Jason Brewer joined Indian Canyons Golf Resort in 2011 as superintendent of its two golf courses and now oversees the entire complex.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ETHAN KAMINSKY
At least two things stand out about the newly promoted general manager of Indian Canyons Golf Resort.
First, Jason Brewer is among the more experienced hands-on golf course officials in the Coachella Valley, maybe all of Southern California. Second, he has never played a complete round on either the North or South Course. That is surprising because both are among the more desirable courses in what many consider the premier golf destination of Southern California — Palm Springs and its surrounding communities. When the rest of the country gets snowed in, drenched, or blown away with severe winds, play often continues in the Coachella Valley.
Brewer, who took the top job last spring, has been at Indian Canyons Golf Resort since 2011, when he began caring for the two courses as superintendent. As director of golf, he replaced Phil Woodrum, who had replaced a retiring Todd Connelly. Now Brewer is in charge of the entire complex — and brings a style he hopes will carry the course, its image, and its bottom line full speed ahead.
“I’m not a heavy office guy,” Brewer says. “My job is to be out there, with our team empowering and supporting them as well as keeping in touch with our golfers to ensure they have an incredible experience.”
Brewer intends to lean into the history and appeal of the North and South courses.
Most golf course officials — especially those like Brewer who have been involved in every aspect of the game, ranging from course construction to tournament organization, to bunker and fairway and rough management, to green fees and bottom-line results — are also experienced golfers. But, Brewer says, “I have never played a full round at either of the courses here.”
What he does is show up every morning at the break of dawn on the par-three 12th hole on the South Course, take a few swings, and get a feel for the day, for the desirable pin placements dictated by wind and temperature. Then, head golf pro Kevin Ritter and greenskeeper Jesse Rios can finish the day’s setup.
Brewer, 53, grew up in Arizona and at age 18 headed to Oregon, where a golf job awaited. He started making $5.20 an hour on the grounds crew at a course in McMinnville. He stayed for four years and then joined well-known PGA Tour pro Peter Jacobsen on a golf course construction project in Salem.
Soon, he was in Tennessee for the construction of one of five Jack Nicklaus layouts called Bear Trace Courses. Brewer was 26 years old when he became course superintendent at Bear Trace Cumberland Mountain — likely one of the youngest course superintendents in the country at the time, especially at a course of Nicklaus quality. He eventually returned to Oregon and took over as superintendent at Cross Creek Course near Salem.
Golf Maintenance Solutions called Brewer to launch the Escena golf course near the Palm Springs International Airport. Connelly was hired as general manager two months later, and they worked together for the next two years. When Connelly moved to Indian Canyons Golf Resort, he invited Brewer to join him.
Mountains protect Indian Canyons Golf Resort from the wind, making it a popular location.
“I had a couple of impressions when I got here,” Brewer says. “I knew the South Course was the popular one, but I took a long look at the North and saw what a classic layout it is.”
Tucked against the mountains south of downtown Palm Springs, Indian Canyons Golf Resort is protected from the harsh winds that blow in the Coachella Valley, adding to the courses’ popularity.
Brewer’s concept is to build on what each course is. “The South should always reflect the classic beautiful landscape it has,” he says. “The North has a history of movie stars and presidents.”
This story originally appeared in Me Yah Whae: The Magazine of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Fall/Winter 2023.