As golf's first major championship of the year readies for its return to Greater Palm Springs, the apt tag line for the 47th annual playing of the ANA Inspiration beckons, "Stories Will Unfold."
If last year's compelling competition is any indicator, the 2018 gathering of the LPGA's best players at Mission Hills Country Club will present plenty of stories to enjoy.
But spectators, fans and desert guests should keep in mind that the event (March 26 – April 1, 2018) isn't limited to on-course activity alone.
A visit to Greater Palm Springs also presents ample opportunity to make your own story.
Seeking ways to enhance your desert experience during ANA week? We've got your activity scorecard covered for what to do in Greater Palm Springs before, during and after the tournament.
Before the ANA Inspiration
For those seeking to become more than just spectators during the week, get your own blood flowing with a casual hike near the event grounds. In neighboring Palm Desert, walk the 2.7 mile Randall Henderson Loop Trail or enjoy the more challenging elevation gains of the always-popular two-mile hike of the Bump & Grind.
Of course, many ANA fans are golfers themselves. To get swinging in the days preceding the event or for a morning round prior to a day of tourney play, public access options abound across the desert's golf oasis.
In Palm Springs, players of all levels will revel in the natural bounty of the Indian Canyons South Course, where the native Washingtonia Filifera palms carve your path to par.
Mid-valley guests in Palm Desert should be sure to tee time in a day at Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club, presenting generous landing area off the tee and a continual host of short game tests.
Image courtesy of Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa.
And for players seeking premier ease-of-access to the ANA grounds, take in a day (or two) at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa. Right next door to the Mission Hills Country Club, the Westin's Pete Dye Resort Course offers an ever-playable layout from the renowned designer, and just a mile away, the resort's Gary Player Signature Course makes for an earnest challenge of tee play and bunker prowess.
During the ANA Inspiration
Image courtesy of ANA Inspiration.
Now in its fourth year as tournament sponsor, ANA continues to create ways to enhance the fan experience.
Between the action, the event offers no shortage of ways to enjoy the grounds and enhance the experience.
Want to swing like one of the competitors? Well, that may be a stretch, but a free, 10-minute on-site instructional session at the LPGA Lesson Zone will help correct those bad habits. From 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. during Thursday thru Sunday of tournament week, take a visit to Mission's range for a tune-up with some of the area's top teaching and club professionals.
For those aiming to grab a signature souvenir during the ANA, stop by the tournament's autograph tent (located adjacent to the main practice putting green) during the event's four days of play.
The top airline in Japan, ANA's Experience Exhibit will provide a sample of what it's like to fly first class. And to show off your best impression of a victor's celebratory Leap into Poppie's Pond alongside the 18th green, the exhibit provides an interactive Leap experience, where the week's best "Leaper" via social media will earn round-trip tickets to Tokyo.
After the ANA Inspiration
An active desert day calls for a great meal when the sun goes down. Guests looking for a smooth segue from play to plate will appreciate the short drive to Rancho's "Restaurant Row," providing a host of top-dining options. Dining picks here range from the Hawaiian fusion and fun cocktailing at Roy's. to the classic setting and modern Cali cuisine of Wally's Desert Turtle, to the superb service and traditional Japanese servings of Shabu Shabu Zen (where, by the way, one may well see a few ANA players across post-play evenings).
On Thursday, March 29, get in some prime people-watching along Palm Springs' main drag for VillageFest; running from 6–10 p.m., the weekly gathering is a family-friendly mix of arts, food, crafts and entertainment across 180 unique vendors.
Looking to let the hair down from your visor? Well, many valley guests find "The Dinah" party to be the place to be. Reputed as "The Largest Girl Music Party in the World," the annual five-day and night lesbian bash in Palm Springs is not affiliated with the tournament, but has run concurrent to the golf event since 1991 and brings thousands to the desert for drink, music and ample dance.
Looking for more to enjoy? Explore golf in Greater Palm Springs here.