Trying to figure out how many golf courses there are in the Coachella Valley is not as easy a task as one would think. Some e-publications say over 120, others claim there’s more than 125, and one suggested there are at least 130. No matter which one you believe, that’s a lot of golf courses!
Links Magazine called Pam Springs a “Golf Mecca” while a Google request for “best cities to play golf in America” turned up 100 and not a peep about our 120/125/130+ courses. Meanwhile, Pete Dye’s scratching his head about that Google return because he was busy out here. He designed two beauts at La Quinta Resort; the TPC Stadium at PGA West, ranked one of the top 100 designed courses by GOLF Magazine; and one at the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort. Throw in some courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, and Jack Nicklaus and you’re in golfer’s paradise.
Full disclosure: I cannot even hit a golf ball on an Xbox, so my level of skill is zero. But I thrifted some golf clothes and I absolutely look like I know what I’m talking about. Unless those little cute little skorts are for tennis. Either way, swing batter batter…no wait, I think that’s baseball.
Many of our clubs are members only, but there are some terrific public courses here as well:
Indian Canyons Golf Resort: This golf club dates back to 1961, and it’s where Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Dwight D. Eisenhower used to play. There are also two courses: the North Course and — any guesses? — yes! The South Course!
These courses are on Murray Canyon Drive and were formerly part of The Canyon Country Club, which was situated on the corners of South Palm Canyon and Murray Canyon. That club is long gone, but if you wander the corner, look down and squint, you might see it in your mind’s eye. There is still landscaping visible and a long bougainvillea’d upper path you can walk down to the golf shop and bar and grill with a spectacular view of the South Course’s greens and the mountains. But you came here for the golf, so let’s talk about that.
Indian Canyons’ 6,582-yard South Course was remodeled in 2004 by architect Casey O’Callahan with consultation from LPGA legend Amy Alcott. There are four ponds, 850 palms, and 500 Washingtonia filifera, a native palm that is important to the Agua Caliente tribe. The North Course was designed by William F. Bell, son of famed golf course architect William P. Bell. The longer of the two courses, the par-72 North Course plays 6,943 yards. The course is surrounded by mid-century modern homes, including many that were once owned by Walt Disney. There are six water hazards, including a lake with a fountain that shoots spray more than 100 feet into the air.
Book the North Course or South Course here.
Escena Golf Club: A Nicklaus Design golf course, Escena is ranked among the top public courses in California, with unobstructed sightlines and carefully placed bunkers and water hazards. “With back tees stretching to nearly 7,200 yards, Escena offers a formidable test for the skilled player, but with four sets of tees, two additional combo tee options, and room to roam, how you satisfy your personal appetite for challenge is entirely up to you,” the club says. Book tee times here. The Grill has good food and spectacular views.
Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort: This was just rated “One of the Best Places to Play” by Golf Digest, and it has two courses to choose from.
The Resort Course at Tahquitz Creek — Designed by Ted Robinson, this “friendly, yet demanding” desert links-style gold course has beautiful mountain views and scenic waterscapes. Click the link for diagrams and statistics on each hole. Tee times for Resort Course.
The Legend Course at Tahquitz Creek — This William F. Bell-designed country club style golf course has incredible mountain views. Tee times for Legend Course. If you work up an appetite, visit Traditions Cafe for aprés golf.
If you’re downtown, you might notice a golf course behind the Hyatt. That’s the O’Donnell Course and sadly, it’s private. It is, however, the oldest golf course in Palm Springs. Stop by and stare at it for a minute.
With 120/125/130+ golf courses there are clearly many I haven’t mentioned, but the last three are public and are in Palm Springs, close to your preferred small hotel, so you can get in an early game then enjoy some time poolside before you hit the town.