Palm Springs Golfing Guide for Locals
Palm Springs’ housing market today is hotter than the midday sun and bubbling like the naturally boiling springs the city is named after. Whether it’s the over 300 days of sunshine a year, the close-but-not-too-close proximity to LA, the rich cultural history, or the easy access to resort-style amenities, there are plenty of draws to this desert oasis.
In addition to these perennial advantages, Palm Springs is also becoming increasingly attractive to those who are working remote, looking to leave the crowded cities, or just trying to plant their flag somewhere more laid-back. This has put new homes for sale in Palm Springs at a premium. And while the spas, restaurants, and hotels are all well and good, the real attraction for many is the spectacular Palm Springs golf. So much so that it has (rightfully so) garnered a reputation as the “Golf Capital of the World.”
Let’s look at some classic golf courses in Palm Springs and explore the many ways in which the history of Palm Springs city is almost synonymous with the history of Palm Springs Golf.
Why is Palm Springs known as the “Golf Capital of the World”?
Quantity vs. quality—there’s always going to be a trade-off, right? Well, when it comes to golf courses in Palm Springs, there’s no need to choose. The “Golf Capital of the World has you covered on both fronts.
The sheer number of golf courses in Palm Springs, over 130 in the Coachella Valley alone, is enough to guarantee that you’ll find 18 great holes. Find just about any price point, style, or difficulty level, depending on what you’re hunting for.
In addition to the high-end pro courses, you’ll also enjoy access to a wide variety of reasonably priced public courses so you can cultivate a diverse circuit of workout spots that will set you up for success on the more luxurious, iconic golf courses in Palm Springs.
History of Golf in Palm Springs
Built by oil tycoon Thomas O’Donnell in 1926, the O'Donnell Golf Club set the tee for the development of the sport in the Coachella Valley. Built on a parcel of campground, next to his favorite vacation spot—the Desert Inn—the course became O’Donnell’s ideal personal playground. Except it almost ceased to be when he suffered a series of health setbacks, rendering him unable to engage with his favorite pastime. After observing the delight others took in enjoying his dream, however, he made arrangements for the course to carry on after his passing. It retains his legacy to this day.
This was just the start of a rich golf history in Palm Spring though. Between the late 1940s and early ’60s, 14 more courses were built. And another 40 plus courses were added during the 1970s. By the turn of the century, the number of golf courses in Palm Springs was nearing 100.
Some of this had to do with the “Golden Age of Hollywood,” during which Palm Springs became a getaway for the stars and Hollywood elite who were looking to escape the magnifying glass of the tabloids. But the establishment of The Thunderbird Country Club in 1951, and its 1955 hosting of the Ryder Cup, is what laid the groundwork for professional Palm Springs golf. Eventually, the Thunderbird invitational morphed into the Desert Classic—a pivotal West Coast PGA tour stop.
Top Palm Springs Golf Courses
One of the defining features of Palm Springs golf is the quality representation of just about every style of a golf course imaginable, as well as opportunities to marvel at works by most of the game's most celebrated designers.
Looking for a great Scottish links-style game? La Quinta’s Dunes Course, designed by the legendary Pete Dye, offers unmatched scenic views alongside numerous water hazards that pose a challenging test for even the most accurate shooters.
Its sister course, the Mountain Course — another Pete Dye concept—replaces water with sand, for a more desert-themed shooting gallery with no-less gorgeous surroundings. Visitors to the La Quinta courses will also enjoy the spas, both for the adults and the kids, to help decompress after a less successful day on the links—along with numerous other amenities the facility offers.
Escena is another Palm Springs essential. This golf course is a Jack Nicklaus-designed PGA course with several sets of tees offering a sliding scale of difficulty for golfers looking for a more laid-back or high-intensity round.
This is just the very tip of an enormous iceberg. It can take a lifetime to feel like you’ve fully exhausted all the golf opportunities in the city. If you’re looking to set yourself up with endless fairways and stake your claim in a white-hot housing market, consider taking a look at these new homes for sale in Palm Springs. Your handicap will thank you for it!
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