If you’ve never been to Palm Springs to play golf, let me tell you a little bit about it. It’s the West Coast version of Hilton Head. As you fly into the airport and crest the mountains into the heart of the Coachella Valley, you see two colors – the brown of the desert and the emerald green of more golf courses than you can count.
Living in Phoenix, I’m lucky to get to Palm Springs more often than a lot of people. And yes, whenever I go, my golf clubs are in tow. One of our writers escapes the cold Oregon winters every year too, for a visit to Palm Springs. Between us, we’ve played a good number of the public courses in the area. With his help, and in conjunction with our readers, we’ve compiled our top ten list for this golf mecca.
The Stadium Course at PGA West
Pete Dye likes to beat people up. As golfers, we kind of like it in a sadistic way… once in a while. That’s exactly what can happen at the Stadium Course at PGA West.
I don’t mean to scare you off though. There are plenty of tee options for everyone to choose from.
This is a course everyone should play at least once. While it’s quite demanding, it’s neat to play a venue where the finals of PGA Tour-School used to be held.
The course gives you plenty of room and is more than fair but, missed shots are going to find trouble.
Come here for the experience and come away with an appreciation for what the best players in the world face on a weekly basis.
Desert Falls Country Club
Desert Falls Country Club has been a steady staple in the Palm Springs for years. In fact, this is where our writer I mentioned in the opening stays with his buddies every winter.
Designed by renowned architect, Ron Fream, Desert Falls is an old school Southern California design. Palm and cypress trees line the fairways and well-guarded greens mean you need to be striking it well in order to score.
The back nine is tougher than the front. Especially holes 15-17. Consisting of two par fours with a par five in the middle, getting through this stretch without a big number of the card is major success.
Always in great condition, Desert Falls flies a little under the radar, but it is one of my favorites in the Palm Springs area.
Indian Palms Country Club
One of my favorite public tracks in this part of the world is Indian Palms Country Club. Yes, there is a membership here but, the course relies heavily on public play for revenue.
That’s not to say that the course is hurting… More that the existing membership is on the older side and numbers are going down every year.
Three distinct nines allow you to mix and match creating a diverse experience.
The golf course has been here forever, but the mix of holes makes it a blast to play. From demanding par threes, to drivable par fours, and reachable par fives, this course is both fun and challenging.
If you’re with a group of guys and want to play for a couple bucks on a quality course, Indian Palms has everything you could want.
The Lights at Indio Golf Course
The Lights at Indio is about as far from the glitz and glamor of a high-end course as you can get. Play in a t-shirt, barefoot, and with a cooler in tow… you’ll be right at home.
This 18-hole executive course needs to be played to be experienced. During the day, it’s a good test for your irons and short game. What’s especially cool is that it’s fully lit and can be played at night.
This track is also home to a legendary weekly skins game – our writer plays in it whenever he’s in town. Every Tuesday and Friday night, the best players in the Coachella Valley gather here and kick in $20. The group plays in a single mob of up to 50 players where golf decorum as we know it goes out the window. Multiple people tee off at once, music is playing, and if you don’t make birdie, you pick it up and head for the next tee. Anyone is welcome and if you’re lucky enough to win a skin, it can be lucrative to say the least.
Soboba Springs Golf Course
If you want to have a good time with a group of buddies, take a closer look at Soboba Springs.
This property features not only a great golf course, but a first-class hotel and casino as well. With the right crowd, it doesn’t get any better than staying and playing in the same place.
Concerning the golf course, Soboba Springs is straight forward, but by no means boring to play. A mix of short and long holes allow you to use every club in your bag.
The greens are consistently some of the best in the valley and the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains is breathtaking.
Stay, play, and have fun. A great choice for a guy’s trip with everything you need is in one spot.
Palm Royale Country Club
Golf courses don’t have to be long and tough to be fun to play.
That’s precisely the case at Palm Royale Country Club. This executive course is a hidden secret that locals love for a quick round with friends or to work on their game.
Even though most of the holes are on the shorter side, plenty of water and bunkers lurk so you’d best be precise.
Rates are more than fair considering the quality of this course.
Quick, fun, and well taken care of. A great spot for a warmup round or fun time with friends.
The Classic Club
The Classic Club might be the most underrated high-end public facility in all the Coachella Valley.
Formerly home to the Bob Hope Classic, this course has it all.
Wide fairways and slick, manicured greens are punctuated by lots of trees and numerous bunkers that keep you honest.
You’ll want to make time to enjoy all the amenities at the Classic Club. Multiple dining options, opulent locker rooms, and perfect practice facilities make the experience here complete.
Mountain View Course at Desert Willow
The two courses at Desert Willow are arguably the very best in all of Palm Springs.
It costs a pretty penny if you’re from out of the area to play here but, it’s more than worth it.
Having played both courses, it’s a tossup as to which one is my favorite. I mentioned the Firecliff Course in another review so let’s focus on the Mountain View Course.
Sprawled out amongst the native rolls and arroyos of the desert, each hole makes you feel like you’re a long way from anything else.
While the fairways are expansive, wayward shots are likely to end up in water hazards or amongst the prickly vegetation of the desert.
Always in great shape and treat to play. Worth the price and do some shopping ahead of time if you can.
Hawk’s Landing Golf Club
If you find yourself at the north end of the Coachella Valley and are looking for a fun round at a great price, put Hawk’s Landing on your schedule.
Even though the course is only 12 holes, it’s a treat to play and you won’t get bored. Here, you have the option of playing six, 12, or 18 holes. This makes the course a great option if you’re in a time crunch but still want to get some swings in.
For a little extra excitement during your round, try out one of the course’s golf boards.
Mesquite Golf and Country Club
If pace of play and value are important factors for your round of golf, Mesquite Golf and Country Club is calling your name.
Here, it’s understood that everyone should have fun, but a round of golf shouldn’t take you all day.
Are you from Canada and looking to get warm during the winter? You’ve come to the right place as Mesquite is a favorite venue for Canucks. You betcha, eh?
All the amenities you’ll need, reasonable prices, and fast place of play. Sounds like a winning combination to me.
When it comes to quantity and quality of golf, there’s no concentration of courses like the one in the Coachella Valley. I try to play some place new every time I go and it’s never a problem.
With so many options to choose from, you’ll be golfed out by the time you leave. These are just a few of the best spots in Palm Springs; there’s many more that belong on this list. What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments and thanks for reading!