Golf Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley on three budgets

By Travel ArticlesJanuary 24, 2012, 5:00 am

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Sporting a diverse playing terrain and serving as annual host to both the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge (formerly the Bob Hope Classic) and the LPGA's first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship -- the Coachella Valley charts among the country's most unique golf pockets.

Here's a breakdown of how to plan your Palm Springs golf trip on three different budgets:

Coachella Valley golf on a high-end budget

The desert 'high season' refers to more than just the flock of snowbirds taking a winter respite. In short: If making the travel, be prepared to flip more than a C-note when making peak tee times at the area's deservedly-lauded top golf vacation destinations.

Any high-end trip to the Coachella Valley should begin at PGA West and the La Quinta Resort & Club. With five public (and nine total) courses offered by the umbrella ownership, the 'Western Home of Golf in America' presents an all-star cast of course designers.

Begin at the La Quinta Resort's Mountain Course. The back nine of the Pete Dye design is routed through some of the region's most inspired mountain terrain and presents an idyllic mesh of challenge, beauty and solitude.

Segue to PGA West's Greg Norman Course. This quiet desert gem sports a unique dearth of turf, carved by the surrounds of decomposed granite. Prepped for an advanced test, finish with the PGA West's TPC Stadium Course. Annually regarded among the best and toughest courses in the country, the Dye design poses as many adventures to annual Q-School finals visitors as it does to the amateur.

In the Mid-Valley, keep the pressure on at the Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert. Nick Faldo's debut domestic design is a monster on the front, and it will challenge throughout with Australian Sandbelt-inspired bunkering and a host of tough approaches. Also in Palm Desert is the Classic Club. A former host to the Hope Classic and offering one of the state's finest clubhouses, the stout course couples a challenge with ample nature sightings and a host of goodies that come with the price tag.

Both the Mountain View Course and the Firecliff Course at Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert are exceptional and echo the class and care of the choice clubhouse. If the plan is to play 36 holes of these immaculate course conditions, start with the former before moving on to the more demanding Firecliff.

Minutes away are the dual courses at Indian Wells Golf Resort. Among the most polished operations in the area, the scene is impressive from the moment you pull up to the clubhouse. Both the Celebrity Course and the Players Course impress with beauty and challenge.

On the east end of the Valley, check out the Indian Canyons Golf Resort's South Course. The very playable, tree-lined fairways and palm-framed greens present a chance to employ mid-iron skills that will find the accurate heading home with a scorecard sure to lower the handicap.

Coachella Valley golf on a mid-range budget

Dipping below the $100 mark doesn't translate to a dramatic descent in quality.

Don't miss out on The Golf Club at Terra Lago's North Course in Indio. While the facility's South Course charts as the tougher track on these grounds, the North counts among the top values in the region. The coupling of rustic surrounds and resort-style closing water holes create an experience matching memorability with playability.

The Santa Rosa Course and the San Gorgonio Course at Mountain Vista Golf Club are a pair of Billy Casper creations in Palm's Desert's Sun City community that are certain to appease with wide and well-groomed fairways and no shortage of holes to keep you honest.

In Desert Hot Springs, get major bang for the dollar at Desert Dunes Golf Club. Host to the Canadian Tour's annual Desert Dunes Classic, the Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design is a thesis in tranquility and nature. A windy day will serve as a name course defense, though a calm round will offer myriad scoring chances.

Coachella Valley golf on a valley budget

Deals are tough to pencil in for top courses at peak hours during a high-season visit, but don't overlook some sound value options. Many of these babies were crafted during a late-80s boom, but they still maintain relevance and won't dent the wallet above the $65 mark.

At Mission Lake Country Club in Desert Hot Springs, enjoy a design of the desert's most prolific hand, Ted Robinson, Sr., also known as 'The King of Waterscapes.'

In Palm Springs, Cimarron Golf Resort's Boulder Course (18 holes) and Pebble Course (nine holes) are dual John Fought designs that play over some of the Valley's most unique, untamed terrain.

Nearby is Mesquite Golf & Country Club, where ample tree-lining, mountain vistas and water play will make a fine desert impression.

Woodhaven Country Club in Palm Desert plays with entertaining ease, but it will grab the collar with a handful of risk-reward holes.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.

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Defending champ Gana co-leads Latin America Amateur

By Randall MellJanuary 20, 2018, 11:20 pm

Toto Gana moved into early position to try to win a return trip to the Masters Saturday by grabbing a share of the first-round lead at the Latin America Amateur Championship.

The defending champ posted a 3-under-par 68 at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Chile, equaling the rounds of Argentina’s Mark Montenegro and Colombia’s Pablo Torres.

They are one shot ahead of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz and Mario Carmona, Argentina’s Horacio Carbonetti and Jaime Lopez Rivarola and the Dominican Republic’s Rhadames Pena.

It’s a bunched leaderboard, with 19 players within three shots of each at the top of the board in the 72-hole event.

“I think I have my game under control,” said Gana, 20, a freshman at Lynn University. “I hit the ball very well, and I also putted very well. So, I am confident about tomorrow.”

The LAAC’s champion will get more than a Masters invitation. He also will be exempt into the The Amateur, the U.S. Amateur and any other USGA event he is eligible to play this year. The champion and players who finish runner-up are also exempt into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open.

The LAAC was founded by the Masters, the R&A and the USGA, with the purpose of further developing amateur golf in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.