10 Must-Play Public Golf Venues

Coachella Valley courses stand primed for high season



Hole No. 17 of the Pete Dye–designed TPC Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta.

Courtesy of PGA West

Emerging from one of the most lauded overseed seasons in recent memory, the desert’s wealth of premier golf courses is ready to roll for the high season.

“Palm Springs is the place to be in Southern California this time of year,” says Colin Gooch, head golf professional at Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert. “Our owners and guests have been raving about golf course conditions, so we are very much looking forward to a great season.”

For avid players and nascent ball-strikers alike, here are 10 public golf venues not to be missed.

Classic Club
Among the desert’s most impressive expanses of golf, the Arnold Palmer design and former Hope host is a true championship course. The grandeur of the Audubon-certified grounds present ample distance for the scratch player, while mid-to-high handicappers will be assuaged by taking in the wealth of plantings and water features. 75200 Classic Club Blvd., Palm Desert. 760-601-3600; www.classicclubgolf.com

Desert Willow Golf Resort
With exceptional desert routing, both the Mountain View and Firecliff courses count among the most beatified tracks in the entire state. Start with the more forgiving Mountain View before graduating to the ample demands of forced carry and cagey greens of the Firecliff. 38995 Desert Willow Dr., Palm Desert. 760-346-7060; desertwillow.com

Eagle Falls Golf Course
It’s no gamble that the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino course proves among the top plays on the east end of the valley. With engaging undulation and game elevation, the Clive Clark design is the area’s newest course and has earned deserved turf cred in short time. 84245 Indio Springs Dr., Indio. 760-238-5633; www.eaglefallsgolf.com

Escena Golf Club
The area’s most alluring clubhouse extends to a track from Jack Nicklaus Design that sports a host of burly par-3s and manageable par-5s to match with wide landing areas and sizable though well-guarded greens. 1100 Clubhouse View, Palm Springs. 760-778-2737; escenagolf.com

Indian Wells Golf Resort
Both the John Fought–designed Players Course and Clive Clark–crafted Celebrity Course prove can’t-miss plays. With bountiful stimuli extending from clubhouse to course, ensure a steady lid when taking on the taut bunkering and required distance presented by the more demanding Players. 44500 Indian Wells Ln., Indian Wells. 760-346-4653; www.indianwellsgolfresort.com

La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA West
Home to five superb public plays, the “Western Home of Golf in America” presents options for all levels of players and pleasure-seekers. The Pete Dye–drawn Mountain Course is ideal for guests pursuing desert awe, while the Greg Norman Course provides some of the area’s sweetest solitude. Low-handicappers aiming to test their games should tee sheet either the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course or Dye’s nuanced TPC Stadium Course, revered among the toughest tracks in the country. La Quinta Resort, 49999 Eisenhower Dr., La Quinta. 760-564-4111; www.laquintaresort.com. PGA West, 56150 PGA Blvd., La Quinta. 760-564-7101; www.pgawest.com

Marriott’s Shadow Ridge
Nick Faldo’s first domestic course design is complemented by one of the valley’s premier practice facilities, along with the aptly lauded on-site Marriott Golf Academy and Golf Fitting Studio. 9002 Shadow Ridge Rd., Palm Desert. 760-674-2700; www.golfshadowridge.com

Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
Twenty-seven holes of Ted Robinson–designed play spread across one of the desert’s favorite resort properties, which serves as an excellent desert welcome for visiting players or returning snowbirds. The grounds prove perfect for iron and wedge refinement throughout, while the West Course’s opening stretch is sure to test the entire bag. 41000 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage. 760-568-2727; www.rancholaspalmas.com

SilverRock Resort
Among the longest tracks in all of Southern California at 7,600 yards from the tips, the onetime Hope host is brilliantly wound along the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains to create a vivid experience, no matter one’s length off the tee. 79179 Ahmanson Ln., La Quinta. 760-777-8884; www.silverrock.org

Westin Mission Hills
Dual Pete Dye and Gary Player designs pair perfectly for weekenders, with the latter, “Black Knight” play proving one of the most underrated courses in all of SoCal. 71333 Dinah Shore Dr., Rancho Mirage. 760-328-3198; www.playmissionhills.com
 

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