Finding a winter reprieve on a Palm Springs golf course
Sun., Jan. 22, 2023
Palm trees on a Palm Springs golf course. (Dan Webster/For The Spokesman-Review)
I’m gonna blame it on the wind.
By “it” I mean the ridiculously high golf scores that my wife and I recorded during our weeklong stay last year in Palm Springs, California.
Not that those scores are surprising. Neither of us is anywhere near a competent golfer. After a series of lessons at Spokane’s GolfTEC outlet a few years ago, my own game evolved from terrible to moderately bad (though afterward I did score my first, and to date only, eagle).
My wife took a few lessons at Esmerelda Golf Course, which improved her game. Yet both of us are confirmed students of the “one good drive, one good chip, one good putt” school of golf.
Our main desire was to soak up some sun after the dark, snowy winter of 2021. And we’re already making plans to do so again this coming April. But, too, we wanted to get ourselves in decent enough golf shape to play, as we regularly do, on several of Spokane’s courses – even if we do prefer the relatively narrow fairways of Indian Canyon.
We’ve done the same preparation in past years, most recently on the big island of Hawaii, where we played at both the Makalei Golf Club and the Kona Country Club – neither of which is as fancy as you might think. Both, though, fit both our rudimentary skills and our budget.
Two, as fans of midcentury-modern architecture, we wanted to check out some of Palm Springs’ more famous examples. We did by following a self-guided driving tour, which you can access through visitpalmsprings.com and includes such sites the Dinah Shore house, the Kaufman Desert House and much more.
In fact, we were fortunate to score a spacious Airbnb apartment at the Racquet Club Garden Villas, which was one of the city’s very first examples of midcentury-modern construction.
Three, no visit to this area is complete without at least a glimpse of nearby Joshua Tree National Park. In early March, the park wasn’t particularly crowded, unlike later in the summer. Even nonhikers – which includes the two of us – would be impressed with sights of the Joshua trees themselves, the Cholla Cactus Garden, Skull Rock among many others.
And, of course, in addition to checking out the Palm Springs Art Museum, we enjoyed some decent meals. Mexican food at La Perlita and Las Casuelas Terraza, sushi at Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey, terrace dining at Eight4Nine … and so on.
But back to golf. Palm Springs and the surrounding area are home to some 100 courses, nine of which are in the city itself. They range from professional-grade courses to the kinds of municipal courses that we favor, and the fees are reasonable – especially if you opt, as we did, for twilight tee times.
Unlike our friends and acquaintances who are habitual golfers, meaning that they play every day (and sometimes more than once a day), we played only three times. And we never did complete a full 18 holes. (Did I mention that we aren’t particularly skilled at the sport?)
Mesquite Golf and Country Club: My wife had looked online for “easiest golf courses,” and this place was one that showed up. It features mostly wide fairways, no water hazards that I could see and the biggest problem we faced was the condition I’ve already mentioned: wind.
At times, the wind blew so hard that it was hard to stand up, much less hit anything straight. And forget putting. Stroke just a tad too hard and you might end up off the green entirely and maybe even in a bunker.
Still, while I was racking up a slate of double and triple bogeys, my wife managed to score a par on Hole No. 8, a 159-yard par 3. One drive, one chip and one putt, all on one hole. Mission accomplished.
Cimarron Golf Resort (Pebble Course): Cimarron offered us a choice between two immaculate courses, the mostly par 3 Pebble Course and the longer Boulder Course. We played the Pebble Course and managed to get in 14 holes before we had to return our cart by 5:30.
My round started off with a splash, literally, my first drive going barely 50 feet and right into the water. But again, along with those high-scoring holes, we both had our moments. My wife scored another par, as did I – not bad considering we could hardly hear ourselves think because of the whistling wind.
Indian Canyons Golf Resort (North Course): Considering the name, we had to play here. After we finished, though, we discovered that we’d played the harder of the resort’s two courses.
We played only 11 holes, what with our late afternoon start and the disappearing sunlight. By this point, my driving had improved. And so, both of us were able to find pretty much the center of the fairways, if not particularly far down them.
But anything that required touch – chipping, putting – well, forget it. And so no pars for either of us. Which means my wife beat me in our private par contest, 2 to 1. Turns out taking those lessons at Esmerelda was a good idea.
With that we packed up our clubs, returned to our Airbnb and spent our last evening watching television (Hulu’s Elizabeth Holmes series “The Dropout”). Just that fast, our Palm Springs vacation was over.
Our satisfying vacation, I should add. Except, of course, for the wind.
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