Home » Feature Story

Golf Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley on three budgets

Judd SpicerBy Judd Spicer,
La Quinta Resort - Mountain Course
View large image
| More photos
On a high-end budget, don't miss the Pete-Dye designed Mountain Course at La Quinta Resort. (Courtesy of La Quinta Resort & Club)

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Sporting a diverse playing terrain and serving as annual host to both the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge (formerly the Bob Hope Classic) and the LPGA's first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship -- the Coachella Valley charts among the country's most unique golf pockets.

Here's a breakdown of how to plan your Palm Springs golf trip on three different budgets:

Coachella Valley golf on a high-end budget

The desert "high season" refers to more than just the flock of snowbirds taking a winter respite. In short: If making the travel, be prepared to flip more than a C-note when making peak tee times at the area's deservedly-lauded top golf vacation destinations.

Any high-end trip to the Coachella Valley should begin at PGA West and the La Quinta Resort & Club. With five public (and nine total) courses offered by the umbrella ownership, the "Western Home of Golf in America" presents an all-star cast of course designers.

Begin at the La Quinta Resort's Mountain Course. The back nine of the Pete Dye design is routed through some of the region's most inspired mountain terrain and presents an idyllic mesh of challenge, beauty and solitude.

Segue to PGA West's Greg Norman Course. This quiet desert gem sports a unique dearth of turf, carved by the surrounds of decomposed granite. Prepped for an advanced test, finish with the PGA West's TPC Stadium Course. Annually regarded among the best and toughest courses in the country, the Dye design poses as many adventures to annual Q-School finals visitors as it does to the amateur.

In the Mid-Valley, keep the pressure on at the Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert. Nick Faldo's debut domestic design is a monster on the front, and it will challenge throughout with Australian Sandbelt-inspired bunkering and a host of tough approaches. Also in Palm Desert is the Classic Club. A former host to the Hope Classic and offering one of the state's finest clubhouses, the stout course couples a challenge with ample nature sightings and a host of goodies that come with the price tag.

Both the Mountain View Course and the Firecliff Course at Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert are exceptional and echo the class and care of the choice clubhouse. If the plan is to play 36 holes of these immaculate course conditions, start with the former before moving on to the more demanding Firecliff.

Minutes away are the dual courses at Indian Wells Golf Resort. Among the most polished operations in the area, the scene is impressive from the moment you pull up to the clubhouse. Both the Celebrity Course and the Players Course impress with beauty and challenge.

On the east end of the Valley, check out the Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course. The very playable, tree-lined fairways and palm-framed greens present a chance to employ mid-iron skills that will find the accurate heading home with a scorecard sure to lower the handicap.

Coachella Valley golf on a mid-range budget

Dipping below the $100 mark doesn't translate to a dramatic descent in quality.

Don't miss out on The Golf Club at Terra Lago's North Course in Indio. While the facility's South Course charts as the tougher track on these grounds, the North counts among the top values in the region. The coupling of rustic surrounds and resort-style closing water holes create an experience matching memorability with playability.

The Santa Rosa Course and the San Gorgonio Course at Mountain Vista Golf Club are a pair of Billy Casper creations in Palm's Desert's Sun City community that are certain to appease with wide and well-groomed fairways and no shortage of holes to keep you honest.

In Desert Hot Springs, get major bang for the dollar at Desert Dunes Golf Club. Host to the Canadian Tour's annual Desert Dunes Classic, the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design is a thesis in tranquility and nature. A windy day will serve as a name course defense, though a calm round will offer myriad scoring chances.

Coachella Valley golf on a valley budget

Deals are tough to pencil in for top courses at peak hours during a high-season visit, but don't overlook some sound value options. Many of these babies were crafted during a late-80s boom, but they still maintain relevance and won't dent the wallet above the $65 mark.

At Mission Lake Country Club in Desert Hot Springs, enjoy a design of the desert's most prolific hand, Ted Robinson, Sr., also known as "The King of Waterscapes."

In Palm Springs, Cimarron Golf Resort's Boulder Course (18 holes) and Pebble Course (nine holes) are dual John Fought designs that play over some of the Valley's most unique, untamed terrain.

Nearby is Mesquite Golf & Country Club, where ample tree-lining, mountain vistas and water play will make a fine desert impression.

Woodhaven Country Club in Palm Desert plays with entertaining ease, but it will grab the collar with a handful of risk-reward holes.

More photos

The Golf Club at Terra Lago - North Course - 8thCimarron Golf Resort

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.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • actually low season

    Sam Jack wrote on: Jan 5, 2013

    I am thinking about coming to golf in beginning of April 2013 and would like to know if this low season? mid season? trying to figure out how much courses will cost.
    eg. woodhaven of catheral canyon an idea.
    Thanks Sam


  • Video Content

    Alan Hunter wrote on: Mar 6, 2012

    For anyone interested we have several golf course video overviews for several valley courses, including Classic Club and both Cimarron courses @ http://www.cyberlinksgolf.com/palm-springs-golf-courses.htm.
    Oh by the way Judd the Pebble course does boast 18-holes.


  • Golf with connections

    David G wrote on: Feb 8, 2012

    Any chance of writing about The best courses no matter the access or budget? Like Bighorn, Heritage Palms or The Palmer Course.


  • Cimarron

    walter bolen wrote on: Feb 1, 2012

    The Pebble course at Cimarron is actualy an 18 hole
    executive style course with a variety of tee box placements to sharpen your short game and is great for those just learning the game.


  • Palm Springs golf

    57charlie wrote on: Jan 26, 2012

    Just got back from a winter golf break in the Palm Springs area. Golfed a round at Escena GC & although the course was in pristine condition, I was very disappointed that it took 5 hrs to finish the round. Our group waited pretty well on every teebox. I cancelled every tee time I had made at other Palm Springs courses and made the drive west every day to the Riverside, CA area. What a pleasent surprise. Oak Valley GC, Oak Quarry GC and both courses at Tukwet Canyon GC. There are plenty of challenging courses an hour west of Palm Springs that provide better value and I guarantee you'll get through your round in 4 hrs or less.


  • judd spicer @ coachella valley

    Chuck Lennon wrote on: Jan 24, 2012

    hey judd. writing from your native Minnesota, boy do YOU have a good job.
    Explore Minnesota Golf dot com


  • Save $ w/Stand-By Golf

    Karen Misuraca wrote on: Jan 24, 2012

    How about Stand-by Golf? Significant discounts on some of the top courses in the area--call at the end of every day to get tee times for next day. Can't beat it!
    I don't work for Stand-by Golf or even know them but have used their service countless times.


Comments Leave a comment