Palm Springs visitor guide: Golfing Desert Horizons in Indian Wells

I love to golf while in Palm Springs.  The gorgeous scenery, warm air and mountain views, plus almost unbelievably perfect weather make golf a great passtime while on vacation. This trip, we’d been invited to play Desert Horizons Country Club in Indian Wells, California by a friend. Since my husband and I don’t get too many invitations to play golf at a luxe private club, we jumped at the chance.

Checking out desert horizons country club in indian wells california with off course golfGolfing Desert Horizons Country Club

By Roger Kingkade, OffCourseGolf

“Make special note of the differences between the front nine and back nine. The front nine has brand new greens and bunkers. The back nine renovation will take place this summer,” was the note I got from Damien Gallardo, General Manager of Desert Horizons Country Club in Indian Wells, California.

We were excited to experience this course.Checking out desert horizons country club in indian wells california with off course golf

Here’s what I initially thought: We’d be playing two dramatically different nines. The front nine would have beautiful white sand bunkers that remind me of a  beach vacation. Perfect rolling greens with lush flowerbeds all around. The back nine would be more like a muni. I nice muni with nice homes lining the fairways, but a muni all the same.

I was quite right and fantastically wrong. Let me explain.

Front nine renovation – Desert Horizons

I read in the Desert Sun  that some of the old bunkers had some nasty downhill lies and that there were some features on the course that weren’t too “friendly,” most notably a hill on the sixth fairway that made it tough to see the green and a water hazard on approach.

Sand traps were fun, not frustrating

I was in and out of the sand all day and the thing I noticed the most was how easy it was to get out of the bunkers. I don’t mean getting my ball out. I mean physically stepping into and out of the bunkers. It’s probably the major difference I noted from the front and the back nines.

As for a hill on the sixth fairway… I’ll just have to take the members’ word that it was once there. I’m glad I only experienced the sixth hole with unobstructed views of the green and the water feature. It’s one of the most memorably lovely golf holes I’ve played in a long time.

Checking out desert horizons country club in indian wells california with off course golf

The 6th hole at Desert Horizons Country Club in Indian Wells.


Back nine – Desert Horizons

We made the turn and expected things to change dramatically. In truth, they did and they didn’t.

First off, we can immediately dismiss the notion that the back was going to be “closer to a muni” as I said before. In fact, I felt kind of bad for thinking so.

Challenging layout, great turfdesert-horizons-indian-wells-golf-2

The entire course has a great and challenging layout. The turf is in spectacular condition and the greens were dynamite.

(A word on the greens. The greens on the front nine were pristine. The greens on the back nine were fantastic. Basically A+ on the front and A on the back. Kudos to the turf department!)

The bunkers on the back are noticeably different and will benefit from the same treatment as the front nine. And the newly landscaped beds from the front will be an amazing addition to the back.

Above all, and I think this is probably the biggest thing that made the round so enjoyable for me, was that the renovation included the addition of a new set of forward tees that make the course play at 4,350 yards. That made the course more manageable and loads of fun.

This entire renovation was financed through voluntary contributions from certain members. That’s remarkable.

There’s a lot for the members at Desert Horizons to be proud of. The service we experienced from door-to-door was phenomenal. The golf course was too. Well done.


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Erin L