Echoing the celebrated, 120-course bounty of Greater Palm Springs, the desert has long served as host to some of the world's best players.
In concert with its reputation as a golf haven for snowbirds, daily duffers and resort weekenders, the fairways of the Coachella Valley have hosted tournaments ranging from the Ryder Cup, the former Skins Game, the annual first major championship of the season and nearly six consecutive decades of PGA Tour play.
And while some of these tournament hosts are of the private variety, golf guests in Greater Palm Springs need know that there are no shortage of public plays where one can test his or skills on the same tees and greens challenged by a storied history of touring professionals.
In 2016, the PGA Tour's CareerBuilder Challenge moved two of its three-course rotation to a pair of premier publics at PGA WEST. Long played amid storied clubs -- including two private courses at The Western Home of Golf in America under the historic event's previous Hope and Humana monikers -- the shift to PGA WEST's Stadium and Nicklaus Tournament Courses was a seismic and exciting transition for the golf public.
Long charted as one of the toughest tracks in the West, Pete Dye's rolling, nuanced Stadium design closes with a run of formidable holes, highlighted by the island par-3 17th, known as Alcatraz. On the Nick, a resort-style access to fairways proves generally benign, before players are faced with continually raised and well-protected greens.
From 2006-08, stately and sprawling Classic Club in Palm Desert played host to the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Literally built for the pros, the primo public play designed by Arnold Palmer offers a host of signature holes which are artfully routed through a host of nature and desert flora. Tipping at over 7,300 yards, Classic can stretch to tame the scratch player, while all level of golfer can still revel in both the beauty of the surrounds and the excellence of the Tuscan-style clubhouse.
Tour pros who once took on another Palmer design, La Quinta's SilverRock Resort, may not recognize the superb spread come 2018. A home course to the Hope from 2008-11, SilverRock is enjoying an extensive, $420 renovation of its Santa Rosa Mountain-adjacent spread. The finished product will result in two on-site hotels, massive conference center and a resort village among other amenities.
To accommodate the project, SilverRock modified of its back nine holes, with the retouch unveiled in the fall of '17. What guests new and returning now enjoy is a play that maintains its popularity east end identity with a host of fresh highlights added to the scorecard, which now includes three par 3s, three par 4s and three par 5s on the latter side.
Bermuda Dunes Country Club
Host to the Hope for a half century, Bermuda Dunes Country Club is the rare private club which can be enjoyed by the public, thanks to a series of Seasonal and Preview Membership opportunities. Across its 27-holes of Billy Bell-designed play, the Bermuda Dunes CC has long maintained a stellar rep with its combination of classic, SoCal routing and slick greens.
During what was once known as the PGA Tour's Silly Season, the most recognizable names in golf played for serious bucks in the former, made-for-television Skins Game on Thanksgiving weekend. Along with former host PGA West, a number Skins tracks available to the daily-rate player are recommended tests across Greater Palm Springs.
The Golf Club at La Quinta
Taken on by the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Annika Sorenstam across four years of Skins play (2003-06), The Golf Club at La Quinta makes for a formidable challenge at better than 7,100 yards from the back tees. For the mid-to-high handicapper sliding up a tee or two, a taut collection of par 3s will keep all levels of player in check.
The Golf Club at Terra Lago
In Indio, The Golf Club at Terra Lago played home to the Skins Game from 1992-2002, and continues to engage with its complementary North and South Courses. A terrific mix and match of resort routing and desert bucoly, the North sports a run of memorable water features at its finish, while the South provides continually-tough approaches throughout the round (a test softened by the sight of train boxcars connecting the canal on the second hole).
Indian Wells Golf Resort
The Indian Wells Golf Resort hosted the final version of the Skins Game back in 2008. Played on the standout facility's Clive Clark-designed Celebrity Course, today's public player will revel in the course's fetching collection of water features and flower plantings. To enjoy a 36-hole day at IWGR, a round at the tougher Players Course will no doubt test the sand play of the best of wedgers.
Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon
And while many will be observing rather than playing the grounds of Mission Hills Country Club at the ANA Inspiration, those seeking to swing on the same turf as pro ladies need only drive up the hill to Beaumont and the dual courses at Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon. Home to a pair of fine plays in the Legends and Champions Courses, Morongo plays host to those aiming to someday get to the ANA, serving as site of the Symetra Tour's annual IOA Championship on the ladies' minor league tour.
For more, check out our full listings of golf courses in Palm Springs and beyond.