Golfing in the Desert

This article focuses on various golf courses in desert regions.

The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage

Just a short drive from downtown Palm Springs in Southern California, The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa enjoys a prime 360-acre setting in sunny Rancho Mirage boasting luxurious accommodations and championship golf.

Relax at one of the three pools at this world-class golf resort, or admire the mountains from a private patio. The hotel’s unique architecture and landscaping reflect the natural beauty of the Southern California desert, and the extensive recreational facilities-everything from golfing, basketball, soccer, biking and tennis, all taking advantage of the ideal climate and don’t forget to take advantages of the spa at this AAA Four-Diamond desert sanctuary resort. For More Information, Visit

The resort is located at the corner of Bob Hope and Dinah Shore drives, named for two celebrities intimately associated with the game of golf. Two championship courses are available to guests, the Pete Dye Course adjacent to the resort and the Gary Player Signature Course (a two minute drive).

Pete Dye Resort Course

(Reviewed by “Two Guys Who Golf”)

Designed by Pete Dye, ASGCA, the Pete Dye Golf Course opened in 1970. It’s one of the area’s loveliest, but toughest courses. The rolling fairways, water hazards, and four sets of tees provide a challenge for golfers of all skill levels.

Diabolically Dye, the course is distinguished by hidden pin placements, carries over water, pot bunkers, elevated tees, and railroad ties. This 6,706-yard, par 70, award-winning championship course is just steps away from the resort, and as such shares the same majestic mountain views.

The course features four sets of tees that play to distances and slopes measuring 6,706 yards/131 slope, 6,158 yards/126 slope, 5,587 yards/ 116 slope for men (and 126 for women) and 4,841 yards with a slope of 117 for ladies playing from the forward sets.

There are 64 sand bunkers situated along the fairways and greenside – some of them quite large and deep. A key to scoring well here is to hit the fairways while avoiding the sand traps and rough, which can make recoveries for par quite difficult. Most fairways are bordered by mounding and trees, which though not dense can certainly come into play on errant tee shots and approaches. The green complexes come in variety of shapes in sizes, with true running putting surfaces that are often raised, and protected by sand, depressions, grassy swales and collection areas. The sixth hole looks easy on the scorecard – a 330 yard par four – but golfers will need an extremely accurate approach to avoid the slope and deep rough situated immediately left of the plateau green complex.

Water comes into play on just five holes, but the challenge they present on these holes is quite formidable. This is particularly true of the par four 14th and par four 18th, which provide landing zones that are defined by ponds intruding upon the fairways. Golfers not executing a well placed tee shot, may find themselves laying up to a peninsula landing area and playing for an up and down with a wedge or short iron on the third shot. Generally, we found the back nine to be tighter off the tee, with trees and water squeezing the landing zones.

This is an extremely beautiful golf course, with outstanding mountain views at every turn. From the back tees, the challenge is formidable. The Gold tees provide a fair round with trouble lurking off the tee and greenside if proper shots are not executed. Seniors will enjoy the Jade tees, and women playing from the forward sets will find this experience very player friendly  – especially on the water holes, in which the hazards are basically taken out of play. This is a thoughtful design that allows vacationers to enjoy a wonderful experience, and scratch golfers to use all the tricks in their bag. This course is highly recommended.

Gary Player Signature Course

(Reviewed by “Two Guys Who Golf”)

This 7,062-yard, par 72 course is renowned for its environmentally careful integration with the desert landscape.

The Player Course is situated just a two minute drive from the resort property and features its own clubhouse with 1,000 square foot pro shop, the Gary Player Grill featuring indoor/outdoor eating facilities, a grass range and a practice green. Built in 1991, this course is open for public play and upon initiation was voted “One of the Top Ten New Resort Courses” in the United States by Golf Magazine. Considered to be one of the best courses in the Palm Springs area, this is the only Gary Player Signature course in Southern California. It has served as the home to the 1992 Senior PGA Tour Qualifying, the 1992/93 California State Open, 1992-99 and 2002 LPGA Tour Qualifying, 1993 US Open Local Qualifying, and the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Golf Tournament.

Four sets of tees play to distances and slopes measuring 7,062 yards/131 slope, 6,643 yards/124 slope, 6,044 yards/115 slope for men (and 130 for women) and 4,907 yards with a slope of 118 from the forward sets.

There are 68 sand bunkers situated on the perimeters of the well manicured fairways, or greenside near the medium sized, sloped putting surfaces. Water comes into play on 11 holes, with a few forced carries.

There is a nice mix of tightly tree lined landing zones, together with those that are open and meandering with generous playing areas. From the two back tees this is a formidable challenge, accentuated by the long par fours that require both precision and distance. Numbers one, two, four, nine, fourteen, sixteen and eighteen all play to distances covering more than 400 yards. From the Silver sets (6,044 yards) the layout is very playable for average golfers and high handicappers. From the forward tees many of the water hazards are basically taken out of play, with the exception of forced carries to the green complexes on the par three 5th and 12th and the par five 11th.

Land on the greens in regulation, and good scores can be had. Though the putting surfaces present slopes and ridges, most of the pin placements provide level areas which from which birdies and pars are possible. Pin placement sheets on the back of carts are helpful, indicating the day’s hole locations. Sprinkler heads are measured to the center of the green, and 150 yard stakes are visible on all par fours and fives. Golfers should appreciate the straight forward start, as holes one and two present good scoring opportunities. From there on challenges await in a variety of hole designs with one constant – the gorgeous mountain backdrops that frame the fairways, tees and greens as the course winds through an upscale residential community. The route finishes with a long par five and beautiful par four that can make or break a round.

With excellent conditioning, spectacular scenery and wonderful service – it is no wonder this course is recognized as one of the best in the Palm Springs area.

For more on resort of “Golfing in the Desert” visit our website at: or go to and read more on their reviews for golfing all over the U.S.


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