Phoenix-to-Palm-Springs jaunt is 4 hours along I-10
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press
There is a place about four hours from the Phoenix metropolitan area found westbound along Interstate 10 where a historic golf destination offers picturesque looks on manicured greens alongside a landscape of luxurious resorts, one-of-a-kind restaurants and hospitality.
The golf destination in the Sonoran Desert of southern California is called Palm Springs, where patrons for generations have enjoyed the local hot springs, shopping along Palm Canyon Drive and award-winning golf courses a part of PGA West.
— Chris Caballero
“The most unique part about Palm Springs from a golfer’s perspective is everywhere you turn, there is a golf course,” said Chris Caballero, director of golf at PGA West. “There is a course here for everyone. We have about 120-125 active courses right now in the desert, well when I say desert, I mean the Coachella Valley.”
Palm Springs has been home to PGA West since 1985 and is home to the brand’s nine championship courses, five clubhouses and two private clubs — each featuring its own branded eateries and restaurants.
Although Palm Springs is a part of the Sonoran Desert and shares much of the same climate as the Phoenix metropolitan area, which Mr. Caballero reminds, it is a dry heat.
“The dry heat you can handle it, but when you have that humidity during the summer months it’s just no good,” he said of afternoon tee times during summer months but points out early tee times and afternoon pool parties are a great combination.
“The summer months have been pretty busy, honestly,” he said of booking rounds the last 60 days. “I would say about 10 years ago, you would really have a defined season for summer and then ‘the season’ but today we are seeing good numbers in terms of rounds booked on all of our courses.”
Overviews of Indian Wells Golf Resort. (Photo courtesy of Visit Greater Palm Springs/DigitalFreePress.com)
Second to none conditions
Those courses are second to none as the PGA West greens portfolio provides 163 holes of championship golf designed by five golf legends: Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, Pete Dye, Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus.
Mr. Caballero, who spoke to the Arizona Digital Free Press at PGA West headquarters in La Quinta, Calif., says access is playing a pivotal role in the demographic of the desert golf visitor.
“I would say pre-COVID it was a lot more around the world, in terms of who was coming here just for golf. We had a very good Canadian following here in the desert, but as COVID took hold I know a lot of our Canadian golfers were locked out of the country,” he explained.
“But after that, we still got busier, and we would see people coming from San Diego, Phoenix and Los Angeles.”
Golf professionals in Palm Springs point out PGA West courses have been scenes of greatness on grass. PGA WEST has hosted more than 45 PGA Tour events. Known as “The Western Home of Golf in America,” it has been owned by Century Golf Partners and Hankuk Industry since 2020.
The partnership at Century Golf Partnership has been a catapult for taking local offerings to the next level at PGA West in Palm Springs. Mr. Caballero explains over the next 90 days the entire PGA West portfolio will be offering pristine conditions
“A few of our courses still need to be aerated but come September and early October the conditions are second to none,” he said. “What we’re doing with all nine courses is they are going through a bit of renovation as we are improving the grounds but offering a better breed of bermudagrass, TifEagle.”
Mr. Caballero explains the TifEagle bermudagrass is uniquely adapted to manage golf greens in the desert.
“The ultimate goal is to get all of our courses back to the original design,” he said of the Pete Dye-designed golf courses in Palm Springs. “The original vision of Pete Dye — we hope that after a total of three years we will be back to the original aura.”