From the air, the Coachella Valley resembles a jigsaw puzzle consisting of more than 2,000 grassy configurations. Put them all together and that number represents the staggering sum of fairways and greens in this California desert playground where the sun shines all day and the stars sparkle all night. Deciding which pieces of the golf maze to play can be a difficult task and then add to that the vast collection of overnight accommodations as your home away from home. Yes, planning a golf getaway to this renowned golf destination can sometimes be intimidating, but well worth the green fee. Here are the best golf courses in the Greater Palm Springs Area.
Feature Photo: Indian Wells Golf Resort by Robert Kaufman
This former host site (2006-08) to the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Chrysler Classic features rolling terrain accented by a core design with pine, olive and pepperwood trees, offset by flowering bushes, shrubs and pine straw ground cover. Despite its desert location with surrounding mountains and vistas of the Coachella Valley, the 7,305-yard Arnold Palmer-designed layout alongside a 63,000-square-foot Tuscan Village-inspired clubhouse does not have the feel of a desert track given the multitude of trees and water on many holes.
Desert Springs Resort
The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is home to two Ted Robinson-designed 18-hole championship golf courses framed by the Santa Rosa Mountains. The Palm (6,761 yards) and Valley (6,627 yards) golf courses feature 35 acres of shimmering streams, lakes and waterfalls, as well as pot bunkers and large, sweeping sand traps. Also onsite is an 18-hole all-natural turf putting course, complete with contoured fairways, sand traps, lakes, streams and waterfalls.
Desert Willow Golf Resort
Two of Coachella Valley’s premium courses, designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, test golfer’s skills with a desert experience beginning with a mile-long approach through a beautifully manicured landscape setting the stage for what is about to unfold. The 7,056-yard Firecliff course, which is more challenging, requires golfers negotiate their way around extensive natural areas, numerous water features and more than 100 bunkers. The 6,913-yard Mountain View course was designed with more forgiving fairways and limited desert waste area.
Escena Golf Club
Bordering the towering San Jacinto Mountains, this Nicklaus Design golf course is noted for its unobstructed sightlines, generous driving corridors accentuated by palm trees, native desert landscaping, strategically-placed bunkers and dramatic waterscapes. As you wind your way through this stunning oasis with back tees stretching to nearly 7,200 yards, Escena offers four sets of tees offering a formidable test for players of all skill levels.
Indian Wells Golf Resort
This 36-hole resort, consisting of the John Fought-designed Players Course (7,376 yards) and the Clive Clark-designed Celebrity Course (7,050 yards), showcases two courses ranked in Golfweek’s “Top 20 Public Access Courses.” Different in design but similar in character, both layouts share jaw-dropping views for golfers and those who watched the 15th season of Golf Channel’s “Big Break.” Also on property is a 53,000-square-foot clubhouse and Shots In The Night featuring an after-dark putting experience and Glow Golf Range.
Mountain Course at La Quinta Resort & Club
Part of the PGA WEST collection, The Mountain Course (1981), nestled at the base of the picturesque Santa Rosa Mountains, is famed for its Pete Dye design, playability and stunning visuals. This 6,666-yard course features pot bunkers, rock formations and well-bunkered greens. From the top of the elevated tee box of the signature 16th hole, golfers are treated to a majestic panoramic view of the course, named one of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 You Can Play.”
Pete Dye Resort Course
Located at Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa, the Pete Dye Resort Course has been described by some as “potentially diabolical, yet indescribably playable.” Ranked by Golf Digest as one of the “Top 50 Golf Resorts in North America,” the 6,706-yard layout is set among beautiful rolling hills with spectacular sights of the surrounding desert mountains and Dye’s legendary trademark carries over water.
Stadium Course at PGA West
Of the 109 holes of championship golf on six legendary courses at PGA West, the Stadium Course (1986) is, typically, top of mind. Designed by Pete Dye as one the toughest golf challenges in the world, the 7,300-yard layout hosts the PGA Tour “Q-School” Finals every other year. Golfer’s must navigate the island green of hole #17, known as “Alcatraz” and the menacing water-lined 18th as they end their golfing journey.
The quintessential desert resort golf experience and the City of La Quinta’s first municipal course, SilverRock Resort is a challenging 7,239 yards sprawling over 200 acres with massive native bunkers and stunning water features. The Arnold Palmer design, set against the backdrop and natural beauty of the Santa Rosa Mountains, is a former host course of the PGA TOUR’s Bob Hope Classic from 2008 to 2011.
Tahquitz Creek Resort Course
Within ten minutes from Palm Springs International Airport and downtown night life and hotels in Palm Springs, Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort offers two championship golf courses with the San Jacinto Mountain as a backdrop. The Resort Course, at 6,705 yards is a classic Ted Robinson-designed links-style course with beautiful waterscapes and undulated greens. The 6,815-yard Legend Course features a more traditional style golf course with tree-lined fairways designed by William F. Bell.