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A Pro's Guide to Golfing Coachella Valley

posted by Laura Baker-Finch on April 09, 2012

Coachella Valley is known for more than its upcoming eponymous music festival, it is also world-renowned as a golfer's paradise, with more than 120 golf courses and resorts. The area draws golf enthusiasts year-round and even plays host to a few professional tournaments. So if you're in the area for Coachella and have some spare time before or after the event, or in-between if you are lucky enough to attend both weekends (I envy you!), why not stick around and play a round of golf?

Ian Baker-Finch, professional golfer and CBS golf analyst, has helped us narrow down the numerous Coachella Valley courses to a more manageable list of his top picks. From championship courses closed to the general public to those open to all (albeit with a reservation and green fee), here's a glimpse of the best Coachella Valley has to offer.

Ian named Toscana Country Club, The Quarry, The Madison Club, and Eldorado as the top four in the area. Toscana Country Club was designed by pro golfer Jack Nicklaus; famed golf course designer Tom Fazio is responsible for the success of the following three. All four are private - you'll need to know a member to get a tee time on one of these world-class courses. But if you know a local, it's worth asking their member status, as playing one of these courses is a truly unforgettable experience for any golfer, no matter their level.

If you don't know a member, don't fret. Coachella Valley has numerous top-rated courses open to non-members and visitors. The courses at Mission Hills, PGA West, La Quinta Resort, Indian Wells Golf Resort, and Desert Willow Golf Resort stand out amongst the rest.

Mission Hills has two courses; one designed by Gary Player who brings his expertise from a long professional golf career including 165 tournament wins, 9 of which were majors, and the second by designer Pete Dye. Both courses are surrounded by the Westin Mission Hills Resort so you have the option to "stay and play" by selecting one of the Golf Packages or booking a Traditional Room or Suite.

PGA West is home to six championship courses, three of which are open to the public. Non-members can chose from the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course, the TPC Stadium Course designed by Pete Dye, and the Greg Norman Course, which is his first desert course in Southern California.

La Quinta Resort is home to two Pete Dye-designed courses. The Dunes Course is characterized by golf's traditional Scottish roots with rolling fairways and thick rough. It is considered a counterpart and warm up for PGA West's TPC Stadium Course. The Mountain Course, named one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 You Can Play, will be a challenge for all skill levels with its pot bunkers and rock formations. La Quinta Resort also offers casitas, suites, villas, and private residences for those in need of accommodation in addition to a great round of golf.

Indian Wells Golf Resort includes two course options - the Celebrity Course and the Players Course. The former was designed by Clive Clark and the latter, which debuted a year later, was designed by John Fought, who took advantage of the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges when orienting holes.

Desert Willow Golf Resort also features two courses. The Mountain View Course is great for a smoother game and a relaxing round with friends. The more challenging Firecliff, however, will be a test of skills with natural hazards and water features scattered throughout the course.

While there are countless other courses in the area, I hope this list provides a good starting point for planning your golf experience in Coachella Valley. For more insights and things to do while heading to Coachella, check out our Coachella Festival Guide and California Destination Guide.