courtesy Indian Canyon Golf Resort

The good news about the immaculate Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells is that if you’re fortunate enough to live within its exclusive gates, outside your window are two golf courses that Jack Nicklaus calls “distinctively challenging, yet playable.” You need not be a rocket scientist to play a round on one of his courses, but, “[I]f you have to think a little, if you’re mentally and physically stimulated, all that does is make you a better golfer,” Nicklaus says. “If I can put in some good shots for good players without fooling the average golfers, I’ve accomplished what everyone needs in a golf course.”

The bad news is that if you don’t live at Toscana, the odds of playing on Nicklaus’ two signature courses are, well, the same as going from greens keeper to Masters Champion. The South Course opened in December 2004; the first nine holes of the North Course opened a year later, with the final nine expected in late 2007. The South Course is all about risk and reward, particularly on the first hole, a 386-yard, par 4 bordered by eight bunkers, or the majestic eighth, a heart-stopping par 5 over water and bunkers, followed by a difficult dogleg.

You want Nicklaus? You’ll have to earn it. The membership for residents is $130,000, plus monthly dues.

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