The biggest sporting event in Palm Springs isn't the Bob Hope Classic, it's the BNP Paribas Open on the ATP in Indian Wells beginning this week, coinciding with the desert's peak spring golf season.
The Palm Springs region has about 125 golf courses, and many of them tie into residential or retirement communities. Just fly into the Palm Springs airport and on the descent you'll notice scores of fairways that wind through housing. But I played three public courses last week in Palm Springs and was never worried about the dreaded duck hook into a window.
Yes, public golf exists in the Coachella Valley where you're not weaving through condos.
The Indian Wells Golf Resort, who's clubhouse will serve as one of the main viewing centers of the tennis event nearby, features two new golf courses opened in 2006 and 2007, built over their original routings from 1986. Now, Indian Wells' Player Course and Celebrity Course are both showy, scenic plays in tip-top shape. The Celebrity in particular has some tight holes, but it's via tall trees and water hazards, not backyards. While slightly less visually dramatic, the Player course is a little more forgiving in most spots but features the same fast, tour-quality conditions this time of year.
Out in Palm Desert, former Bob Hope Classic venue the Classic Club boasts 240 acres of golf and only golf. It also holds the distinction of being a rare course without palm trees, instead its littered with pines. Some say its windier than most area courses, but I'd prefer a few degrees of wind over tight driving corridors any day.