The South Course at Landmark Golf Club

By Mike Augsdorfer, Contributor

The South Course at Landmark Golf Club is the second of two outstanding layouts designed by Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley in Indio, California, just north of Interstate 10. Like the North Course, the South offers some spectacular views of the surrounding area from elevated tee boxes.

The South plays just a bit longer than the North from the tips at 7,229 yards. Neither course has been rated yet, but most players feel that the North Course is slightly more scenic while the South Course is slightly more challenging.

Like the North Course, the South opens with a par four that seems relatively simple but is actually deceptively hard. This 382-yard hole requires an accurate drive, preferably to the right-center of a fairway that slopes gently uphill.

If you make a mistake, you are better off hooking the drive to the left where the design offers more fairway; however, from the left side you will have to carry a large greenside bunker on your approach shot. A pushed drive, on the other hand, can easily wind up behind a rock outcropping that will leave you no shot at the green.

The entrance to the second hole is marked by one of the unique features of the South Course: a railroad box car bridge across the canal that bisects the second hole. From the tee box, you aim at another box car bridge about 400 yards away near the green. The canal runs along the right side of the hole, then doglegs and crosses between the fairway and the green about 250 yards from the tee.

The challenge is to place your drive as close to the canal as you dare, leaving a wedge or short iron into the green. (You will use the second box car bridge to cross over the canal to get to the green.) If you miss the green to the right, as many players will, the ball will roll down the hill into a collection area where you will face a tough pitch or chip.

"Mountain Pass," the 540-yard third hole, is an exciting par five that tests the golfer on every shot. From the back tee box it's 231 yards to carry the first bunker on the left and 279 to reach the far bunker on the right. The green is nearly impossible to reach in two shots.

The key on the second shot is to lay up either left or right of the huge bunker that sits in the middle of the fairway. The decision is simple: go left of the bunker if you want the shortest distance to the green (with a tough carry over greenside bunkers) or go right of the bunker if you prefer a longer shot with a better angle to the green.

The par-three fourth hole, called "Cliffhanger," plays very long (201 yards) from the back tees, but the red and white tees are only 94 and 123 yards respectively. Any pin placement on the front of the green will be difficult to hit from the back tees.

It's easy to favor the left side of this hole since the design slopes from left to right, and the rough drops off sharply to the right of the green. A gentle fade is probably the best shot at this tough hole.

The tee box at the par-four fifth hole offers a lovely view of the golf course and the surrounding area. Most players will aim for the railroad car bridge near the green and hope to land their drive just to the right of the huge bunker that dominates the left side of the hole.

Big hitters may try to go directly over the bunker and catch the narrow strip of fairway to the left that offers a better angle to the green; however, the drive must carry at least 265 yards to clear the sand. From the left-side approach, the green presents no obstacles, but two huge traps lurk on the right side and must be carried if you approach the green from the right side of the fairway.

Like the North Course, the South offers some spectacular views of the surrounding area from elevated tee boxes

The back tees on the par-three sixth hole are actually just behind the fifth green before you cross over the railroad car bridge. At 231 yards from the tips, this hole is a monster. Most players will be content to land in the bail-out area to the right of the green, as long as they avoid the canal and the huge bunker on the left.

The seventh hole is a par four that stretches to 459 yards from the back tees but plays much shorter from the white tees. The fairway bunker is 295 yards from the back tees, but long hitters can reach it with a tail wind.

The best angle to the green is on a direct line with the fairway bunker, but most players will steer the drive left to avoid the sand, leaving a mid-to-long iron shot to a well-protected green. The green is the deepest on the South Course at 46 yards from front to back, but it is also very narrow, and it is surrounded by sand.

The eighth is a long, straightaway par five. At 570 yards from the back tees, it's a true three-shotter. You can favor the right side off the tee since it is fairly easy to carry the two bunkers on the right.

Be very careful placing your second shot, though. You're better off taking a full wedge into this green than trying to finesse a shorter shot. Unfortunately, about 100 yards from the green, the fairway narrows considerably to a small landing area between two bunkers, so your second shot must be accurate.

Stronger players may even be wise to lay up farther back, short of the right-hand bunker, between 140 and 150 yards from the green. Then you can attack the green with a full 9- or 8-iron. You don't want to be long with your approach shot because you'll face a near-certain double bogey from the sand or — worse yet — the water.

The par-four ninth measures 453 from the tips, but it doesn't play quite that long due to a strong dogleg around the canal. Trouble lurks on both sides off the tee; a hook leaves you in the canal, and a slice will probably find the large fairway bunker on the right (or worse). Aim at the second bunker, and you should land in the fairway.

The green is difficult to approach because the only open area is on the left, dangerously close to the canal. A fortress of bunkers guards the center and right-side approach routes, and another bunker in the back will catch any shots that run long. Don't worry about the pin placement; just aim for the center of the green and hope the ball rolls the right way!

The back nine on the South Course features three par fives and three par threes. Holes 10-12 form a loop around Landmark's two-sided practice range. The tenth is shaped like a huge question mark wrapped around the lake that dominates the left side. Hit your tee ball as far to the right as you can to give yourself the best angle to this green.

If you drive the ball far enough, you won't have to carry the lake with your approach shot. Most players, however, will cut off the lake a bit and bail out to the right of the green, where getting up and down is no easy task but beats getting wet.

The 11th is called "Brutal" for a reason -- actually, 483 of them from the back tees. This is the longest par four on the course. Short hitters will be better off playing this monster like a three-shot par five.

Even long hitters will have trouble carrying the fairway bunker from the tee. Fortunately, the green is open in the front, allowing you to bump-and-run a long iron to the green.

The 12th is a classic, straightaway par three with dangerous bunkers in both the front and back of the green as well as nasty rough to the left and right. The hole runs 192 yards from the back tees, and most players will use a mid-to-long iron, but only a high, soft shot will hold the green.

One option is to make use of the small opening in the left-front of the green to run a shot up if the pin is in a favorable position. Don't even think about firing at a back pin placement!

The par-five 13th is full of risk-reward elements. The safe play on this 568-yard hole is to aim at the second bunker on the right and place your drive on the right side of the fairway, leaving 280 or so to the green. Risk takers can try to bomb a drive over the first bunker on the left to try to get close enough to reach the green in two shots, but any mistake could land your ball in one of the fairway bunkers.

On the second shot, golfers are again faced with a choice: do you take the easy layup to the widest part of the fairway or do you go for the green in two and risk falling into the huge bunker to the right of the green? The green is fairly deep (36 yards), and a bailout area on the left side of the green provides some relief if you go for it and miss.

Holes 14 and 15 continue the alternating par three-par five pattern. The 14th stretches to 249 yards from the back tee box, a very long par three with a deep green. All but the longest hitters will play this hole with a fairway wood from the tee. The only major trouble is the bunker to the right of the green. Aim for the front of the green and let the shot roll up.

The 569-yard 15th hole is dubbed "Temptation." The tee shot on this par five is fairly open, and if you hit it far enough, you'll certainly be tempted to try to reach the green in two.

However, the green is not easy to hit with a fairway wood or long iron. If you go for it, you'll need to hit a draw over the first bunker and let the ball run up to the green. The bunker in the middle of the fairway makes a layup difficult as well. If you lay up to the right of the bunker, you'll have a better angle to the green; the layup is easier to the left, but you'll have to carry the bunker to the left of the green on your third shot.

The "average" player finally gets a shot at the 16th, a short par four that favors good shotmaking over brute strength. This hole challenges players to hit the tee shot as far left as possible, then work the approach over an enormous bunker to a small green.

Of course, brute strength works, too, if you can power a drive over the fairway bunker (253 yards to carry), giving yourself a clear shot at the green and taking the greenside bunker out of play.

The 17th is a beautifully deceptive par three. It's only 148 yards from the back tee box to a wide but shallow green. Any flag set to the right side or in the back of the green brings the bunkers into play.

Check the wind strength and direction before you make your club selection here. As with all the par threes on this course, the best bet is to play safely for the center of the green, take your two-putt par and be happy. Bogies are far more likely than birdies on this hole.

The 12th is a classic, straightaway par three with dangerous bunkers in both the front and back of the green.

The finishing hole on the South Course is a fun par five. At only 507 yards from the back tee box, this hole can be reached in two if you avoid the fairway bunker on the right and the 200 yards of sand on the left. Be sure to take enough club to get up to the green because anything short will wind up in the greenside bunker.

Landmark Golf Club provides plenty of "creature comforts" to keep golfers happy before, during and after a round of golf. The club offers an excellent practice facility with a dual-ended driving range for pre-game warmups and a huge, comfortable clubhouse for post-round drinks and chat.

During the round you'll enjoy the convenience of the GPS tracking system on all golf carts that provides accurate yardages to the green from all points on each hole. The pro shop is well stocked with a wide variety of logoed apparel and other merchandise as well.

If you're still in the mood for more golf after 18 at Landmark or if you feel the need to work on your short game, the Indio Municipal Golf Course is just a few exits west on the freeway. It's a fun short course that is lighted for night play (which comes in handy during the hot summer months). It's a great spot for families with kids who can't play a championship course yet.

On the other hand, if a good round has left you feeling lucky, stop by Fantasy Springs Casino for a few hands of poker or blackjack or to try your luck at one of the "slot" machines. (Don't call them "slots," though. In Indian casinos, they are known as VLTs or Video Lottery Terminals. The key difference is that they do not dispense coins; instead, they spit out tickets that you take to the cashier.)

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.

Landmark Golf Club
84-000 Landmark Parkway
Indio, CA 92203
(760) 775-2000

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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