How Palm Desert became a Golf destination is an intriguing tale that combines history, celebrity influence, and world-class golf course design. This sun-drenched oasis in Southern California has transformed into one of the most sought-after golfing destinations for both amateur and casual players alike.

This post takes a look back at the beginnings of golf in Palm Desert, examining how the initial 18-hole course was established. We’ll also delve into Bob Hope’s connection to Canyon Country Club, which played a significant role in putting Palm Desert on the map as a premier golf location.

As we journey through Coachella Valley’s top-ranked golf resorts such as Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club designed by Nick Faldo, you’ll discover what makes these courses so special. Furthermore, we’ll examine municipal golf mania & executive courses like Indio’s longest executive course and how they have spread across Greater Palm Springs.

We cannot discuss How Palm Desert became a Golf destination without mentioning Arnold Palmer’s impact on SilverRock Resort or exploring popular courses like Indian Wells Golf Resort’s nationally-ranked layouts. Finally, amidst pandemic challenges, witness the resurgence of interest in local courses with increased rounds played and PGA TOUR Superstore’s success story right here in Palm Desert.

Table of Contents:

The Roots of Palm Desert Golf

Palm Desert’s golfing history dates back to its first 18-hole course and Bob Hope’s affiliation with Canyon Country Club, which helped establish the area as a top golf destination.

First 18-hole Course in Palm Desert

The opening of the first 18-hole course in Palm Desert transformed this desert oasis into a popular hub for Palm Springs golf, attracting players seeking new challenges on world-class courses.

Bob Hope’s Influence on Canyon Country Club

Bob Hope’s association with Canyon Country Club elevated its status and helped promote Palm Desert as a premier golf destination, leading to the development of additional high-quality courses at Indian Wells Golf Resort, PGA West, and Desert Willow Golf Resort.

Prestigious Tournaments in Coachella Valley

The beautiful Coachella Valley has hosted numerous prestigious golf tournaments, solidifying Palm Desert as a top-tier golf destination.

  • ANA Inspiration: This major championship on the LPGA Tour attracts some of the world’s best female golfers and is held at the stunning Mission Hills Country Club.
  • The American Express: Formerly known as CareerBuilder Challenge, this event features both amateur and professional players competing side-by-side at the famed PGA West course in La Quinta.
  • Indian Canyons Golf Resort: This resort boasts two championship courses and is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
  • Desert Willow Golf Resort: With two award-winning courses, this resort is a must-play destination for any golfer visiting Palm Desert.
  • Canyon Country Club: This private club offers a challenging course and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Countless other competitions take place throughout the year across various clubs within Indian Wells Golf Resort, further elevating Palm Desert’s status among avid golfer circles worldwide.

Luminary Course Designers’ Contributions

Iconic courses designed by legendary architects have made Palm Desert a top golf destination, attracting players from all over the world.

  • Nick Faldo-designed Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club: Strategically bunkered and visually stunning, this championship-caliber course offers an unforgettable golfing experience.

Other renowned designers like Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Fazio have also left their mark on various courses throughout Palm Desert.

These courses not only present a challenge, but also display the area’s natural beauty, making them popular among golfers from all over.

The contributions made by these esteemed designers continue to elevate Palm Desert’s reputation as one of America’s premier golf meccas, attracting countless enthusiasts each year who are eager to test their skills on these iconic courses while enjoying breathtaking views at every turn.

Some of the other notable golf courses in Palm Desert include Indian Canyons Golf Resort, Desert Willow Golf Resort, Indian Wells Golf Resort, PGA West, and Canyon Country Club.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a casual player, Palm Desert’s golf courses offer a unique and unforgettable experience that you won’t find anywhere else.

Municipal Golf Mania and Indio Executive Courses

The municipal golf mania in Palm Desert started over 50 years ago with the construction of the Indio executive course, one of the longest executive courses in America, which paved the way for other cities in Coachella Valley to invest in municipal golf facilities.

Home to the beautiful Desert Willow Golf Resort, Palm Desert offers two stunning courses – Firecliff Course and Mountain View Course.

Palm Springs boasts historical landmarks like the iconic Indian Canyons Golf Resort.

Cathedral City features The Golf Club at La Quinta, a favorite among locals due to its well-maintained greens and fairways.

These municipal investments have made Palm Desert a golf destination, attracting players from all over the world to experience its beautiful courses and perfect weather.

Arnold Palmer’s Impact on SilverRock Resort

The golfing landscape in Palm Desert owes much of its prominence to Arnold Palmer, whose influence extended beyond his legendary playing career.

One such example is the opening of SilverRock Resort in 2005, a stunning course designed by Palmer himself.

SilverRock quickly became a must-play location for avid golfers worldwide, thanks to its challenging layout and picturesque setting against the Santa Rosa Mountains backdrop.

The resort features an immaculate 18-hole championship course that showcases Arnold Palmer’s signature design elements, including strategically placed bunkers and water hazards.

This esteemed resort further elevated Palm Desert as a top-tier golf destination when it hosted the former Bob Hope Classic (now known as American Express) from 2008-2011.

This prestigious PGA Tour event attracted some of the biggest names in professional golf, drawing attention to both SilverRock and other surrounding courses like Indian Wells Golf Resort and Desert Willow Golf Resort.

Arnold Palmer’s lasting impact on Palm Desert can be seen through his dedication towards promoting junior golf programs at local clubs such as Canyon Country Club and PGA West.

His legacy continues to inspire new generations of amateur players who are chasing par excellence while enjoying all that this beautiful region has to offer.

Popular Golf Courses and Resorts

Palm Desert is a golfer’s paradise, with world-renowned courses like Indian Wells Golf Resort managed by Troon Golf, offering two nationally-ranked courses for players of all levels.

For a challenging yet unforgettable experience, head to Desert Willow Golf Resort, where you can choose between the Firecliff Course or the more accessible Mountain View Course, both with stunning views of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

  • Indian Wells Golf Resort: Two nationally-ranked courses managed by Troon Golf.
  • Desert Willow Golf Resort: Choose between the challenging Firecliff Course or the more accessible Mountain View Course.

These luxurious golf spots have helped Palm Desert become a world-renowned place for the sport, drawing in players from everywhere with their extraordinary amenities and picturesque scenery.

Historical Landmarks in Palm Springs Area

The Indian Canyons Golf Resort, opened in 1961 on tribal land leased from several members, is a major milestone in establishing Palm Desert as a top-tier golf destination.

Canyon Country Club, known for hosting glitzy affairs and attracting celebrities like Bob Hope, played a significant role in shaping Palm Desert into the popular golfing hub it is today.

The Wexler-Harrison clubhouse at Indian Canyons Golf Resort, reopened by local neighborhood association, features double-height glass panels overlooking stunning views of these famous greens, serving as a testament to the rich history and culture surrounding Palm Springs golf.

  • Hosting Frank Sinatra Invitational Tournament: Attracting attention from amateur and casual players alike with high-profile events.
  • Indian Wells Golf Resort: A renowned course throughout the region.
  • PGA West Course: Another top-tier course in the area.
  • Desert Willow Golf Resort: A must-visit for those chasing par excellence.

With these historical landmarks and numerous other renowned courses throughout the region, it’s no wonder that Palm Springs is a premier golf destination.

Pandemic Challenges and Resurgence in Interest

Despite pandemic restrictions, Palm Springs golf courses like Indian Wells Golf Resort, Desert Willow Golf Resort, and the historic Canyon Country Club have seen an uptick in players.

According to Golf Datatech, rounds played increased by up to 14% year-over-year, proving that golf is a safe and enjoyable outdoor activity.

  • Indian Wells Golf Resort offers two nationally-ranked courses for both amateur and casual golfers.
  • The picturesque Desert Willow Golf Resort offers both challenging and player-friendly courses against a stunning Santa Rosa Mountains backdrop.
  • The iconic Canyon Country Club has hosted celebrities like Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra over the years.

Rediscover the joys of golf while surrounded by Palm Desert’s beautiful landscapes.

FAQs in Relation to How Palm Desert Became a Golf Destination

Why is Palm Desert famous?

Palm Desert is famous for its stunning desert landscape, luxurious resorts, and world-class golf courses, including Indian Canyons Golf Resort, Desert Willow Golf Resort, and Canyon Country Club.

How many golf courses are in the Palm Desert area?

There are over 100 golf courses in the Coachella Valley area, with more than 30 located in Palm Desert alone.

How many golf courses are there in Palm Springs and Palm Desert?

Between both cities, there are approximately 60-70 top-quality public and private golf facilities available to players of all skill levels.

When was Palm Desert Resort Country Club built?

The Palm Desert Resort Country Club, featuring an 18-hole championship course designed by Billy Bell Jr., was established in 1980 and quickly gained popularity among local residents and visitors.


Palm Desert’s rich history and impressive courses have made it a top golf destination.

From the first 18-hole course to Arnold Palmer’s SilverRock Resort, the city continues to attract amateur and casual golfers alike.

Despite pandemic challenges, Palm Desert’s popularity as a golf destination has only grown stronger in recent years.

An increase in rounds played and the success of PGA TOUR Superstore in the area prove that this city is a top choice for golf enthusiasts.

Discover how Palm Desert became a remarkable golf destination!

Chasing Par Team