Revisit the resort that made Palm Springs cool -- even in summer

Revisit the resort that made Palm Springs cool — even in summer

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No matter how you look at it, desert golf at La Quinta is a blast.
Murphy O'Brien

Drive around
Palm Springs these
days and chances
are you’ll find yourself
on a road named for a dead
celebrity.

Folks like Bob Hope,
Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford
put this place on the map, so Palm
Springs continues to pay tribute
to its dearly departed legends.

La Quinta Resort & Club, which
opened in 1926, was the original
reason that celebrities hiked into
the desert east of Los Angeles,
and today the golf and hotel
offerings are still A-List. La Quinta
has all the amenities that appeal
to couples and families, but its
menu of trophy courses make it
an underrated spot for buddy trips,
too. And hey — Adam Sandler was
a recent guest, so if it’s good enough
for Happy Gilmore …

PGA West (Greg Norman)
7,156 yds, par 72
Green fees: $79-$179
760-564-3900, laquintaresort.com

Unlike the Shark, this nine-year-old course flies under
the radar. It has plenty of muscle,
but it lacks in-your-face dramatic
holes. This is a true desert-target
track (okay, so there are nine
lakes in this desert) with slender
fairways pinched by buffer areas
of decomposed granite. Shaveddown
green surrounds and
crushed-marble bunkers give
this layout its distinctive feel. It is
completely different from any of
its neighbors, but the absence of
a ‘Wow!’ factor keeps it from the
top tier. Play it anyway — there’s
nothing quite like it.

La Quinta (Mountain Course)
6,756 yards, par 72
Green fees: $99-$179
760-564-7610, laquintaresort.com

With this 1980 design, Pete Dye transformed the Palm Springs
area from a sleepy enclave of private courses to a golf
vacation destination. These days the course plays a little short, but
it’s still drenched in character. Slow play is often an issue, especially
at the brutal but beautiful 205-yard 2nd, where the water
hazard forces many to reload. You’ll also need to struggle through
the boredom of flat, house-lined holes from number 10 through 13.
However, in the middle of both nines the mountainside golf is so
overwhelmingly beautiful and fun that the track earns its No. 70 ranking in our Top 100 Courses You Can Play on the strength of
those holes alone. Just remain patient enough to get there.

La Quinta (Dunes Course)
6,747 yards, par 72
Green fees: $59-$149
760-564-7610, laquintaresort.com

The Dunes debuted a year after the Mountain and
it boasts almost as much traditional Dye challenge — grassy mounds, railroad ties and elevated greens,
to name just a few. What it lacks are the genuinely thrilling
holes that exist on the Mountain, but it’s still a worthy
stop for vacationing golfers, even if the primary hazard
is a hard-to-disguise drainage canal. The 433-yard 17th,
which curves hard left around a large lake, would be
an all-star hole on any course.

PGA West (Nicklaus Tournament)
7,126 yards, par 72
Green fees: $79-$179
760-564-7101, laquintaresort.com

This is the most underrated course in the Coachella
Valley, a relic of Jack’s no-holds-barred design style in
the late 1980s. That’s when all you needed to score well on
a Nicklaus course was to hit the ball as long, straight and
high as Jack did during his heyday. Minimalists will loathe
the massive, serpentine waste bunkers, steep falloffs and
a lake-protected double green that serves the 9th and 18th
holes, but fans of tough, brawny courses will love it.

PGA West (Stadium Course)
7,300 yards, par 72
Green fees: $99-$199
760-564-7101, laquintaresort.com

Guests of La Quinta Resort & Club have preferred
access to the PGA West courses, so you can book your
mugging on the Stadium Course up to 120 days in
advance. It no longer evokes the terror it did in the 1980s,
when crybaby Tour pros refused to return and face its
relentless obstacles, but the Stadium is still the top public
“must play” in the SoCal desert. Good golfers won’t be
too intimidated by the forced carries, but the 19-footdeep
bunker left of the 16th green and the island green at
the par-3 17th will make everyone’s mouth a little drier.

Staying here Rooms at La Quinta start
at $225 per night.
Call 800-598-3828
or visit laquintaresort.com