With the PGA’s major season a few weeks from getting underway, many of us are looking to dust off our clubs and get an early start on our favorite summer pastime. In fact, the Palm Springs golf season never really ends. The Southern California desert region’s 100-plus courses makes it the perfect sporting road trip from Los Angeles or San Diego, and its year-round sunshine makes it worth a flight from just about anywhere for golfers suffering from the winter blues. Don’t wait for the snow to melt, get down here and start swinging.
First Stop: Finding Your Accommodation
The first step in planning any golf trip is finding a place to stay. How does a private backyard swimming pool surrounded by lush vegetation and mountain views sound? Yup, we’re in Palm Springs, alright. If Spanish Revival architecture tickles your fancy, then Villa Vista is surely the place for you. With three exquisitely designed bedrooms, Vista can accommodate several types of small group golf trips. Three couples can comfortably live here and enjoy the location, whether everyone in the group is a golfer or not.
There’s plenty of opportunity for exploration nearby; you’re just a five-minute drive to Moorten Botanical Garden and a 10-minute drive to both downtown and Indian Canyons. Meanwhile, the villa has a spacious outdoor terrace, pool, and hot tub in addition to cable TV, Wifi, and all the amenities for cooking and serving three meals a day. Whether settling into a hidden outdoor nook for some rest or cozying up by the fireplace in the Master bedroom, this stunning home near downtown Palm Springs satisfies every need. And of course, there’s the desirable collection of golf courses in the Palm Springs area. In fact, you can start shot-planning for your first round of golf from Vista’s yard, which overlooks the scenic South Course at Indian Canyons.
Golf Course 1: Indian Canyons
Your first golf game requires little transportation. From Villa Vista, you’re only a four-minute drive from the clubhouse at Indian Canyons, a drive so short you may even consider using a 3-wood. The two 18s at Indian Canyons are completely different from one another, so one round at each is not out of the question. The North Course is the longer of the two and features better views with the San Jacinto mountains practically surrounding you, which not only makes for a scenic round but mostly eliminates wind—something all golfers can be thankful for.
Look out for the water hazard between the ninth and 18th, which houses the Disney fountain, donated by Walt Disney himself, and sprays water up to 100 feet in the air. The South Course was designed in part by LPGA legend Amy Alcott and features those distinct California palm trees along with a cherished Native American tree called the Washingtonia Filifera. The back nine invites some daring golf with its two reachable par fives.
After a grueling 36-hole day at Indian Canyons, you’re sure to have worked up an appetite. Luckily, Villa Vista guests don’t have to seek out the best nearby restaurant to grab dinner—it’s at home. Take the four-minute drive back to the property, and let your group’s private chef delight you with a restaurant-style dinner cooked in the gourmet kitchen and served indoors or out—your choice. Then, when the sun begins to set over the South Course, marking the end of a successful day of golf, position yourself on the veranda with a smooth cocktail and drink in the fact that you get to do all it over again tomorrow. In golf, we call that a mulligan.
Golf Course 2: Escena Golf Club
No golf trip is complete without playing a Nicklaus, and just eight and a half miles north of Villa Vista, you can get your fill at the Golden Bear-designed Escena Golf Club. You would be hard-pressed to find a Palm Springs golf recommendation anywhere that doesn’t include Escena, and there are many reasons why it’s a must-add to your golf-tinerary. The PGA Tour ranked it the sixth-best public golf course in California, but don’t let that ranking scare you. Escena is well-suited for any handicap, as bunkers and hazards provide risk should you choose to attack them, but spacious fairways offer room for the safe play for higher scorers. You’ll be thankful you warmed up with 36 holes the previous day because Escena’s first hole is its hardest. The 522-yard par five (from the middle tees) features an ascending fairway climb toward a two-tiered green, a challenging sign of things to come. And for those that want more out of their golf course, Escena has one of Palm Springs’ nicest clubhouses along with a comfortable 19th hole restaurant and bar.
Explore Downtown Palm Springs
It’s well known that Palm Springs has been home to many of Hollywood’s biggest stars over the years, most famously Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack. With 350 sunny days every year and virtually no rain, it’s no wonder those with discriminating tastes choose to set up shop here. The city’s recently revitalized downtown core reflects the stardom that has passed through: hip, stylish, and fashionable, but its pace remains much more relaxing than that of L.A., 110 miles west. Take an afternoon to see the history for yourself; tour the old Elvis Presley Mansion in Vista Las Palmas, catch some live music at the old Rat Pack hangout, Melvyn’s Restaurant, or hit the high-end art galleries and fashion boutiques along Indian Canyon or Palm Canyon Drive.
Golf Course 3: The Classic Club
Your last course is the longest drive of the three, but still only roughly 25 minutes from your villa. Just north of Palm Desert, you’ll find the Classic Club, a fitting follow-up to Nicklaus’ Escena as it’s an Arnold Palmer build. From 2006 through 2008, the Bob Hope Classic was hosted here. Known to be one of the highest-end courses in the Palm Springs area, Classic is operated by Troon Golf, so you’re sure to get a great experience every time. The Classic course is difficult enough to challenge low handicaps and give high handicaps something to worry about. On a windy day, the course’s difficulty increases significantly. On the bright side, the club is Audubon-certified, so even if your game isn’t in top form, you can still appreciate your surroundings the whole way through. The Classic Club has received recognition as a top desert course and for its greens and range facilities. For souvenirs, head into its golf shop, ranked among the top 100 golf shops by Golf World Magazine.
Leave Palm Springs, Start Planning Your Return
Alright—time to check out. But not before sneaking one last swim in the pool and a morning meal at the breakfast bar. While your vacation is ending, the good news is this doesn’t have to be the last time you golf Palm Springs. There are plenty more world-class courses in California’s desert region (read this guide for more), and there are more than 40 homes in the area rivaling Villa Vista, each offering a completely personalized vacation experience. Be sure to consult our entire collection of villas in Palm Springs, or ask your Villa Specialist to find the best home for you.