Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs

If I had to sum up Palm Springs in three words: I’d say, “swimming pools” & “golf.”  There are few other places with more world-class golf packed into each square mile than the desert.  And if you’re looking at this area as a whole, the truth is ~ some of the Valley’s best courses are actually on the east side: in La Quinta & Indian Wells.  This is where you’ll find all the renowned PGA West courses, as well as super high-end fare like The Quarry (my brother’s favorite) & The Madison Club (Kardashian-land).  But in this article, I want to focus on the best public golf courses in & around Palm Springs, courses that are available to everyone.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World

The Palm Springs area is also known as “Golf Mecca,” with over 100 golf courses, some of which are rated amongst the top in the world. Popular Desert Willow in Palm Desert is pictured here.

Map of Palm Springs Golf Courses

Desert Willow

Indian Wells Golf Resort

Mountain Course, La Quinta Resort

Eagle Falls (at Fantasy Springs Resort)

PGA West Stadium Course

Indian Canyons Golf Resort

Escena Golf Resort

JW Marriott Desert Springs

Westin Mission Hills, Pete Dye Course

Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course

Overview of Palm Springs Golf Courses

Keep in mind: rates listed below indicate pricing during “season,” between October & May, when all prices in the desert are higher.  If you play during summer (early in the morning, that is ~ before temps hit 110!), rates are typically cut in half, if not more.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs & Indian Wells, Girl Who Travels the World

Indian Wells Golf Resort features two gorgeous, 18-hole public courses: the Celebrity Course & the Players Course.

You can book tee times by clicking on the name of the course below ~ I’ve linked directly to their websites.  And finally, I’ve starred next to the courses that I think are most spectacular & worth playing. 

Palm Springs Golf Courses

1. Indian Canyons Golf Resort = North & South Courses.  The South Course here is a little more expensive, & it’s the prettier, more interesting course ~ with four scenic lakes & over 850 palm trees. The North Course is still note-worthy: it’s surrounded by some of the area’s most gorgeous, mid-century modern homes, is longer than the South Course, & features the 100-foot tall “Disney Fountain.”

Cost: $55 (Twilight Rate) – $135

2. Escena Golf Club = The #6-Rated Public Course in California by PGATour.com!  Features stunning views of the San Jacinto Mountains from every tee box, plus there’s a cool, mid-century modern Escena Grill to grab drinks & food at post-round.  Cost: $40-115 

Discover ALL the best happy hour spots in Palm Springs here.

Palm Desert & Rancho Mirage Courses

**3. Desert Willow = Two Championship, 18-Hole Courses: Mountain View & Firecliff.  My dad plays at Desert Willow every week with his buddies ~ this is definitely a local’s favorite spot! The Firecliff track is more challenging at 7,056 yards, & has been voted the #1 Public Access Course by Desert Golf Magazine for THREE years in a row. Mountain View has wider fairways & is more forgiving (my kind of course).  

Cost: $69-198 per round.

4. Westin Mission Hills = Pete Dye Resort Course.  “Potentially Diabolical, Yet Indescribably Playable.” Though Pete Dye is known for creating uber-challenging tracks, this one is considered one of his more “playable.” Views here are GORGEOUS.  Cost: $85-115  

5. JW Marriott Desert Springs = The Palms Course & Valley Course.  Great central location, with beautiful 360 degree views of the valley. Designed by Ted Robinson, the “King of Waterscapes,” you’ll find lots of lakes, streams, & waterfalls here. The Palms Course is named for the famed palm trees lining its fairways, while the Valley Course is known for steep hills & low-lying valleys (sounds hard to me)! 

Cost: $85-155

Indian Wells Golf Courses

**6. Indian Wells Golf Resort = Celebrity Course & the Player’s Course. If you ask locals for their favorite public course in the desert: Indian Wells comes up over & over. With the easier Celebrity Course & more challenging Player’s Course, there’s something for every golfer here. Plus, Indian Wells has some of the best views in the desert, with its location nestled up against the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Cost: $135+

La Quinta Golf Courses

**7. PGA West Stadium Course = Known for its Famous “Island Alcatraz” 17th Hole.  There are six PGA West Golf Courses in La Quinta, & the Stadium Course is arguably the most famous, & usually cited as the most challenging. The annual “Bob Hope Tournament” always finishes here, with many an exciting finish taking place on its iconic “Alcatraz” hole. Take advantage of the fact that this renowned course is open to the public!

Cost: $179+

**8. The Mountain Course at La Quinta Resort = Set Right Up in the Mountains. I LOVE this course!! Of all the valley’s courses, this one gets you the absolute closest to the mountains: including their famous 16th hole, which takes you “up above” the desert & has you teeing off high above the desert floor, literally in the mountainside. The La Quinta Resort also features the Dunes Course ~ but the Mountain Course is by far the more unique of the two.

Cost: $159+

9. Silver Rock = Another Stunning Public Course. For my money: Silver Rock is one of the prettiest courses in town. Similar to the Mountain Course, it’s set right up against the mountains~ & at about 1/2 the cost, it’s one of the best deals in town.  Bring your camera to get some great shots here.

Cost: $60+

10. PGA West Nicklaus Tournament Course = Q-School Contender.  I know all about this course, because I bike around it almost every day when I’m in the desert! This is a player’s course, giving you challenging holes & beautiful desert backdrops, along with two island greens. Great course for a guy’s outing, particularly if you’re a long-ball striker. Cost: $69-189

Best Place to Happy Hour Post-Golf in La Quinta: Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill, in Old Town La Quinta.

Indio Golf Course

11. Eagle Falls, at Fantasy Springs Resort = Fun Round of Golf with a Side of Gambling.  This is one of my mom’s favorite courses! She says it reminds her of Disneyland, is beautifully maintained, & very reasonably-priced at right around $100 per round. Plus, if you like to gamble: this is your spot.

Cost: $95-105

Photos of Palm Springs Courses

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World

Indian Canyons Golf Resort, with its South & North Courses, is one of the best wind-free desert courses ~ as its protected on three sides by mountains.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, Escena

You’re close enough to the mountains at Escena that you’ll get knock-out views on virtually every hole.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, Desert Willow

Desert Willow is one of the busiest courses in the desert, & offers two 18-hole tracks: the more challenging Firecliff, & the equally beautiful Mountain View.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, Westin Mission Hills

The Pete Dye track at the Westin Mission Hills, which has a beautiful Marriott hotel on property, makes for easy golf access.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, JW Marriott

Snow-capped San Jacinto Mountains perfectly frame the golf course at the JW Marriott Desert Springs, a great family resort.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, Indian Wells Golf Resort

A shot from the Player’s Course at Indian Wells Golf Resort, one of the prettiest public courses in the desert.

Best Golf Courses in La Quinta & Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World

Quite possibly the most famous golf hole in the desert: “Island Alcatraz” on the 17th Hole of La Quinta’s Stadium Course, in PGA West.

Best Golf Courses in La Quinta & Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, Mountain Course La Quinta

The Mountain Course at the La Quinta Resort is my favorite course in the desert because it is SO unique, perching you right up in the mountains!

Best Golf Courses in La Quinta & Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, SilverRock

Similar to the Mountain Course, La Quinta’s great public course SilverRock has you sitting right next to the mountains ~ & costs about 1/2 as much as the PGA West courses.

Best Golf Courses in Indio & Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, Eagle Falls

The Eagle Falls Course at Fantasy Springs is a fantastic public option on the east side of the valley, in Indio.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs

If you’re wondering about those inspirational “Bucket List” private courses in Palm Springs: again, I think the east side of the valley wins out.  My friend Mike, who lived in the desert for years & is a serious low-handicap golfer, says his favorite course is The Tradition (next to Old Town La Quinta) ~ he loves the layout & how challenging it is.  As I said, my brother’s favorite course is The Quarry: it’s immaculately, challenging, & tucked wayyy back in La Quinta’s “hidden” mountain cove. 

The most exclusive course in the desert may well be The Madison Club (you need an UBER high net-worth to even be let in here…hellooo Kardashians!) ~ but to be honest, I’ve played here several times, as my friend’s dad was a founding member.  Not to burst anyone’s bubble: I definitely don’t think it’s one of the prettiest courses in the Valley; in my opinion, it’s too far from the mountains to have those really epic views.  But it’s snack bars (stocked with Casamigos Tequila) are indeed legendary…

Best Golf Courses in Palm Springs, Girl Who Travels the World, The Madison Club

A shot I took at the Madison Club, arguably the desert’s most exclusive golf course. But in my humble opinion: it’s pretty, but not THAT much prettier than any other desert course! They’ve done an outstanding job with the vegetation surrounding the course though.

Finally, for those looking to get more out of Palm Springs than just golf, check out my favorite desert hikes here, discover some of Palm Springs’ best brunch spots here, or take a road trip out to Salvation Mountain or Joshua Tree National Park.  And since golf & happy hour go together like PB&J, check out the Valley’s best happy hour spots here….

xoxo Noelia

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