Following my blog about Pebble Beach and the Monterey Peninsula being Golfing Heaven, I have since been inundated from various regions claiming that no, they are really golfing heaven.
Regions from the Scottish Highlands, Ireland, Hawaii, Florida, Las Vegas, South Africa, Australia & New Zealand all disputing my story and adamant that they offer better golf at much more affordable pricing.
So we launched a detailed investigation and have found that their comments about pricing to be true and that they all have some legitimate claims ( more Blogs about these regions later ), but they all seem to be ignorant of one other region that certainly has far more quality Golf Courses and Resorts both per capita and per square kilometre than any other place on Earth, or that anyone could possibly imagine – yes I am talking about Palm Springs, California.
If you are an avid Golfer and have not been to Palm Springs, then you must immediately add it to your Bucket List and get there as soon as possible.
The Coachella Valley
The area should really be called The Coachella Valley as it encompasses the settlements of –
- Palm Springs
- Cathedral City
- Indian Wells
- Palm Desert
- La Quinta
- Rancho Mirage
But is generally just referred to as Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is truly a Desert Oasis, located 120 miles and 1 ½ hours drive East of Los Angeles, it has been a Mecca for Celebrities, VIP’s and Movies Stars for nearly one hundred years, who started to flock to the area for it’s Hot Springs and Golf Courses.
They became familiar with the area when it started to become used frequently for making Movies, especially Westerns. It’s fine weather and sparse population, made it ideal.
The A – Listers who have had homes in the Valley is amazing –
- Frank Sinatra
- Dean Martin
- Sammy Davis Jnr
- Bob Hope
- Bing Crosby
- Cary Grant
- Ronald Reagan
- Dinah Shore
- Steve McQueen
And more recently –
- Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn
- Leonardo DiCaprio – bought Dinah Shores home
- Barry Manilow
- Sonny Bono – who also became Mayor
Many of the Movie Stars of the 40’s and 50’s were very avid golfers and so helped develop the regions absolute passion for Golf and some like Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope started large regular Golf Tournaments there.
The area was first settled some 2000 years ago by the Cahuilla Indians due to its abundance of underground water as well as it’s Hot Springs and referred to the area as Se – Khi or Boiling Water, which were very useful during the cold winters.
A number of the current Hotels have tapped into these mineral rich Hot Springs and utilise the waters for their Pool and Spa areas.
It is surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountains to the West and the Santa Rosa Mountains to the South and both climb to over 8’000 feet with permanent snow year round and heavy snow during the Winter months.
Consequently the vegetation is much different than the valley floor with many Ponderosa Pine trees, plus Red and White Firs.
A cable car trip to the top provides a wonderful day trip with lunch available in the restaurant at San Jacinto, but be sure to take a jacket.
The area was part of Mexico initially and was explored in 1821 before being ceded to the United States in 1848.
I have been very fortunate to have travelled to Palm Springs on many occasions and have played many of the Golf Courses there.
The population is usually around 200,000, but swells to over 500,000 during the cooler winter months. It can be expensive during the Winter, but offers excellent value for money specials during the hot summer months.
Whilst the temperature is hot during summer, it is certainly not as hot as what we experience in Australia, say Adelaide and Perth and for us, quite bearable.
It is an interesting place to visit with many excellent Restaurants and Bars and the shopping areas at El Paseo, Desert Hills factory Outlets and the Westfield Mall.
But it is the Golf which draws so many International visitors.
Golf Course Resorts
There are simply far too many great Golf Courses to mention, but you would be well satisfied with the following outstanding offerings.
- PGA West – a truly outstanding Golf development which offers 6 courses in total , 3 of them are Private ( Arnold Palmer / Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf ) but the other 3 are Public and available to play.Of these the Pete Dye Stadium course is visually stunning.It is always some distance from the Green to the next tee, which always seemed to be around a blind turn, only to open up another outstanding vista, they seemed to get better with every hole, absolutely memorable.The other 2, designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman are also wonderful, one of the greatest golf resorts that you will ever visit.
- La Quinta Resort – 2 courses, The Mountain and the Dunes, both by Pete Dye
- Indian Wells Golf Resort – which boasts 4 excellent Hotels – The Hyatt Regency, Miramonte, Renaissance and Indian Wells plus 2 wonderful courses, The Celebrity by Clive Clark and The Players by John Fought
- Marriott Desert Springs – a large, lovely and well located Resort which also has 2 Courses, The Palm and The Valley both designed by Ted Robinson Jnr
I can’t think of PGA West without recalling the day our group arrived early to play the Pete Dye Stadium Course. One of our party always a snappy dresser arrived with a Mail Box Red Golf shirt, white shorts, matching red socks and white golf shoes.
On going up to the counter to get some golf balls, the Golf Pro looked at him stepped back with his arms wide open and said “ excuse me sir, but does that outfit come with batteries “ we all fell about laughing, still makes me smile.
One thing to remember however, it is wise to have your own transport and drive from Los Angeles, Taxis are infrequent and expensive as the area is very spread out. So having your own transport is really valuable for all of your Golf, Dining and Shopping.
Apart from the Golf Resorts above the other Golf Courses that are highly recommended are –
- The Classic Club by Arnold Palmer
- Escena by Jack Nicklaus
- Silver Rock by Arnold Palmer
- Shadow Ridge by Nick Faldo
- Desert Willow – 2 courses, Firecliff and Mountain, both by Michael Hurdzon and Dana Fry
- Mission Hills by Gary Player
One of the really amazing things that you will see in Palm Springs, is where the watering and irrigation stops, the lush green Golf Courses and vegetation became absolute desert within 2 feet, similar to what you see in Dubai and the Middle East.
If you come back from Palm Springs and are not completely overwhelmed by how great the Golf experience is, then you are very very hard indeed to please.
Australians find the heat of the Palm Springs summer relatively easy to tolerate, especially with wind helping to cool you down when driving in the Golf Cart, with the discounted rates offered during that time also extremely attractive.
So if you love your Golf and you also enjoy travelling, then don’t hesitate, make sure you get there as soon as possible, you will not be disappointed.