LA QUINTA, Calif. -- While the Coachella Valley presents no shortage of stay, play and pamper options, one needs to search no further than the dual-ownership grounds of La Quinta Resort & Club and PGA West to experience total culmination of desert pleasures.
Combining five public golf courses with a full menu of accommodation and amenity options, "The Western Home of Golf in America" proves a historic oasis for visitors to Palm Springs and the greater surrounds.
The cast of golf design luminaries across these grounds presents a diverse array of play options.
A pair of Pete Dye publics on the La Quinta Resort grounds match equal parts scenery and substance. Though measured in distance and presenting oft-benign landing areas, the raised, slick greens of La Quinta's Dunes Course ask for ongoing consistency with wedges and low irons. For a (literally) heightened experience, ensure a round at the photogenic Mountain Course, where the back nine winds through the Santa Rosa Mountains and provides some of the most memorable topography in all of Southern California.
Two of the three publics at PGA West serve as a master's degree for games graduated to mid-to-low handicap status. As evidence of the tests: Both the Nicklaus Tournament Course and Dye's infamous Stadium Course were longtime hosts to the PGA Tour's Qualifying School finals before Tour status changes remarked these grounds for hosting the finals of Web.com Tour qualifying.
The Nicklaus and Stadium track among the desert's most challenging rounds. The Nicklaus presents testy landing zones and well guarded greens. The Stadium serves as a thesis of nuanced mounding and demanding round closure. To wit: The lengthy, par-5 16th sports continual bunkering along the left before the "Alcatraz" island green on no. 17 serves as (mean) sister to Dye's TPC Sawgrass design. Rounding home offers a long par 4 with water along the left and tough bunkering across the right side of the fairway.
For an excellent mix of gravity and solitude, players shouldn't miss the Greg Norman Course. Getable for the return player and worthy of study for newcomers, the grounds -- located a short walkabout from PGA West headquarters -- have a peaceful, easy way about them. Presenting a dearth of homes and with a paucity of turf (just 68 acres), few publics in the desert combine this kind of awesome isolation with such pristine manicuring. Some target golf comes into play here, so study the GPS consistently while learning how to navigate the course's unique decomposed granite lining.
Four private courses
PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private and Jack Nicklaus Private Courses are of foremost renown, serving as two of the three tracks played for the PGA Tour's annual Humana Challenge in mid-January. Additionally, PGA West is home to the Tom Weiskopf Private Course.
At La Quinta Resort, Dye's desert resume finds further revere at the members-only Citrus Club.
Dining and amenities
Post-round leisure abounds at La Quinta Resort & Club, where desert guests have been soaking in secluded flavor since 1926. Idyllic for coupling sojourns, golf getaways or family endeavors, the nearly 50-acre spread of pleasures present no shortage of options.
Twenty-five tennis courts, 10 shops, Spa La Quinta, hiking trails and the cigar/barber haven at the Havana Club are all on-site, felicitous flavors to pair with 14 different choices of resort and suite accommodations.
Whether staying at the property or, really, anywhere within 50 miles: No desert travel is tasted in full without a meal at Morgan's in the desert. One of seven dining options across the dual properties, the relaxed, hacienda-style housing and farm-to-table philosophy at Morgan's will prove the most enjoyable dining experience in the entire valley.
Three-time James Beard award-winning Executive Chef Jimmy Schmidt is at the forefront of the nation's sustainability movement, and his local sourcing of the region's ample agricultural bounty is evident on the menu. For starters: The Crispy Baby Artichokes prove popular, while both the Grilled Achiote Glazed Baja Shrimp and Pacific Oysters are equally exceptional.
A segue to the Large Plates menu reads equally tempting. The Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb and Porcini Crusted All Natural Fillet (with a side of sweet corn) are both can't-miss entree selections, and the Seared Maine Diver Sea Scallops prove equally generous and superb.