Palm Desert, California - Finest Subset of the Palm Springs Golf Scene

By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Photos By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Scot Rendall & Nick Rendall


PALM DESERT, CA – It doesn’t take a lengthy delving into California’s low desert to discover that its fate and history are intertwined with golf.


Located about two hours east of downtown Los Angeles, the desert became a notorious playground for Hollywood celebrities in the 1950’s and 60’s, then in the latter part of the century grew into a burgeoning Mecca for retirees and new economic growth – much of which surrounded the golf communities springing out of the desert sand like thorns on a cactus.


But we’d have to say it’s much more appealing than that.


Over the years the desert’s reputation and boundaries grew beyond the City of Palm Springs, as nearby communities such as Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta and even Indio expanded and built golf courses of their own.  The City of Palm Desert shares a similar heritage, though with the recent completion of perhaps the desert’s finest golf facility (at least those that are open to the public), the Classic Club, it just may have sprung ahead of the rest in the race to claim preeminence in the desert.


Palm Desert boasts forty-one (at last count) golf courses for residents and visitors, a little over half of them private, and also features one of the nicest ‘muni’ facilities you’re ever going to see, Desert Willow (with two courses).  Having played or seen a good share of them, and having visited the area enough to know my way around – there’s no better locale in the desert to vacation and tee it up.


And, as indicated above, with the opening of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic’s own Classic Club, you might be able to visit the area and not have to drive more than five minutes in any direction to golf the best during your stay.


For our purposes, we think the three Marriott Courses (Desert Springs’ Valley and Palm Courses, and the nearby Shadow Ridge Course), the Firecliff and Mountain View Courses at Desert Willow, and the new Classic Club represent the best of the best in Palm Desert.  The southern end of the city is also home to the notorious Bighorn development, as well as the newly mysterious and exclusively private Stone Eagle Club, the first Tom Doak offering in the desert – but you’ll need to know a member (and have a lot of luck) to play those.


Here’s a glimpse of what we saw on a recent trip – some of the best of Palm Desert:

Desert Willow's Mountain View Course's par three 5th hole. Natural desert vegetation to the right, mountains straight ahead.

Marriott Desert Springs' Valley Course has so much water (and waterscapes) that you'll hardly believe you're in the desert. Here, the 18th hole.

The brand new Classic Club has some growing up to do -- but there's already a tremendous amount of landscaping in place. From behind the 13th tee.

Here's another of Desert Willow Mountain View's par threes -- the 8th hole. It looks like there's a lot of 'desert' on this course, but it's also very resort-friendly in the green grass sense.

The Marriott Desert Springs' Valley Course has the mature look of a course built in the late 80's. Together with the Marriott service, it's one of Palm Desert's great all-around experiences.

The Arnold Palmer designed Classic Club is not a desert-type golf course -- there were almost 5,000 trees planted, and you won't see any cacti.

Yes, Desert Willow has a lot of native desert vegetation, but it also has some resort-style elements as well -- the palm trees and big lakes you'd find in a desert oasis.

Here's a short par four that will make you think (Valley Course #7). It's short enough to hit a mid-iron off the tee, or you can blast away with a driver... but be prepared to pay the consequences if you're not right-on target.

The Classic Club's par three 17th hole got a lot of TV coverage during the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. You can't tell from the tee, but it's got one heck of a tricky green.

From in back of Desert Willow Mountain View's 18th hole -- at this point in your round, you're done, but looking back, you can't wait for the next time you'll get a chance to play here again.

The Valley Course's par three 8th hole. The green's not right on the water, but it still looks intimidating, nonetheless.


Classic Club

75.200 Northstar Resort Parkway

Palm Desert, CA  92276


Phone:  1-760-601-3600




Desert Willow (Mountain View):

38-995 Desert Willow Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92260


Phone:(760) 346-7060; Toll Free: (800) 320-3323
FAX: (760) 346-7444


Marriott Desert Springs Resort (Valley Course)

74855 Country Club Drive

Palm Desert, CA 92660


Phone: (760) 341-2211

FAX:  (760) 341-1756


Marriott Shadow Ridge Resort

9002 Shadow Ridge Road
Palm Desert, CA 92211


Phone: (760) 674-2700
FAX: (760) 674-2710

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