Palm Springs trying to shake summer stigma

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- A sampling of adjectives used to describe Palm Springs in the summer by weathercasters in not-so-far away places like Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco: sizzling, hideous, dashboard-melting, and hellish.

Hide-the-dog the heat, they call it here, and they aren't kidding.

What, these fine weatherfolk never played golf in a soothing 110?

Well, they will soon.

The Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Authority is fed up with spry meteorologists in the Golden State's cooler climes who seem to take delight in pointing out the big yellow sun omnipresently hanging above the Coachella Valley on the weather map.

So here's the PSDRCVA's plan - pluck these weathercasters from the aforementioned cities, deposit them at the La Quinta Resort and Spa, slather them with food and drink, and then send them on their merry way to preach about the benefits of dry heat (see straight hair, cracked lips, leather neck).

The question is, does the CVA dare place these weather wielders on one of the Valley's fairways? Would a romp around the links in the blistering heat help or hinder its cause?

"Oh yes," says Mark Graves, a CVA spokesman. "We have about 20 that plan to attend and most of them plan on playing. If you are finished by noon or 1 o'clock, you are good."

Such is the M.O. of golfers here in America's Desert Playground during the summer months. Get out early. Get in quick. Save a little money. The price of greens fees and resort rooms drops dramatically in May and remains meteorologically suppressed through September.

The concept has even caught on overseas, according to Graves.

"We actually get the majority of our visitors from the U.K. and Germany during the summer," he says. "They actually crave the heat, and it is much cheaper for them to fly here then. You could say they are the opposite of snowbirds."

Graves says a good chunk of the European summer visitors tee it up, regardless of the searing (oops) heat. For the most part, though, it is the locals who "take advantage" of summer golf in the Valley. Mega expensive resorts like PGA West and La Quinta come so far off their season prices, even the most frugal of golfers get in on the action.

"It is 106 today and we've already done 70 rounds," says Brandon O'Neil, an assistant golf professional at the Trilogy Golf Club at La Quinta. "We put six bottles of water in each cart and we are not cart path only. The time you spend in the sun is minimized."

The recently opened Trilogy, the new home of the Skins Game, is a $125 course in the winter. In the summer the rate drops to $50 in the morning and a paltry $30 in the afternoon.

At the Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, $119 nets a posh room, a round of golf at resort's Valley or Palm course, and a free replay, based on availability. For locals, either Ted Robinson designed circuit can be had for $65 on the weekends, $60 on weekdays and $49 and $39 on weekend and weekday afternoons, respectively. There's even a twilight rate of $42 and $34 after 4 p.m.

"The summer is the time to build a loyalty following at many of these courses," says Graves.

So, let the loyalty building begin June 6, when the weathercasters hit town. Vegas, which is not too far from here, has pretty good odds on the junket working in the Valley's favor.

"Does it work? Well, it is better than doing nothing," says Graves. "One of the L.A. weathercasters got back and went on air and talked about how great Palm Springs can be in the summer. This little bit of air time helps us tremendously. That is exactly what we hope for."

Palm Springs is great in the summer. No argument here (slathering on sunscreen). Summer golf in the desert can be a pleasant experience (downing strange colored fluid replacement liquid). Now, off to the links (money left over for 19th hole -- priceless.)

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