Road Holes — 27 December 2012 by Bob Sherwin
Top Five: California/Palm Springs

Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices. continues its annual assessment of the Top Five courses to play within 12 West Coast states and British Columbia. Today, the 25-part series focuses on: California/Palm Springs. 



DIRECTIONS FROM PALM SPRINGS AIRPORT: Head northwest on E. Tahquitz Canyon Way toward N. El Cielo Rd. Turn left at S. El Cielo Rd, and then left at E. Ramon Rd. Get onto I-10 E and go to the Washington St. exit. Turn right at Washington St. Make a right at Eisenhower Dr. and continue one mile. Resort will be on the right.

PHONE: 800-598-3828

OPENED: 1985 (Architect: Pete Dye)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,756 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: You’re not in the valley here. You’re in and around mountain edges and jutting rock outcroppings. It’s almost impossible to narrow it down to one signature hole.

The second hole, a 205-yard, par-3, the No. 1 handicap hole, grabs your attention with water all along the left side. The back side of the mountain has the most unusual terrain, beginning with holes No. 12 and going through No. 15. You enter a rocky solitude where the only noise you might hear are golf balls clanking off rock.

The par-4 14th offers bunkers that steers toward a dogleg right along the mountain while 15 is a long par-5 with a sizable bunker protecting an elevated green.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 16, par-3, 167 yards. This is the peak of the course, offering an expansive view of the Santa Rosa Cove. It’s not the hardest hole – the 18th handicap – but the view is spectacular.


LOCATION: Palm Springs


Indian Canyons, South Course

DIRECTIONS FROM PALM SPRINGS: The course is just two miles south of the city. Take I-10 south to Hwy 111, which becomes Palm Canyon Dr. and the road divides. Turn left on Murray Canyon Dr. Proceed one mile. Course in on the right.

PHONE: 760-327-6550

OPENED:2004 (Architect: Casey O’Callaghan)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,582 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Sitting in the sheltered valley among the San Jacinto Mountains, there are gorgeous views all around. Four large lakes come into play for six holes. There are also more than 850 palm trees to avoid.

It’s not exceptionally long for a desert course, but there are five par-5s. Precise shots are important, as straying left or right can result in long trouble. There is also the sister 6,943-yard North Course.

It is considered one of the more accommodating courses for women in the country, extending 4,878 yards.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 16, par-4, 345 yards. The tough shot here is always going to be your approach to the green. You have to clear a water hazard in front but, if you fly too far, there’s water behind. Plus there are two bunkers, one in front and one on the right. The farther your tee shot the less of an issue you’re going to have.


LOCATION: Desert Hot Springs

DIRECTIONS FROM PALM DESERT: Take I-10 west to Palm Dr. exit. Go north on Palm Dr. The course is on the right-hand side.


Dusk at Desert Dunes

PHONE: 760-251-5370

OPENED:1989 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 6,876 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: It’s a links-style course, lush fairways bordered by thick layers of natural grasses. The course winds through natural sand dunes, with significant elevation changes, and fast, sloping greens.

There are water hazards, strategically-placed bunkers and narrow landing areas. All around are dramatic mountain views and plenty of wildlife cutting through the course, roadrunners, bobcats and desert kit fox. More than 500 yards was added to the layout, 20 new tee boxes were built and the first and 15th holes were redesigned.

SIGNATURE HOLE: Combination of No. 9, par-5, 546 yards, and No. 18, par-4, 443 yards. A ample sized bunker sits in the middle of a unique double green for the ninth and 18th holes. The ninth is a par-5, 546 yards, so the approach generally is going to be from a longer distance.




LOCATION: Palm Desert

DIRECTIONS FROM PALM SPRINGS: Take I-10 south and exit at Cook St. Turn right on Country Club Dr. Course entrance is on the left.

PHONE: 760-346-7060

OPENED:1997 (Architect: Dr. Michael Hurdzan)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,056 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Almost every hole has a waste area to carry off the tee. The lengths vary from hole to hole but you’ll also find that the landing area, at times, can be small.

It’s a combination of lush fairways and desert terrain. That desert pops up when you hit short off the tee or wander left and right. Then add water. It comes into play in at least half the holes. Then add more than 100 bunkers.

It has been selected the best public access course by Desert Golf Magazine for the past three years. There is also the 6,913-yard sister course, Mountain View.

SIGNATURE HOLE:No. 18, par-5, 536 yards. It takes three precise shots to get close to the pin. Your drive has to clear a waste area beyond the tee box. Then you have to deal with a small creek running across the fairway about 400 yards out. Your approach to the green has to avoid water in front and right and a bunker right and beyond.


LOCATION:Palm Springs

DIRECTIONS FROM PALM SPRINGS: Take I-10 south and exit at Palm Dr. Turn right and left and Vista Chino. Then a right on Clubhouse View Dr. and enter the course.



PHONE: 760-778-2737

OPENED: 2009 (Architect: Jack Nicklaus)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check web site:

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,211 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: This is the new kid on the block – 2009 – in a region known for plenty of quality golf courses. But when Jack Nicklaus gets involved, his designs attract attention.

The wonderful San Jacinto Mountain formed the backdrop to this desert course. Nicklaus uses the natural landscape while mixing in water features and plenty of sand. It’s has been named one of the top 10 public courses in California by

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 1, par-5, 611 yards. Your back better be limber right from the start because Nicklaus sends you off with the longest hole on the course, also the No. 1 handicap hole. Fairway bunkers right and left on the drive. Another on the left as you approach an undulating green. That’s the warmup, as three holes later is the second longest hole, another par-5, followed by a 245-yard par 3.

– Bob Sherwin

TOMORROW: California/Sacramento area


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About Author

Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 53rd year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 19 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur the 2015 U.S. Open and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for Cascade Golfer Magazine and Destination Golfer. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, Aldarra near Seattle. Despite (or perhaps because) of his 14 handicap, he won the 'Super Senior'' (65 and older) championship in 2017. He has a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle.

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