The North Course at Indio's Landmark Golf Club

By Mike Augsdorfer, Contributor

The North Course at Landmark Golf Club is one of those rare courses that offers a solid challenge for better players from the back tees while not punishing the high handicappers who play from the regular and forward tees. At 7,125 yards from the tips, this course will be tough on even the best players. The other three tees play 6,510 yards, 5,856 yards and 5,015 yards respectively.

The North Course opened at the end of October, just a few weeks before the South Course. The front nine at the North Course is unusual in several respects. Most noticeable is the fact that you won't see a water hazard until you reach the ninth green, and then it's just the canal that runs through the complex lurking far to the right of the green. The front side also features another golf rarity: back-to-back par fives at the fifth and sixth holes.

The North Course opens with a relatively short (379 yards) par four that, on the surface, seems benign. However, as with many of the greens on this golf course, judging the slope and elevation of the green from the fairway can be difficult. On the front nine especially, the greens are often elevated dramatically, and you will have to compensate for the elevation factor in your club selection.

The second hole follows a similar pattern: it looks simple, but it's really quite a challenge. If you drive it a little too far to the right, you bring the rocks into play; a little too far left brings the bunkers into play. This hole has all sorts of nooks and crannies for the ball to fall into trouble. The hole stretches to 423 yards from the back tees, although it plays considerably shorter from the other tee boxes, but you don't realize just how difficult this hole is until after you putt out and mark your score.

Anyone who pars this hole should breathe a sigh of relief; anyone who survives with a bogey should be grateful to get away so easy!

The elevated tee box on the third hole offers a panoramic view of the entire Coachella Valley, one of several such views players can enjoy through the round. The hole is a dogleg left that plays downhill to a deceptive-looking fairway, and it actually has six tee box locations.

Though it seems fairly wide open, trouble lurks on both sides of the fairway: rocks and desert to the right, and a huge bunker covers the entire left side of the fairway. Even if you put your tee shot in the middle of the fairway, you'll have to be accurate with your approach shot to have a chance at birdie on the multi-tiered green which is only 28 yards deep, the smallest green on the course.

The 4-5-6 stretch at the North Course can be backbreaking. The fourth hole, a long par-three dubbed "Intimidation," requires a shot that can carry the yawning bunker that fronts the green. The fifth, appropriately named "Eternity" (576 yards from the back tee), calls for a huge drive to carry the bunker on the left and a well-placed layup to the left to leave the best angle to the green.

The sixth is another 576-yard par five that offers a very narrow landing area for tee shots. The two bunkers in front of the green will gobble up anything short, so most players will lay up to leave a full wedge into the shallow (26 yards) green.

The seventh hole, called "Peek-a-boo," is an entertaining par three with a curious twist: from the back tee box, you cannot see most of the green. It's only 156 yards from the back, but few players are comfortable trying to hit a target they can't see.

The par-four eighth offers more outstanding views from the tee box as well as a solid challenge for the better player. Long hitters may try to rip a drive over the bunkers on the left, leaving just a wedge to the green.

Those who play the ball from left to right have an advantage on the approach shot because the fairway wraps around the left side of the green. The ninth hole offers the first glimpse of water on this course, even though the canal is well off to the right side.

As with most of the holes on the front side, this hole also favors a right-to-left tee shot, but short hitters will be forced to play this 490-yard par four much like a par five.

The back nine brings water into play a bit more and favors the left-to-right shot pattern a bit more. The tenth hole offers long hitters a chance to reach the green in two shots, but it's a VERY long second shot.

If you lay up, be sure to lay up short of the bunker that sits in the middle of the fairway about 75 yards short of the green. Although it is considered the easiest hole on the golf course, this one can cause trouble if you are not careful with your shots.

The finishing hole is a dynamic par 5 that doglegs to the right and then back to the left at the finish.

The 11th hole offers a nice, wide fairway to aim at. The approach shot, however, requires a deft touch. Players who fire at the flag may be sorry if the hole is cut close to the bunker on the left. The best strategy is to play for the middle of the green regardless of pin placement and just hope your shot rolls to a potential birdie position.

The 12th is called "Options" because players have a number of choices to make at the tee box. A "perfect" drive may land in the bunker in the middle of the fairway. (Remember David Duval's "perfect" drive in the match against Tiger at Sherwood Country Club that ran into the hazard in the middle of the fairway? Same concept here!)

If you choose to play the driver, keep it to the left to avoid the sand and set up the easiest angle to the green. However, in most cases, a well-placed fairway wood or long iron is a better choice and will still leave a fairly simple shot to the green.

Players won't find much room to bail out on the difficult par-three 13th hole. If you miss this green - and chances are pretty good that you will - you'll need a top-notch short game to escape with a par.

You can probably leave the driver in the bag at the short (334 yards from the back tee) 14th hole, a dogleg-right par-four. Your approach shot must be accurate to avoid the bunkers on the left and right of the green as well as the water behind it.

The 15th is probably the most picturesque hole on the course, a 183-yard par-three with an island green. The green is almost 50 yards deep, so pin placement (and wind conditions) may dictate your club selection here.

The 16th is dubbed "Sand Box" because a massive serpentine sand bunker winds along the right-hand side of the hole from the tee to the green. The green is guarded by a small trap on the right, but the grass bunkers on the left are no picnic either.

Like the ninth hole, 17 is a long par four. It offers a wide fairway with no bunkers or water hazards, yet many tee shots will find the barren desert to the left or the rough. Beware of any pin placed close to the bunker on the left because even a good approach shot can easily fall off the edge.

The finishing hole is a dynamic par five that doglegs to the right and then back to the left at the finish. The first challenge is to avoid the fairway bunkers along the right side that will capture errant tee shots. The second challenge is to place a lay-up shot between the water on the left and the fairway bunker about 100 yards from the green on the right.

Finally, you must carve a good shot to a deep green that is practically surrounded by water and sand. Despite the hazards, this hole presents an excellent birdie opportunity for better players.

Few players will be disappointed by the North Course at Landmark. Even though the course is long, shotmaking is more important that brute strength. Landmark has also done an excellent job with the facilities.

The clubhouse is reminiscent of the PGA West Resort Clubhouse with a bar and a large dining area on one side and the well-stocked golf shop on the other side. Players will also enjoy an excellent practice facility along with the large putting green located right alongside the first tee.

Players at every level can have fun on this course if they play from the proper tees.

Landmark Golf Club is located just off Golf Center Parkway in Indio, north of the I-10 freeway and about 25 miles east of Palm Springs.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This course is now known as the Golf Club at Terra Lago - North Course and South Course.

Mike Augsdorfer, Contributor

Mike Augsdorfer has covered golf in the Palm Springs area since 1993. He has edited the DESERT GOLF GUIDE for the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Skins Game Program, the Diners Club Matches Program and CALIFORNIA FAIRWAYS (the official publication of the California Golf Course Superintendents Association).

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