The Coachella Valley boasts more than 120 renowned golf courses, and Rancho Mirage’s Thunderbird Country Club (which opened in 1951 and boasted celebrities like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as home owners) claims that motorized gold carts were invented at its courses.
For some of the best courses in the desert (and the world) visit La Quinta’s PGA West, about 15 minutes from the Empire Polo Field. Half of its six championship courses are private, but out-of-towners can shoot its Stadium Resort Course (one of Golf magazine’s Top 100 Courses in the World and Golf Digest’s fourth toughest course in America), its Greg Norman-designed course (the only in the valley), and its Nicklaus Tournament Resort Course (a bi-annual host of the PGA Tour’s final round of Q-School along with the Stadium Resort Course). Rates range from $60 to $200 depending on the course and tee time. An excellent golf academy is also available to the public. Private lessons range from $125 to $175 per hour. Private lessons with a master instructor go up to $225 per hour.
On the other side of the desert, the Indian Canyons Golf Resort is not to be missed. First opened in 1961 as the Canyon Country Club and set on 550 acres of Native American tribal property, its fairways were the favorite of presidents Ronald Reagan, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Dwight D. Eisenhower and celebrities like Walt Disney, Dean Martin, Bob Hope, and Frank Sinatra. Morning tee times range from about $100 to $125 a person. (pgawest.com; indiancanyonsgolf.com)