Golf courses in the desert, surrounded by numerous sets of mountains makes for a perfect oasis. No mirages here, just a perfect pairing of life among the lifeless. Sun seekers have been vacationing in the Coachella Valley for decades, just as long as the golfers have been teeing up. Looking for the best courses in this rugged landscape dotted with greens and spectacular resorts; We created a list of the top 15 courses based upon reviews by Golf Channel, Golf Advisor, USA Today, Desert Caddie and Palm Springs Life using their rankings and averaging the scores. Here is the results of our tabulations:
1. Desert Willow Golf Resort
Desert Willow Golf Resort is 36 Holes of Award-Winning Golf. This public facility offers two championship Southern California golf courses designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry. The Firecliff Course is a tournament tested layout and one of only three courses in California. Measuring 7,056 yards, Firecliff features extensive natural areas, over 100 bunkers, and numerous water features. The Mountain View course offers wider fairways with more forgiving fairways, 98 well-placed bunkers, sloping greens and seven water features.
Cost: $55 - $155
2. Indian Wells Golf Resort
This resort is really tied for first in a valley filled with outstanding resorts. Meticulously landscaped with natural desert fauna, towering palm trees, and a wide variety of different colored plants, these courses keep the beauty coming with the occasional waterfall, crystal clear pond, and meandering creek. Couple all of that with natural sand areas, lush green fairways, and white sand bunkers, and you have a top ten golf memory.
Cost: $79 - $199
3. Shadow Ridge Golf Club
This Australian Sandbelt-inspired Golf Club in Palm Desert is one of the region's best short-game challenges in the valley. With 89 bunkers and massive undulating green structures, you'll need every club you have in the bag. Newcomers will find this course gorgeous and frustrating.
Cost: $49 - $149
4. SilverRock Resort
A challenging 7,578 yards sprawling over 200 acres with massive native bunkers and stunning water features. This course is set against the backdrop and natural beauty of the Santa Rosa Mountains in a way that no other course has. You won't receive any hand-holding in this design. There is plenty of planned beauty to take in such as plantings, rocks and waste areas, all of which narrow, pinch and bite at the edges of the fairways.
Cost: $40 - $170
5. Escena Golf Club
Escena is set against the backdrop of the towering San Jacinto Mountains under the deep blue desert skies. Abundant palm trees, native desert landscaping and dramatic waterscapes create a stunning oasis. This course offers unobstructed sight-lines and generous driving corridors but don't be fooled, the design includes strategically placed bunkers, water hazards and undulating greens to challenge the best golfers.
Cost: $49 - $95
6. The Classic Club
A club with a reputation for being "windy", the Classic is one of just eight golf courses in the Coachella Valley to have earned status as a "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary." With 5,000 plantings, 30 acres of water, and flowing undulation this 7,300 yards offer some of the best opportunities for unique wildlife spotting along the way.
Cost: $104 - $175
7. La Quinta Resort
At roughly 6,700 yards from the tournament tees, the Mountain is fairly short by today’s standards. But what it may lack in distance, it makes up for in breathtaking views, lush desert landscaping, unique rock formations, and the ever-changing tee and green elevations. One of the signature holes is #16, a 167-yard par-3 that is built right into the side of the Santa Rosa Mountains. It has a 30-foot drop from tee to green and gives you a view of the Salton Sea over 40 miles away.
Cost: $89 - $159
8. Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa
A literal desert oasis with 20 acres of water and rock features, this course offers four sets of tee boxes stretching it from over 7,000 yards for the pros, down to 5,000 yards for those needing a little less challenge. A traditional par-72 layout combines the beauty of the desert with a very playable course. Mission Hills' tranquil setting and generous fairways are framed picturesque waterscapes, rock formations and fescue grasses all backed by a 360 degree view of the surrounding valley. If you are looking for a low key, great golfing day, book a tee time here.
Cost: $60 - $116
9. Indian Canyons Golf Resort
The South course plays approximately 6,600 yards, while it measures 4,800 yards from the front; this is a favorite destination for female golfers of all skill levels around the world. Sitting below the San Jacinto Mountains, the South has over 1,300 palm trees of which five hundred and fifty are Washingtonia filiferas, the only palm native to the Western United States. With its four expansive lakes covering six holes, lush rolling fairways, and well-placed, mounded roughs this course lays out a bit different from regular par-72 courses with five par-3s and five par-5s, making it really fun to play. Hole three is a remarkable par-5 that meanders along the base of the mountain, making it one of the most memorable.
Cost: $65 - $120
10. Heritage Palms Golf Club
A gem of the desert, this 18-hole, Par 72 championship Arthur Hills-designed course brings you a well nurtured and enticing course. Designed for enjoyment, Heritage Palms provides 6,722 yards of pleasure. with its 4 large lakes and plethora of greenside bunkers.
Cost: $40 - $115
11. PGA West Golf Club
PGA West includes six courses, 3 are resort courses, 3 are private. The newest of the three resort courses at PGA WEST, the Greg Norman course is described as "challenging but fair." At 7,200-yards, Norman's "Outback" experience has only 68 acres of lush manicured turf, dotted with 102 white crushed marble bunkers and surrounded with the shark blue water on 9 holes. Looking for a course even more challenging, book a tee time at Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course with a stroke rating of 75.3. Still looking for more, then go for the trifecta with the Stadium course at 7,300 yards and the highest stroke (76.1) and slope (150) ratings of all the PGA WEST courses.
Cost: $89 - $149
12. Eagle Falls Golf Course
Many describe their initial impression of this course as odd or funny because of its location. Translated, in the middle of nowhere and next to a casino. For everyone who has played the course, that opinion changes to a great value and an enjoyable game. Eagle Falls is designed by the same Clive Clark of Indian Wells fame, and has similar arrays of florals, native plants and water features layered into this par 72, 6715 yards of pleasurable golf frugality.
Cost: $39 - $95
13. Palm Royale Country Club
This beautiful eighteen hole, par three, 1,992 yard course is the ultimate short course experience. Scenic and challenging, Palm Royale features undulating fairways guarded by strategically placed lakes and sand hazards. Greens positioned to challenge both novice and professional golfers.
Cost: $31 Member Rate
14. Mountain Vista Golf Club
he Mountain Vista Golf Course is a Par 72, championship golf course comprised of two 18-hole courses. Reward yourself with a tee time on this masterpiece designed by former PGA Tour great and two-time PGA Player of the Year, Billy Casper. Set amidst the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and San Gorgonio mountain ranges, the views from the golf course are truly spectacular. Golfers are treated to cascading waterfalls, emerald green fairways trimmed with beautiful flowers and palm trees.
Cost: $49 - $90
15. The Golf Club at La Quinta
Set at the base of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains of La Quinta, California, this 18-hole championship Southern California golf course includes dramatic water features and sand perils that complement the golf course fairways. The natural California desert landscape of the surrounding Coachella Valley creates a boundary of play both beautiful and daunting.