Irrepressible Hope tops best of Palm Springs, Palm Desert

By Shane Sharp, Contributor

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Driving down Bob Hope Drive thinking about how great an impact a celebrity can have on a community when he puts his heart and mind to it.

Hope's recent death (coming just two months after he turned 100) had special significance to golf fans and residents of the Coachella Valley. America's quintessential entertainer has meant more to golf in this area than can ever be summed up in a brief article.

His association with America's Desert Playground began in earnest in 1965 when Milt Hicks and Enrie Dunlevie - board members of the then Palm Springs Golf Classic - convinced Hope to host the tournament (a la Bing Crosby at Pebble Beach).

The impact was immediate. The purse swelled from $30,000 in 1964 to $80,000 in 1965, and the tournament competed in popularity with the likes of the Los Angeles Open. Hope tapped into his wealth of contacts in the "biz" and politics to make the (now) Bob Hope Chrysler Classic a star-studded event.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Jackie Gleason were regulars, as were former Vice President Spiro Agnew, former President Gerald Ford and former Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill. In 1995, Hope even convinced then President Bill Clinton and former President George Bush to play with him and Scott Hoch.

"It all begins and ends with Bob Hope," 1990 Classic winner Peter Jacobsen recently told the Desert Sun. "Believe me, this guy has done more for Americana and he's done a lot for the PGA Tour and golf in general."

Oh by the way, the Classic - year after year - donates as much as $1 to the Eisenhower Medical Center.

For these reasons and more, Hope is the best thing to happen to golf in America's "Golf Capital."

Best for a sizzling summer getaway: Marriott Desert Springs Resort: Okay, so it's 112. But it's a dry heat, right? The Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert has a golf special that could have you eschewing the heat in favor of the value. For $119 a night, the resort offers a double occupancy room and up to two rounds of golf on its Palm and Valley courses. Staying cool on the course is a matter of staying in the cart - Marriott lets golfers drive all over the course (par 3s excepted.). Off the course, ice down in one of the Valley's largest pool, replete with poolside frozen drink service.

Best new course you can play: The Trilogy at La Quinta: This Gary Panks-designed course in La Quinta opened in February and has already been tapped to host the Skins Game in 2003 and 2004. Alas, Tiger Woods and friends will only play 18 holes here the entire year, so Panks went ahead and designed the layout for the rest of us. Bunkers are kept to a minimum (like, none on the first hole), water is rarely in play, and the par 3s are range from memorable to exceptional. What's more, $50 will get you a round of golf with a cart in the summer months. Twilight rates are also available.

Best post-round Mexican grub: Las Casuelas Terrazza Three generations have passed through the ranks at this storied Mexican eatery, not to mention evening entertainment and beyond attentive service. Las Casuelas has bagged eight straight titles for the Valley's Best "Mexican Food," "Margarita," and "Patio" by the Desert Post Weekly. 222 S. Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.

Best nightlife: the Yard House The largest selection of beers (200 on tap) in the world (they claim, and who is going to argue?). Throw in some excellent chow ranging from pizza to Asian specialties, classic and modern rock blaring over the surround sound system, and the hottest singles scene this side of Palm Canyon Drive, and you have yourself a winner. Located in "The River" off Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage. Log on to to peruse the menu.

Shane SharpShane Sharp, Contributor

Shane Sharp is vice president of Buffalo Communications, a golf and lifestyle media agency. He was a writer, senior writer and managing editor of from 1997 to 2003.

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