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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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.