With upwards of 120 golf courses – and more in the works – the Coachella Valley (which includes Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and La Quinta) harbors one of the highest concentrations of golf courses in the world. With all of these options comes the task of deciding where you want to tee it up. Talk about first-world problems. However, if your visit is limited to a long weekend, here are three courses that should not be missed.
Designed by the one and only Arnold Palmer, SilverRock Golf Course has been challenging top-tier golfers since opening for play in 2005. The course, set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Santa Rosa Mountains, is quite lengthy from the furthest set of tees, stretching out to 7,578 yards. The course offers six different sets of tees to accommodate different skill levels. With massive native bunkers, numerous large water hazards, and quick tiered greens, SilverRock will challenge your game while you are enjoying the natural beauty of the course. Don’t be surprised if a gallery made up of bighorn sheep gathers to watch you play. The bighorn sheep graze the mountainsides and often wander onto the course.
Owned by the City of La Quinta and managed by Landmark Golf Management, SilverRock hosted the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic from 2008-2011. As of now SilverRock sits on its own as an 18-hole course, but plans are underway for another 18-hole championship golf course, a world-class practice center, retail venues, and boutique hotels. silverrock.org
Golf legend Jack Nicklaus’ phenomenal play on the PGA Tour is matched by his challenging golf course designs, which are known to include an abundance of forced shots over water, a liberal smattering of bunkers, and multiple risk-reward holes. The PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course lives up to his reputation. At just over 7,200 yards, the Nicklaus Tournament Course features two island greens, large rolling fairways, and many multi-tiered putting surfaces. The enormous green that is shared between the 9th and 18th holes features huge undulations and is surrounded by bunkers and a large body of water, making for spectacular views from the state-of-the-art clubhouse that sits in the background. The PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course has played host to The Grand Slam of Golf, Wendy’s Tree Tour Challenge, The Humana Challenge (formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic), and is home to the PGA’s Tour Qualifying School.
Finally, TPC Stadium Course at PGA West offers a formidable finish to our short list of must-play courses. Designed by Pete Dye, the course earned the distinction of being the 4th toughest course in America in Golf Digest’s “Top 50 Toughest Courses in America.” The 7,300-yard course has an extremely high course rating at 76.1. The Stadium Course delivers highly demanding approach shots to the greens that get very tricky if you fail to end up on the putting surface. As you strategize yourself around the course, there seem to be adrenaline rushes around every corner, none as big as when you enter the par 3, 17th-tee box. The hole is named Alcatraz as the green is an island. It is not an overly long par 3 at just under 170 yards, but it is quite intimidating; if you miss the green, you’re in the water. Bring your patience as well as a lot of golf balls when you come to play TPC Stadium Course as it is one of golf’s greatest tests. In the words of the course’s designer, Pete Dye himself, “Golf is not a fair game, so why build a golf course fair?”pgawest.com
After experiencing some of the greatest golf the California desert has to offer, take a short drive down the road and you will arrive at a truly relaxing desert hideaway, The La Quinta Resort and Spa. Rich in history, La Quinta Resort was built in the early 1920s by San Francisco businessman Walter H. Morgan. The lush, 45-acre grounds are set at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains, offering spectacular views from around the entire resort. Along with the championship golf courses, La Quinta is one big playground, with world-class tennis, fine dining, and blissful spa experiences. With 41 different pools, including a 21-and-over adult pool, you are sure to find your perfect hideaway to relax in the sun.
There are three phenomenal options for dining on the resort. If you are looking for authentic Mexican cuisine, Adobe Grill is a must try. Famed for its award-winning tamales and signature margaritas, Adobe Grill also offers live entertainment on its sprawling outdoor patio. Open for breakfast, lunch as well as dinner, TWENTY6 is more of your traditional American cuisine. With a very relaxed indoor-outdoor atmosphere, this modern American bistro uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create a fantastic menu. Morgan’s in the desert is La Quinta’s out-of-this-world signature dining venue. Award-winning chef Jimmy Schmidt uses local ingredients, fusing them with contemporary flair to create a unique dining experience. Set in a comfortable and stylish environment, with both indoor and outdoor seating, Morgan’s offers the finest meats, fish, and chicken dishes that the Coachella Valley has to offer. With nightly entertainment at the piano bar and a cozy outdoor patio with a large fire pit, you might find yourself lingering long after your meal has ended.
Your visit is not complete until you visit the world-class Spa La Quinta, which offers a variety of unique indoor and outdoor treatments including specialized treatments such as the PGA WEST Golf Massage. After your treatment, enjoy a private garden tub, pool, steam, and sauna. Chances are good that you’ll leave Spa La Quinta rejuvenated and completely relaxed.
With its world-class golf courses, tennis facility, spa, and fine dining, it is no wonder that La Quinta Resort and Spa continues to be a favorite getaway for travelers around the world, as well as Hollywood’s elite. laquintaresort.com