Must-play, must-stay: Four great Palm Springs golf resorts

By Travel ArticlesJune 19, 2012, 4:00 am

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- For desert guests: Prepping for a Coachella Valley golf getaway is akin to an American historian taking a trip to Philadelphia, a foodie traveling to New York or a gambler rolling into Las Vegas.

Palm Springs is the proverbial kid in a confectionery for golfers, and the options for diverse play are limitless.

As are the choices for accommodation to complement your rounds.

Here are four top options for area resorts with exceptional 'play and stay' facilities that are certain to ensure your travel meets high expectations.

Indian Wells Golf Resort

The 36-holes on at Indian Wells Golf Resort sparkled upon the Golf Channel's 'Big Break Indian Wells' in the spring and summer of 2011.

Start with the inviting water and flower features of the Clive Clark-drawn Celebrity Course before taking on the tougher, bunker-heavy round of John Fought's Players Course the next day. The driven will want to check out the on-site Callaway Performance Center or study at the Bird Golf Academy while the casual player will enjoy the nine-hole, natural-grass putting course.

The clubhouse is brilliant and well matched in stature by the dining at the IW Club. After dinner or a drink on the patio, turn in at one of four hotel options that adjoin the resort. Groups or parties will want to look into the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, while a more intimate stay may be found at the Hyatt Grand Champions.

For a top spa treatment, book at the Miramonte. At the Indian Wells Resort Hotel, reserve a seat for Frank DiSalvo's Thursday through Saturday croonings in the aptly named 'Frank's Place' lobby lounge.

La Quinta Resort & Spa and PGA West

Match desert history with new memories at La Quinta Resort. Opened in 1926, this is the desert's longest-running resort property, and the 45-acres host an impressive array of amenity for all styles of getaway.

From celebrated spa treatments (for both humans and their pets) to 23 tennis courts (both hard and clay) to one of the region's top dining choices at Morgan's in the Desert -- the resort nears its 90th anniversary with award-winning aplomb.

Oh, and there's some golf to be played here as well. Known as 'The Western Home of Golf in America,' a luminary cast of designers combine for nine courses (five public) that count among the most unique and inspired in the Valley.

For a three-day stay, start with Pete Dye's Mountain Course, which weaves a magical back nine that takes you through the Santa Rosa Mountains. Warmed-up and properly mellowed, move over to the Greg Norman Course at PGA West, which combines a dearth of both homes (fewer than 200) and turf (less than 70 acres) with the lining of Decomposed Granite to sport a round meshed with outback solitude and a shark's teeth. To wrap up the vacation, test the skills at Dye's TPC Stadium Course, where water, slick greens and ample undulation make for one of the toughest courses in all of California.

Marriott's Shadow Ridge

One of the Valley's most thorough golf experiences combines Nick Faldo's first American course design with an instructional institute bearing his name (just one of two in the country) and an on-site Master Clubfitter's Workshop.

Year-round promotions place additional shine on Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club. A free round is presented with a lesson, and huge discounts on lodgings are offered for those studying their swing at either the two- or three-day golf schools (offering four hours of personalized instruction per day). A cost breakdown for both options on the getaway scorecard finds savings of nearly 30 percent for your multi-day lesson combined with lodgings in a one-bedroom villa.

When booking, be sure to inquire about rooms along the three finishing holes, where friends and family of students have a stadium view of how those lessons apply to the playing grounds.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

Few locations in the region can offer the all-encompassing experience of Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Start the day soaring with a round at Eagle Falls Golf Course, the desert's newest, 18-hole championship course that serves as host to both the annual Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitation and the Playboy Golf Scramble.

The Clive Clark design combines pleasing solitude with renowned conditions and challenging elevation changes to count this among the top-10 public facilities in the Coachella Valley.

Post round, segue to the cache of gaming and entertainment options that encircle the casino floor. The Special Events Center brings in some of the desert's best bookings, while the outdoor Rock Yard offers a free, regular series of tribute acts on Saturday nights. Dining choices abound for all styles of party, and a family-driven trip will no doubt roll to the bowling fun at Fantasy Lanes.

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McCarthy wins Tour Championship by 4

By Associated PressSeptember 24, 2018, 2:14 am

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Denny McCarthy won the season-ending Tour Championship on Sunday to earn fully exempt PGA Tour status and a spot in the Players Championship.

McCarthy closed with a 6-under 65 for a four-stroke victory over Lucas Glover at Atlantic Beach Country Club. The 25-year-old former Virginia player earned $180,000 to top the 25 PGA Tour card-earners with $255,793 in the four-event Tour Finals.

''It's been quite a journey this year,'' McCarthy said. ''The PGA Tour was tough to start out the year. I stuck through it and got my game. I raised my level and have been playing some really good golf. Just feels incredible to finish off these Finals. So much work behind the scenes that nobody really sees.''

McCarthy finished at 23-under 261.

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, closed with a 69. He made $108,000 to finish seventh with $125,212 in the series for the top 75 players from the regular-season money list, Nos. 126-200 in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings, and non-members with enough money to have placed in the top 200.

Jim Knous earned the 25th and final card from the four-event money list with $41,931, edging Justin Lower by $500. Knous made a 5-foot par save on the final hole for a 71 that left him tied for 57th. Lower missed an 8-footer for birdie, settling for a 69 and a tie for 21st.

''It was a brutal day emotionally,'' Knous said. ''I wasn't quite sure how much my performance would affect the overall outcome. It kind of just depended on what everybody else did. That's pretty terrifying. So I really just kind of did my best to stay calm and inside I was really freaking out and just super psyched that at the end of the day finished right there on No. 25.''

The top-25 finishers on the regular-season money list competed against each other for tour priority, with regular-season earnings counting in their totals. Sungjae Im topped the list to earn the No. 1 priority spot of the 50 total cards.

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LaCava pushed Woods to work on bunker game

By Rex HoggardSeptember 24, 2018, 1:52 am

ATLANTA – Last week as Tiger Woods prepared to play the season finale at East Lake he sent a text message to his caddie Joey LaCava that simply asked, what do I need to do to get better?

Although when it comes to Woods his proficiency is always relative, but LaCava didn’t pull any punches, and as the duo completed the final round on Sunday at the Tour Championship with a bunker shot to 7 feet at the last the two traded knowing smiles.

“We had a talk last week about his bunker game and I said, ‘I’m glad you kept that bunker game stuff in mind,’” LaCava said. “I told him he was an average bunker player and he worked at it last week. There were only two bunker shots he didn’t get up-and-down, I don’t count the last one on 18. He recognized that after two days. He was like, ‘What do you know, I’m 100 percent from the bunkers and I’m in the lead after two days.”

Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

For the week, Woods got up-and-down from East Lake’s bunkers seven out of nine times and cruised to a two-stroke victory for his first PGA Tour title since 2013. That’s a dramatic improvement over his season average of 49 percent (100th on Tour).

“His bunker game was very average coming into this week,” LaCava said. “I said you’ve got to work on your bunker game. If you had a decent bunker game like the Tiger of old you would have won [the BMW Championship].”

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For Woods, is this only the beginning?

By Damon HackSeptember 24, 2018, 1:42 am

If this is Tiger Woods nine months into a comeback, wait until he actually shakes the rust off.

This was supposed to be the year he kicked the tires, to see how his body held up after all those knives digging into his back.

To see if a short game could truly be rescued from chunks and skulls.

To see if a 42-year-old living legend could outfox the kids.

On the final breath of the PGA Tour season, it was Tiger Woods who took ours away.

Playing alongside Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club – and one group behind the current World No. 1 and eventual FedEx Cup champion Justin Rose – Woods bludgeoned the field and kneecapped Father Time. 

It was Dean Smith and the Four Corners offense.  Emmitt Smith moving the chains. Nolan Ryan mowing them down.

And all of a sudden you wonder if Phil Mickelson wishes he’d made alternate Thanksgiving plans.

Even if everybody saw a win coming, it was something else to actually see it happen, to see the man in the red shirt reach another gear just one more time.

Win No. 80 reminded us, as Roger Maltbie once said of Woods when he came back from knee surgery in 2009: “A lot of people can play the fiddle. Only one guy is Itzhak Perlman.”

It wasn’t long ago that Tiger Woods seemed headed toward a disheartening final chapter as a broken man with a broken body.

Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

He would host a couple of tournaments, do some great charity work, shout instructions into a walkie talkie at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and call it a career.

There would be no Nicklaus 1986 Masters moment, no Hogan Mystique at Merion.

He would leave competitive golf as perhaps both the greatest to ever play the game and its greatest cautionary tale.

Willie Mays with the New York Mets. Muhammad Ali taking punishment from Larry Holmes.

But then Brad Faxon and Rickie Fowler started whispering at the end of 2017 that Tiger was healthy and hitting the ball hard. 

There was that hold-your-breath opening tee shot at the Hero World Challenge, a bullet that flew the left bunker and bounded into the fairway.

Rollercoaster rides at Tampa and Bay Hill, backward steps at Augusta and Shinnecock, forward leaps at The Open and the PGA.

He switched putters and driver shafts (and shirts, oh my!) and seemed at times tantalizingly close and maddeningly far.

That he even decided to try to put his body and game back together was one of the all-time Hail Marys in golf.

Why go through all of that rehab again?

Why go through the scrutiny of having your current game measured against your untouchable prime?

Because you’re Tiger Woods, is why, because you’ve had way more wonderful days on the golf course than poor ones, despite five winless years on the PGA Tour.

Suddenly, Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour wins is in jeopardy and Jack Nicklaus, holder of a record of 18 major championships, is at the very least paying attention.

Woods has put the golf world on notice.

It won’t be long until everyone starts thinking about the 2019 major schedule (and you’d better believe that Tiger already is).

The Masters, where he has four green jackets and seven other Top 5 finishes. The PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where he won in 2002 by 3. The United States Open at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2000 by 15.

The Open at Royal Portrush, where his savvy and guile will be a strong 15th club.

But that’s a talk for a later date.

Tiger is clearly still getting his sea legs back.

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Nonfactor McIlroy mum after lackluster 74

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 24, 2018, 1:04 am

ATLANTA – Rory McIlroy didn’t have anything to say to the media after the final round of the Tour Championship, and that’s understandable.

McIlroy began the final round at East Lake three shots behind Tiger Woods. He finished six back.

McIlroy closed in 4-over 74 to tie for seventh place.

In their matchup, Woods birdied the first hole to go four in front, and when McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 fourth, he was five in arrears. McIlroy went on to make three more bogeys, one double bogey and just two birdies.

Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy was never a factor on Sunday and ultimately finished tied for 13th in the FedExCup standings.

The two rivals, Woods and McIlroy, shared plenty of conversations while walking down the fairways. On the 18th hole, Woods said McIlroy told him the scene was like the 1980 U.S. Open when people were shouting, “Jack’s back!”

“I said, ‘Yeah, I just don’t have the tight pants and the hair,’” Woods joked. “But it was all good.”

It’s now off to Paris for the upcoming Ryder Cup, where Woods and McIlroy will again be foes. It will be McIlroy’s fifth consecutive appearance in the biennial matches, while Woods is making his first since 2012.