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|Escena Golf Club welcomes golfers of all skill levels. (Courtesy of Escena G.C.)|
You are driving from the Los Angeles area to play the golf courses in Palm Springs, Calif.. Midway through the trip, roll down the car windows and get an idea of what it's like to sit in the middle of a furnace.
Let's face it: Palm Springs is hot. Not an East Coast, 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity hot, but hot nonetheless. Still, it's the type of heat that allows for golfing - head out early, stay hydrated and you can have the round of your life. While the heat can be scorching, so can Palm Springs' golf courses.
Tool around Palm Springs and you might do a double take. This is one green town, where golf courses stand out against the desert. This is a golf destination with some of the greenest, best manicured courses you'll find in all of the California (a state rich in golf courses), and golf clubs here take the beauty of their courses seriously.
So while Palm Springs is definitely hot, so is its golf. Here's a look at some Palm Springs golf courses that will have you feeling as though you're in a tropical locale.
There is nary a palm tree at Escena Golf Club, but plenty of shocking white bunkers flanking well conditioned, lush fairways. These delightfully wide fairways welcome golfers of all skills: a low-handicap golfer can let it rip on Escena's 611-yard first hole, and the duffer can enjoy a day in the sun without fear of losing a fortune in golf balls.
"There are no forced carries," Escena General Manager Jeff Sauvage says. "You can dribble them off the tee as a 25 handicapper and not lose a ball."
But don't think this is a course ready to be eaten up. The par 5s are tempting but dangerous to the player who enjoys taking risks, and four of the five par 3s on the course reach nearly 200 yards.
The Gary Player Signature Course at Westin Mission Hills Resort is everything you would expect from the legendary Player. This is a golf course that will literally blow you away and have you feeling like you're spending a day in the dry-heat region of Hawaii, so shockingly green are the fairways.
"(The course) is so lush, so perfectly conditioned it could leave Martha Stewart gasping in green-thumb envy," Chris Baldwin wrote at GolfCalifornia.com. "And yes, they're a little obsessed about it."
The course has a deceptive 131 slope rating from the tips and plays to 7,062 yards. It's deceptive because unlike his famous peer and competitor Jack Nicklaus, Player doesn't often lay out his courses to destroy middling golfers. This is a run where good shots are rewarded, and if you can keep your eye on the ball and not on the immaculate conditions, it's the kind of place you can leave with a career-best score.
You can tell Indian Springs Golf Club is immaculate the moment you call to reserve a tee time: the pro shop answers the phone, literally, "Immaculate Indian Springs Golf Club."
Indian Springs has been around for a while now, and has seen its share of rough times in the Coachella Valley. Now it is the centerpiece of a large housing development, and the golf course is taking pride in its brilliant conditions and giving players a solid round of golf for green fees that generally lag well under the $100 mark, which can be a rarity in the often pricey Palm Springs area.
"It's fun," said General Manager Neil Finch. "People are playing on a course in good condition, having a great time. When they're done, they usually ask if we have anything the day after tomorrow.
March 22, 2007
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
Atlantic City's gleaming flashy casino hotels stand tall against the sky while its historic boardwalk continues to draw visitors eager to experience the salt air, the sea and the energy. People come to Atlantic City to roll the dice, dig into a White House Sub and yes, play golf on more than 20 courses. And just like blackjack or poker, you have choices. Katharine Dyson offers up her top-five must-play courses.
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