Robert Trent Jones Jr., Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus—the list of top pros who have designed championship courses in the Palm Springs region couldn’t get more name-droppy, at least when it comes to golf. Add mountain and desert vistas that make waiting for your tee time a pleasure, and you can see why the Coachella Valley tops so many golfers’ lists of favorite places to hit the links.
A staggering 124 courses dot the valley; it’s said to be the greatest concentration of golf courses in the world. Some of the best known are at La Quinta’s PGA West Golf Club & Resort. Three public courses offer tight fairways, multi-tiered greens, deep sand bunkers, and plenty of water features. At Indian Wells Golf Resort, test your skills on the rolling Celebrity Course, or try the peaceful Players Course—its road- and house-free surroundings make for especially beautiful backdrops while you play. If you’re aiming to hone your skills, consider taking a lesson with one of the course’s outstanding pros. You can also have your swing evaluated at Indian Wells’ Callaway Performance Center.
Also among the area’s must-play links are the Mountain View and Firecliff courses at Desert Willow Golf Resort. With more than 100 bunkers and green surrounds that protect the par throughout, the Firecliff was designed with the higher-skill player in mind, while the the Mountain View course offers a still challenging but more forgiving set of links.
Ten miles away, SilverRock Resort boasts one of the longest tracks in all of Southern California at 7,600 yards; the course, a onetime Bob Hope Classic host, is wrapped around the base of the Santa Monica mountains, making for a memorable setting. Other nearby not-to-be-missed links include Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club and Escena Golf Club. Some resorts, like Indian Wells and La Quinta, offer stay-and-play specials; be sure to ask when booking.