The Most Charming Golf Courses in and around Palm Springs

by Paul Joseph  |  Published May 22, 2023

Set against a mountainous backdrop, Palm Springs is a mecca for golfers, with top-class coursed dotted in and around the Californian desert city.

(Photo: Desert Willow Golf Resort)

With 9 courses located within the city itself and almost 90 within an easy drive away, Palm Springs and its surroundings make for one of America’s finest golfing destinations. One of the major draws is the chance to play amid stunning natural scenery, with three dramatic mountain ranges – The San Jacinto, The Santa Rosa and The San Bernadino – enveloping the area, making a round of golf a thrilling experience. We’ve picked out 7 of the best golf courses in the city and close by.

The Firecliff Course (Desert Willow Golf Resort)

One of two pristinely-landscaped championship courses at the Desert Willow Golf Resort, situated 13 miles southeast of downtown Palm Springs, the Firecliff Course offers the perfect blend of playability and aesthetics. A mix of desert and grass sprinkled with an abundance of plant life, plus a dramatic mountainous backdrop, make for a breath-taking golfing setting. The public course measures just over 7,000 yards and delivers a true test of skill for golfers who are required to negotiate their way around extensive natural areas, numerous water features and dozens of bunkers.

The Celebrity Course (Indian Wells Golf Resort)

(Photo: Indian Wells Golf Resort)

Located 17 miles southeast of downtown Palm Springs, the Celebrity Course is the more recent of the two courses to be designed at the Indian Wells Golf Resort, quickly receiving widespread acclaim after opening in 2007. Featuring dynamic bunkering, generous fairway corridors and undulating topography, the classic American course is visually eye-catching and provides a challenge to all abilities, but is perhaps best suited to the mid-handicap golfer. Most of the holes are oriented to optimise the magnificent views of the nearby mountain ranges, lending a sense of drama to every round of golf.

Escena Golf Club

Nestled in the picture-postcard Coachella Valley, just under 5 miles northeast of downtown Palm Springs, the course at Escena Golf Club blends championship golf with a classic Palm Springs setting. The towering San Jacinto Mountains and blue desert skies frame the flight of every tee shot, while abundant palm trees, native desert landscaping and dramatic waterscapes add to the sensory feast. As for playability, the course is noted for its unobstructed sightlines, generous driving corridors and overall strength of design, with strategically placed bunkers, water hazards, contoured greens and back tees stretching to nearly 7,200 yards presenting a challenge to all golfers.

Silver Rock Resort Golf Course

(Photo: SilverRock Resort)

If you’re happy to venture beyond the Greater Palm Springs area, Silver Rock, situated 26 miles south of downtown in the desert resort city of La Quinta, stands out as one of the most spectacular and fun courses you can play in the entire region. Set in the shadows of a towering mountain, the championship course’s emerald green turf, enormous white sand bunkers, and various water features create a vibrant setting for a round of golf. Challenges throughout comes from the native areas and bunkering, several lakes, and large, undulating green. The variety of holes, unique appearance, and magnificent mountain that almost brushes the playing field make for a memorable day of golf for everyone who plays here.

Eagle Falls Golf Course

Another course outside Palm Springs, Eagle Falls is about 25 miles southeast of downtown in the city of Indio and benefits from an almost complete absence of built-up structures nearby, serving up fabulous views from every hole. Instead, renowned architect Clive Clark has taken a parcel of the local desert and carved a golfer’s masterpiece with elevations and water features not usually seen on a course open for public play. The 6,715 yard course has been designed to test everyone from the low to the high handicapper, with a number of elevated tees and greens, testing bunkers, and wide fairways serving up a real test.

The Palm Course (JW Marriott Resort & Spa)

(Photo: JW Marriott Desert Springs)

Set on the site of the luxurious JW Marriott Resort & Spa, 13 miles southeast of downtown Palm Springs, the Palm Golf Course is one of two championship courses at this destination, both designed by Ted Robinson, aka the King of Waterscapes. Spanning over 6,500 yards, the course is true to its designer’s signature style, complemented by sprawling water features, rolling greens and player-friendly conditions that all skill levels can enjoy. Locals and visitors alike flock here for the course’s array of postcard-worthy holes adorned with thick palm trees, colourful flowers, and picturesque water features complete with decorative stonework. Perhaps the highlight is the final four holes, all water-bound, which make for one of the most impressive stretches of golfs you’ll find in or around Palm Springs.

The Mountain Course (La Quinta Resort)

Perched at the base of the picturesque Santa Rosa Mountains in the Coachella Valley, and famed for its Pete Dye design, playability and stunning visuals, the Mountain Course at La Quinta Resort, combines jaw-dropping scenery with wonderful playability. Situated 21 miles southwest of downtown Palm Springs, the course’s pot bunkers, rock formations, elevations of tee boxes and well-bunkered greens poses an exacting challenge, but at the same time it is eminently playable for less accomplished golfers. The historic, Spanish-style La Quinta Resort & Club, which dates back to  1926, is just next door.