Palm Royale Country Club in La Quinta: Par-3 nobility in the southern California desert
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Was the original intentions at Palm Royale Country Club to address two pertinent issues facing modern-day golf? Who knows?
Yet the quaint, inviting grounds of this residentially lined, 18-hole par 3 do in fact reflect a pair of contemporary interests facing the game: For a quick play and some sound exercise (it's walking only), put a crown on this round.
"It's a fun, low-key little course," said Sue Ellen McMaster, a local resident and return player. "It's a lighter feel than some of the big courses in the desert. There's no anxiety out here. It's great to walk and get some exercise and take everything in, instead of always whisking around in a cart. And I think it can be good for all kinds of players; low handicappers can really refine their short games. And the water isn't just for scenery -- it can be pretty challenging sometimes."
Palm Royale C.C.: Not your average par-3 course
Opened in 1986 and designed by the prolific Ted Robinson, the golf course amply evidences its late architect's "King of Waterscapes" status. Popular for seniors, the grounds will also prove an excellent introduction to the game for beginners and kids.
"If it takes close to three hours out here, then you're probably not having a really good day," said Dennis Worthington, vice president of Palm Royale C.C. Home Owners' Association. "It's walking, so you get exercise, and it shouldn't take all that long to play. This is probably one of the best-kept secrets in the desert."
More overt at Palm Royale are blanketed challenges throughout. Robinson's water features come into play on half the scorecard, and every hole is bunkered. In addition, players are kept honest with continually testy putting surfaces.
"The greens are very undulating and can be really tricky," Worthington said. "It's a short course, but the greens make it tougher and fun to play. Sometimes, our grounds people get really creative with pin placements, so it makes it extra fun to play. It takes more than one time to play here to truly get a feel for what the greens are doing."
For what the routing is doing: Don't over-complicate your day. The two-teed course plays at 1,992 yards from the back and 1,689 from the forward box; the two longest holes play at 150 yards, and 10 holes are carded at 107 yards or less. Though the nascent will indeed find challenge in several of the water holes, single-digit players will carry or pull cart around five clubs.
Fun hazard runs define both sides
"No. 3 is a short hole, but it's a two-tiered green and a lot of times the flag is right on the tier," Worthington said. "So, if you're long, you're over and the ball will run off."
Holes 5-7 all have water features, with the 120-yard fifth showing a waterfall, along with more drink hidden behind the green.
"And no. 7 is a little longer and all water carry," said Worthington of the 150-yarder, which also presents bunkering to the right of the green and testy mounding to the left.
On the diminutive, 81-yard ninth, the tee features a pond-guarded green with a lone palm in the player's line along with O.B. just beyond the putting surface.
"No. 16 has a huge bunker that looks like a butterfly, with a nice bunker on the back as well. And that green is very undulating," said Worthington. "And the 18th is a water hole and can be tough, and a pin up front makes it more challenging; depending on pin placement, you could be in the water."
Palm Royale C.C.: The verdict
Ideal for children and older players, Palm Royale Country Club nonetheless will prove a fine time for the refined golfer who is seeking to dial-in wedges and low irons.