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Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course: A perfect first for a Palm Springs-area golf vacation

Judd SpicerBy Judd Spicer,
Indian Canyons resort - South Course - hole 18
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Heading to Palm Springs? Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course makes a great first play. (Courtesy of Indian Canyons Golf Resort)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Should a group partner say, "You're playing like a girl" on the grounds of the Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course, take it like a compliment.

Given the exceptionally playable layout of this track, it will come as little surprise that LPGA Hall of Famer Amy Alcott served as design consultant to architect Casey O'Callaghan when the venerable Canyons South Course enjoyed a thorough makeover in 2004.

The result is a round that's aptly lauded as being among the top playing experiences for ladies in the country.

Not that the fellas won't enjoy the South as well.

With more than 800 palm trees, a dearth of residences and a continuous mountain backdrop, the golf course has enough character to mirror the host of politicos (President Lyndon Johnson) and celebs (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Jack Benny) who long frequented the neighboring Indian Canyons North Course across the street back in the 1960s.

"It's very player friendly, and aesthetically it's beautiful," says Charles DeLorey, the marketing and event manager at Indian Canyons.

Coupled with the San Jacinto Mountain surrounds is the astute use of flora for framing and depth perception. Among the 850 palms are 500 of the Washingtonia filifera variety, which are a sacred tree to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians that own the grounds. And much like the uniquely bearded filifera served the Cahuilla toward a multitude of ends, the course they line today finds they player enjoying a myriad of choices while making use of the entire bag of tools.

"It was very appealing visually, with beautiful conditions and really well manicured," says Ryan Malone, an 11-handicapper from Los Angeles. "A lot of the approach shots just look fantastic."

Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course: Short on distance, long on variety

A mere 4,878 yards from the forward tees (and 6,582 from the tips), a dearth of distance is usurped by an attractive wealth of variety.

"For a while, designers were building golf courses that were so hard for everybody it wasn't fun," says DeLorey.

With five par 5s (bookended on Nos. 1 and 5) and five par 3s, the South is truly engaging throughout. The course protects itself from the longer hitter with well placed fairway bunkering, but the shorter player will find consistent clemency from the tee.

"There are mounds between the fairways, so if you stray a little bit, the ball is going to check a bit back towards the fairway," DeLorey says. "It's a bit more forgiving to the high-handicapper -- they're not out there just getting beat up for four hours."

Amid the par 3s and par 5s are a host of manageable par 4s (only No. 17 measures at more than 405 yards) that blend creativity with concerted shot-making choices. The 330-yard fourth features water on the right and bunkering on the left to test accuracy; the hole shares a pond with the 345-yard seventh, which is among the most pleasing holes in the Coachella Valley.

"No. 7 isn't a long par 4, but the water in front of the green makes you think," DeLorey says. "The hole is even for everybody: the long hitter, the short hitter -- we're all hitting to the same spot about 110 yards out. So now you have options. And the green has some undulation to it, so it's not like you can hit a wedge anywhere. You have to hit the right tier."

On the back, the 389-yard par 4 at No. 10 extends the thesis of playability; just be aware that, before you reach the sunken green, the dogleg left can be substantially cut with a steady draw over a fairway bunker on the left side. Equally entertaining par 4s await on Nos. 14 and 15, with the 14th presenting a perfect palm frame for your approach.

"On No. 15, the bunker goes across the fairway and you don't really see all of it from the tee," DeLorey says. "Again, not a super long hole; 3-wood, then 7/8-iron and the green goes around the palm trees. So while your second shot isn't tremendously long, you still have to think and make sure you get it to the correct area of the green."

Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course: The verdict

Without questions, Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course counts among the most enjoyable, player-friendly experiences in the region. Should you be prepping a Palm Springs golf getaway, here's a tip: Play this course first. The South offers a plethora of inspired desert terrain and will instill scoring confidence for the rest of your trip.

GPS is available for rent, but skip the cost. Use the well-marked course and native palms to guide your approaches.

Instruction and facilities at Indian Canyons Golf Resort

Practice facilities include driving range, chipping green and practice putting surface. Instruction is available to players of all levels.

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Indian Canyons Golf Resort - South Course - hole 9Indian Canyons Golf Resort - South Course - 2004 makeoverIndian Canyons Golf Resort - South Course - hole 18

Judd Spicer is an award-winning, veteran freelance writer hailing from St. Paul, Minn. After 12 years of covering MLB, NBA, NCAA and the active golf landscape of the Twin Cities, he relocated to the Palm Spring, Calif. region to further pursue his golf work and Champions Tour dream. Sporting measured distance off the tee, Spicer refers to his pitching wedge as his "magic wand." Follow Judd on Twitter at @juddspicer.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Course review

    OVER THE TOP GOLF wrote on: Nov 8, 2011

    Nice golf spot with great views of the surrounding mountains. Very easygoing staff.
    Please feel free to read my blog at http://overthetopgolf.blogspot.com
    Frankie C


  • Great Article!

    Chuck Norris wrote on: Oct 11, 2011

    I will schedule a trip to this course the next time I am in the area!!