A Caddy's Life: Clayton Miyata Walks with the Rich and Famous
LAS VEGAS, NV - Oh, the stories he could tell.
Clayton Miyata is the lead caddie at Shadow Creek Golf Club, a Tom Fazio designed masterpiece located just 20 minutes from the Vegas Strip. Only a gaudy bankroll at the MGM Mirage or $500 will get you on for a round of golf. Most days, the tee sheet at Shadow Creek reads like a who's who list of celebrities.
Miyata has looped for James Woods and Joe Pesci. Other members of his staff have carried the clubs for the likes of Michael Jordan, Reggie Jackson, Michael Douglas, George Clooney.
But Miyata and his crew are the keepers of the code. What happens on the course stays on the course. Caddies, after all, are the ultimate gentlemen, and if your secret isn't safe with them, then whom can you trust?
"The celebrities that play here are just out to have fun," Miyata says. "They tell some stories, but mostly they just want help with their yardages and a little advice."
Before he came out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards, Jordan would play Shadow Creek three or four times a year. According to Miyata, his airness holds the celebrity course record, and is one of the longest recreational golfers in the game.
But as far as Jordan's legendary golf wagers, Miyata is as tight lipped as a clam.
"I never caddied for him, but the other guys don't talk about it," he says. "He dresses nice, hits the ball a long way, and enjoys a cigar and a beer here and there. That is all we're saying."
Miyata has carried the bag for actor Joe Pesci, who has made quite a name for himself in celebrity golf tournaments.
"Joe is a legitimate ten handicap," Miyata says. "He has a really funny swing, but he is a good stick."
You can almost hear Pesci now: "Funny swing? What do you mean funny? Funny like a clown? What, do I amuse you?"
Miyata says that yes, Pesci talks a mile a minute, but most of the time he is just mumbling to himself.
"He doesn't really tell many stories, the guy just talks constantly."
The course record goes to Jordan, and the course jester award to Pesci, but Miyata says that two celebs stand out as Shadow Creeks' most die-hard players.
"Matt Damon and George Clooney were out here every day for a month when they were shooting Ocean 11 here," he says.
Damon (pictured above, with Robert Redford) got hooked on the game while filming "The Legend of Bagger Vance," a story of a downtrodden golfer and his mystical caddy. Miyata says that Damon seems to take the game much less seriously than he did during the filming of Bagger. Most days, Mr. Goodwill Hunting shot his usual round in the high 90's or low 100's while cutting up with Clooney on the course.
"Matt just goes out and has fun with his friends," Miyata says. "Clooney is the same way, he just wants to be with his friends. Matt and George got to be good friends out here. That is what it was all about."
As for Miyata's favorite gig, the head looper says that he would work for actor James Woods again, anytime.
"James is an awesome guy, maybe the nicest fella I have ever met," Miyata says. "He is a horrible golfer, but he knows that he is not very good. But he is courteous, and he treats you like a friend."
What more can you ask for?
Shadow Creek is unlike any course in Las Vegas, or the entire state of Nevada for that matter. Huge pine trees line the fairways, crystal clear lakes and streams dot the fairways, and on a busy day, you might see 30 other golfers.
Miyata says that the course holds a certain mystique around Vegas, because of its exclusivity. There was a time that you had to spend the gross domestic product of a lesser-developed country at the Mirage just to get a tee time.
Now they are also doled out on a limited basis for $500.
Shadow Creek is vintage Fazio, from the sculpted tee boxes to the dramatic green complexes. In true Vegas fashion, Shadow Creek was built from the ground up on a flat, desolate piece of land. Course highlights include:
The par-3 seventeen that plays from 160 to 130. The hole features an island green with a waterfall in the back. Sixteen is a behemoth par 5 that measures 617 yards from the back of the bus. The hole doglegs right and features an elevated tee box. No. 15 is Shadow Creek's signature hole, a par 4 in which players hit back into the mountains. A creek runs down the left side of the hole and across the green.
February 5, 2002