It was time to go to work. What a way to start a Monday morning. I never knew that a desert could be so beautiful. The sky was cloudless and a deep blue an got up early to experience the famous Palm Desert sunrise. This was truly something magical and unforgetable.
I arrived at the golf course before my tee time and was met by Desert Dunes Head Pro Pat O’Donnell. We chatted for a bit about the golf course before my round.
“Desert Dunes is a golf course that you never get bored with.” He began.”It is fair for the average golfer and you don’t loose a lot of balls. The greens have a lot of undulation in them. You will want to play the course early in the day, because the wind has a tendency to kick up. Your time is eleven, so I don’t thik you will have a problem with the wind. The greens are elevated and tough, but putt true.” He continued.
The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Mr. O’Donnell explained that the designer felt that it was one of his best designs. The course was opened in 1989 and was acquired by a Canadian investment group in 2009. Their master plan calls for the property to become a destination site along the lines of a Marriot Resort, with the biggest difference being that the course will be away from the condominium development keeping the course’s desert feel. He also talked about how great a value the course was, with its very affordable green fees–$99 as a peak time rate between the hours of 8:00 A.M. And 11:00 A.M. and $79 before and after those times also offering a great twilight rate– and it was only ten minutes from Palm Springs International Airport.
On the first tee I was paired up with a couple from Alberta, Canada— Murray and May. He was a retired Doctor and she had just retired from nursing. We talked and I found out that many Canadians come down from Canada during the winter months to escape the cold of the north. I knew that many people come down from Canada to get away during the cold winters, but I thought most went to Florida. I was surprised at the number that came down to Palm Springs. Many have condominiums and homes in Palm Springs and spend much of the winter season there. Murray and May had just purchased a house in Desert Hot Springs. They were a delight to play with.
The course was in impeccable shape. Fairways were lush and green contrasting the dryness of the desert surroundings. The greens themselves were quick and undulating, but I found them to putt true as Mr. O’Donnell pointed out. Every hole was a joy to play, and there were only two lakes on the course to worry about.
Holes one and two were not very eventful, I thought. The fun and beauty actually started on hole number three and doesn’t stop. Three is a short par four that sort of gives you the feeling it keeps going up into the sky. The hole plays longer than it looks. Number four is a slight dogleg left and requires a precise tee shot in order to open up the green for an easier approach. That was one of the things I thought made the course interesting Many of the holes were doglegs and I think that was done by the designer to give the impression that each hole was isolated from the next, chiseled out of the desert landscape.
My favorite hole on the course was number 5. It is a short par three cut into a desert hollow. In front of the green is a desert vegetation collection area and the area around the green is a sort of oasis of green. It is very pleasing to the eye and can seem to be very intimidating because the tee shot has to be precise, if not you wind up in the chaparral that surrounds the green or in the desert sands in front of the green
Holes number 8 and 16 are the water holes. Number 8 is a mid-length par three which wraps around the lake. You have a decision to make. Do you go for the pin, which normally requires a carry over water, or do you safely bail out to the left giving a long put but perhaps saving par? How do you feel today? Hole number 16, a short par 5, gives you that same option with the hole wrapping around the second lake. You need to make another decision depending on your nerve and the placement of your second shot, safe to the left or gamble to the right over the lake.
A unique feature to the course is that holes number 9 and 18 share fairways and greens with an area of desert vegetation separating the fairways up by the shared green. There is also a bunker in the middle of the shared green.
My delightful day on the course with Murray and May ended and I returned to my condo. The mineral pool and spa called my name, as did the Resort’s specialty Sangria and appetizers. After dinner I stayed up for a while and then went to bed exhausted and ready for what tomorrow would bring.