The Golf Resort at Indian Wells: A Look at the Dynamic East Course

By Mike Augsdorfer, Contributor

The Golf Resort at Indian Wells has long enjoyed an elevated status as one of the most popular golf facilities in the Palm Springs area. The two courses at the Golf Resort draw much of their business from the two adjacent luxury hotels, the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort, as well as the nearby Miramonte Resort and the Indian Wells Resort Hotel, just across the street. The Golf Resort also enjoys a solid reputation among local players and even offers a substantial discount to Indian Wells residents.

The East Course is one of Ted Robinson's better designs in the desert. While critics deride some Robinson designs for having a heavy reliance on lookalike par fours, he tends to design his golf holes with the average resort player in mind, more so than the single-digit handicapper. Most of the par fours on the East Course are less than 400 yards long, and most of his par fives are less than 500 yards long.

The opening hole, for example, is a simple, straightaway, 375-yard par four that should not be a problem for most players. However, players must be careful to avoid slicing a drive into the wash to the right -- it can easily end up lost among the balls on the driving range.

Almost all of the par fours demand accurate driving, especially the tenth, which is bordered by the wash and driving range on the left and the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort on the right. A wayward drive can leave you in a poor position. The 13th is another challenging par four that demands an accurate drive because the fairway is literally an island in the middle of a huge lake.

If you miss the fairway to the left, right, short or long, you're looking at a penalty stroke and an easy double bogey. Your best bet is to take a fairway wood or even an iron off the tee on these holes where distance is not as crucial as accuracy is.

The par fives on the East Course are all teasers. At 496, 536, 511 and 485 yards respectively, they are all short enough that long hitters can reach them in two shots -- but they're not that simple. The 496-yard sixth hole, for example, doglegs around two large Indian burial grounds.

Overall, the East Course garners high marks for playability across the board.

In most cases, if pull your drive into the burial grounds, you will lose your ball and be forced to take a penalty stroke. The right side isn't much of an option either. If the rough doesn't give you an impossible lie, the trees will likely block your second shot. However, if you can clear the edge of the first burial ground on the left (about 265 yards or so) and get a good kick down the hill, you could be left with a relatively easy shot to the green. Otherwise, it's probably a three-shot hole.

Robinson challenges players with his par three designs on the East Course. Oddly enough, water, which is a Robinson trademark, comes into play on only one the par threes on the East Course, but the small greens force players to be accurate with their shots.

The 17th hole, which is the shortest of the par threes at only 149 yards, is probably the most challenging for most players because the tee shot must carry the lake and land softly on the small green. Any shot that lands off the green presents a difficult up-and-down situation.

Hazards come in many forms at the Golf Resort. Water is the most obvious hazard, and there's plenty of it, but most of it is not in play. Sand traps are strategically located but generally are not too difficult to play from because the sand texture is good (you rarely get a buried or plugged lie) and the bunkers don't usually have high lips to carry. Some holes are bordered by trees, so a poor drive may force you to pitch out sideways, but a more potent problem is dealing with the rough.

While the rough at the Golf Resort is kept relatively short to keep players from losing golf balls, the grass itself presents some challenge to the golfer. In the summer, the bermuda grass tends to grab the club head, reducing speed at impact. In the winter, the overseeded ryegrass is usually cut a bit higher, and grass gets between the club face and the ball. The greens are relatively small, so any error on an approach shot usually leaves a tough up-and-down situation.

Speed of the greens varies depending on the season and the weather conditions. In the fall, the freshly overseeded greens may run a bit slow because they are not cut as short; however, in the winter season, the greens tend to be quick and true. Summer can go either way, but this year the greens seem to be extremely fast -- a pleasant surprise considering some of the difficulties local courses have had in maintaining greens this summer.

Overall, the East Course garners high marks for playability across the board, although low handicappers may be turned off by the relatively short length of the course (6,631 yards from the back tees). The course rating (71.7) and slope (122) are deceptive because many of the holes dogleg slightly one way or another, and many shots will require the player to work the ball left or right for the best results.

Mid-handicappers will have the most fun here, particularly from the gold or white tees. If you can control the ball off the tee, you can score well on this course. High handicappers, however, may struggle with the layout of some holes.

For those who want to double their challenge, play the adjacent West Course for a full 36-hole day. The Golf Resort offers a comfortable bar and lounge area for a post-round drink as well. Nearby highlights include the new Indian Wells Tennis Center, which hosts a major tennis tournament every year in March, and the El Paseo shopping district in Palm Desert.

The Golf Resort at Indian Wells is located just off Highway 111, within an easy drive of excellent dining, shopping and other attractions. Stay-and-play packages are available through the two on-resort properties, the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort, and two other luxury hotels, the Miramonte Resort and the Indian Wells Resort Hotel, are right across the street.

The Golf Resort at Indian Wells (East Course)
44-500 Indian Wells Lane
Indian Wells, CA 92210
(760) 346-4653
Fax: (760) 773-9032

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).

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment