern Highlands

Las Vegas (m)

3. Montreux

Reno (m)

4. TPC Summerlin

Las Vegas (m)

5. SouthShore

Henderson (m)

(m): modern. (c): classic

Golfweek’s Best 2020: Top 50 Casino Courses

The rankings below reflect where these courses fall among the top 50 Casino Courses in the United States.

1. Shadow Creek, 8.09

North Las Vegas, Nev.; Tom Fazio; 1990

14. Edgewood Tahoe, 6.24

Tahoe, Nev.; George Fazio; 1968

Golfweek’s Best 2020

Top 100 Best Courses You Can Play
Best Courses You Can Play, state by state
Top 200 Modern Courses
Top 200 Classic Courses
Best Private Courses, state by state
Top 30 Campus Courses
Top 50 Casino Courses

How we rate them

The members of our course-ratings panel continually evaluate courses and rate them based on our 10 criteria. They also file a single, overall rating on each course. Those overall ratings on each course are averaged together to produce a final rating for each course. Then each course is ranked against other courses in its state, or nationally, to produce the final rankings.