Best public golf courses in Palm Springs

Picture yourself in a golfer’s paradise, surrounded by towering palm trees, breathtaking mountain ranges, and perfectly manicured fairways. Welcome to Palm Springs, where the sun shines bright, and the golf game is even brighter.

image of best public golf courses in palm springs - AEC Info

This desert oasis is home to some of the best public golf courses in the world, attracting golf enthusiasts from around the globe. From challenging championship courses to relaxing resort-style greens, there’s something for everyone in Palm Springs. Join us as we explore the top-rated public golf courses in this golfer’s haven.

Top 10 public golf courses in Palm Springs

Escena Golf Club

image of escena golf club - AEC Info

Escena Golf Club, located in Palm Springs, California, is a breathtaking course that will leave a lasting impression. This magnificent course was built in 2005 and has since garnered a reputation for being one of the top public courses in California. Its stunning desert landscapes and mountain views are just some of the reasons why golf enthusiasts flock to Escena Golf Club.

The course’s design is a masterpiece by Nicklaus Design Group, which incorporated natural surroundings to provide golfers with a challenging yet enjoyable experience. It has also won several accolades, including the Golf Advisor: Top Courses in California, where it ranked #19 in 2021, #20 in 2020, and #24 in 2016.

Playing at Escena Golf Club is a unique experience, with a course that stretches over 7,000 yards and is dotted with bunkers, water features, and undulating greens. The front nine is relatively straightforward, with wide fairways, while the back nine is more challenging, with water hazards and narrower fairways.

One of the most memorable holes at Escena Golf Club is the par-3 17th hole, which requires golfers to hit over water to reach the green. The stunning mountain backdrop adds to the beauty of this hole, making it a fan favorite.

Desert Willow Golf Resort

image of desert willow golf resort - AEC Info

Desert Willow Golf Resort is one of the premier public golf courses in Palm Desert, California. The resort features two 18-hole championship courses, the Firecliff Course and the Mountain View Course, designed by renowned golf course architect Michael Hurdzan and his partner, Dana Fry. Both courses have been recognized as among the top 50 public golf courses in the country by Golf Digest and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and desert landscape.

The Firecliff Course (built in 1997) is popular for its dramatic layout, with challenging tee shots and tricky greens. The course features 7,056 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. It has a rating of 74.1 and a slope rating of 141, making it one of the more difficult courses in the area. Golfers will need to bring their A-game to tackle this challenging course.

The Mountain View Course, on the other hand, is popular for its more forgiving layout and wide fairways. The course measures 6,913 yards from the longest tees for a par of 72. It has a rating of 73 and a slope rating of 132, making it slightly less challenging than the Firecliff Course. However, it still presents plenty of obstacles and rewards strategic play.

Both courses feature a range of amenities, including practice facilities, a clubhouse, a pro shop, and on-course food and beverage service. The resort also offers a variety of golf packages and lessons for players of all skill levels.

SilverRock Resort

image of silverrock resort - AEC Info

SilverRock Resort is a stunning golf course in La Quinta, California, just a short drive from Palm Springs. It was designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer in collaboration with his design team and opened for play in 2005. The course offers stunning views of the Santa Rosa Mountains and is famous for its challenging play, with strategically placed bunkers, water hazards, and undulating greens.

SilverRock Resort has earned many accolades over the years, including being named one of Golfweek’s “Best Municipal Courses” in 2021 and earning a spot on Golf Advisor’s “Top 50 Courses in the United States” in 2018. The resort offers two distinct courses, the Arnold Palmer Classic Course and the Greg Norman Course.

The Arnold Palmer Classic Course is a par-72 layout that stretches over 7,578 yards from the back tees. On the front nine, the string of holes from 3-8 stood out as the most memorable. Each hole presented its own unique challenge that required a distinct strategy to master.

For instance, the 3rd hole, a superb par 3, posed the greatest obstacle in the form of an intimidating bunker that one must skillfully avoid reaching the green. On the other hand, the 8th hole is a breathtaking short par 3 that features a stunning rock outcropping as the backdrop of the green. It’s hard not to be mesmerized by the sheer beauty of this hole, but players must stay focused to avoid hitting the rocks and potentially bouncing back onto the green.

Classic Club

image of classic club - AEC Info

The Classic Club in Palm Desert, California, is a must-play for golf enthusiasts visiting the area. The course was designed by Arnold Palmer and boasts 18 holes of pure enjoyment. The course perfectly blends traditional and modern elements with strategically placed bunkers, challenging water features, and long fairways requiring accurate tee shots.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Classic Club is its conditioning. The greens are always in pristine condition, and the fairways are well-manicured. You’ll feel like you’re playing at a PGA Tour venue.

The front nine at the Classic Club is a great warm-up for what’s to come on the back nine. Holes 3-8 are the standout holes on the front side, each with its unique challenge. The 3rd hole, in particular, is a great par 3 that requires avoiding a daunting bunker. The 5th hole is up against the mountains, providing a breathtaking backdrop for your game. And the 8th hole is a stunning short par 3 with a massive rock outcropping as the backdrop to the green.

Fun fact: It was originally built as a host course for the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic and was used for the tournament from 2006 to 2008.

PGA WEST Pete Dye Mountain Course

image of PGA WEST pete dye mountain course - AEC Info

Located in La Quinta, California, the PGA WEST Pete Dye Mountain Course is a stunning golf course designed by the legendary golf course architect Pete Dye. The course is known for its dramatic mountain views, elevation changes, and challenging greens.

One unique feature of the course is the popular 16th hole, which requires golfers to hit their shot over a deep ravine to a green nestled in the side of the mountain. While it’s not a long hole, you’ll end up in the desert if you miss the green.

Golfers will be challenged by the course’s undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and fast greens. However, the course’s stunning views and beautiful scenery more than make up for the challenge. The course is a must-play for any serious golfer visiting the Palm Springs area.

Good to know: The course was the site for Skins Game from 1986 to 1991 and was used for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic from 1987 to 1990.

Indian Wells Golf Resort

image of indian wells golf resort - AEC Info

This golfer’s paradise has stunning views of the mountains, lush greenery, and pristine lakes. The facility features two 18-hole championship courses: the Celebrity Course and the Players Course, designed by Clive Clark and John Fought.

The Celebrity Course is aptly named, as many celebrities and professional golfers have played it. It is a challenging par-72 course with undulating fairways, water features, and scenic landscaping. The course requires golfers to use their creativity and strategic thinking to navigate the challenging layout.

On the other hand, the Players Course is a traditional, Scottish-style course with more open fairways and less water, but it still has plenty of bunkers to avoid. It is a par-72 course with multiple tee boxes, making it suitable for golfers of all skill levels. The course is known for its smooth and fast greens that will test even the most seasoned golfers.

In addition to the two championship courses, Indian Wells Golf Resort has an extensive practice facility, including a double-ended driving range, chipping greens, and bunkers. The club also has a top-rated restaurant, the Vue Grille & Bar, which serves delicious food and offers spectacular views of the golf course and surrounding mountains.

The resort has hosted several prestigious golf events, including the Golf Channel’s Big Break and the ANA Inspiration (formerly known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship), one of the LPGA Tour’s major championships.

Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

image of tahquitz creek golf resort - AEC Info

Located in the heart of Palm Springs, Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort is a popular destination for golfers of all skill levels. The resort features two courses, the Legend Course and the Resort Course, which offer stunning views of the San Jacinto Mountains.

The Legend Course, designed by William F. Bell and built in 1959, has a traditional layout known for its wide fairways and large greens. The course has hosted several prestigious tournaments, including the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic. On the other hand, the Resort Course, designed by Ted Robinson and opened in 1995, is a links-style course that features water hazards on nearly every hole.

In addition to its two courses, Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort also features a full-service clubhouse, practice facility, and pro shop. The resort is open year-round and offers a variety of packages and specials for visitors.

Desert Princess Country Club

image of desert princess country club - AEC Info

Nestled in the Coachella Valley, Desert Princess Country Club offers stunning views of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains. Built in the late 80s, this club has a 27-hole course designed and built by David Rainville and his partner Billy Casper.

The 6,781-yard, par-72 Cielo nine features gently rolling fairways and generous greens. The Vista nine, at 3,527 yards, is a par-36 course with three par-3s, three par-4s, and three par-5s. Finally, the Lagos nine, a 3,715-yard, par-36 course, presents challenging water hazards and a variety of bunkers, requiring precision and accuracy in every shot.

Desert Princess Country Club also boasts a state-of-the-art practice facility, including a driving range, chipping and putting greens, and a private practice area for lessons with the club’s professional staff. For those looking for some leisurely activities, the club offers tennis courts, a full-service spa, and fitness center.

Bighorn Golf Club

image of bighorn golf club - AEC Info

Bighorn Golf Club is a spectacular golf course built by renowned architects Tom Fazio, Beau Welling, and Dennis Wise. The course is a masterpiece that winds through the beautiful desert landscape of Palm Desert, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The Canyon Course at Bighorn Golf Club is a stunning desert layout with dramatic elevation changes, deep bunkers, and natural water features. The views are breathtaking, with the Santa Rosa Mountains as a backdrop to the course. The Desert Course at Bighorn Golf Club is a classic desert-style course that is also challenging and beautiful, with undulating fairways and large greens.

Bighorn Golf Club is known for its top-notch amenities, including a beautiful clubhouse, luxurious spa, and excellent dining options. The exceptional service by friendly staff and a welcoming atmosphere make golfers feel at home.

Cimarron Golf Resort

image of cimarron golf resort - AEC Info

As you enter the gates of Cimarron Golf Resort, you’re immediately struck by the beautiful desert landscape surrounding you. But don’t let the stunning scenery distract you from the task at hand – playing some seriously great golf.

This public course offers something for golfers of all skill levels, with its two 18-hole courses, the Boulder and Pebble. The courses are challenging and picturesque, with the Boulder course featuring elevated greens and water hazards and the Pebble course offering wide fairways and strategic bunkers.

But golf isn’t the only draw at Cimarron. The resort also features a lovely clubhouse with a pro shop and restaurant, where you can grab a bite to eat and drink while enjoying the stunning views.

And if you want to improve your game, the resort offers a range of lessons and clinics with experienced golf pros. It’s the perfect place to work on your swing and take your game to the next level.

Bottom line

Palm Springs is a golfer’s paradise, and the area boasts some of the best public golf courses in the country.  (Just like Southern California and Phoenix) Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there is a course for you.

Each course has a unique charm, from stunning mountain views to lush green fairways. So, pack your clubs and head to Palm Springs for a golfing adventure you won’t forget!