Guests at the resort, which has been a hideaway for Hollywood stars since 1926, have the luxury of choosing from five magnificent and varied courses on which to play.
There are the Mountain and Dunes courses on the hotel property, and the TPC Stadium Course, the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course and the Greg Norman Course right down the road at PGA West.
Both courses at the hotel and the famed Stadium Course were designed by the legendary Pete Dye.
The Mountain Course, which plays along the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and opened in 1960, has hosted the World Cup of Golf, the California State Open and the PGA National Club Professional Championship. It measures 6,756 yards from the back tees and plays to a par of 72.
Even though the Dunes Course (opened in 1981) runs alongside the Mountain, the 6,742-yard layout meanders through flatter desert terrain. It is a kinder, gentler Dye layout for the resort golfer, although it can provide plenty of challenge and has hosted PGA Tour Qualifying School six times.
The TPC Stadium Course, which opened in 1986, is most famous as host of the Skins Game from 1986 to 1991, with Fuzzy Zoeller, Lee Trevino, Curtis Strange (twice), Raymond Floyd and Payne Stewart hoisting the trophy. It stretches to 6,753 from the tips, plays to a par of 72 and was part of the Bob Hope Classic rotation in 1987.
Jack Nicklaus Course
The Nicklaus Tournament Course, which opened in 1987, is a tamer version of the Stadium Course and also has hosted PGA Tour Q-School. It measures 6,556 yards and plays to a par of 72.
The Norman Course is the youngest of the five, having opened in 1999. It lies in an ancient seabed 40 feet below sea level and is surrounded by dark, forbidding mountains that contrast the grass and the white crushed marble in the bunkers. The Norman Course can play the longest of the five at 7,156 yards and a par of 72, but there are five sets of tees.
TPC Stadium Course
The most famous hole among this fabulous fivesome of courses is the 147-yard 17th hole on the Stadium Course, which is known as “Alcatraz” because of its island green. Lee Trevino made the hole part of golfing lore with the only hole in one in the history of the Skins Game in 1987.
Before you get to Alcatraz, try to stay out of the 19-foot deep waste bunker the on the par-5 16th hole. Short-game guru Dave Pelz once started an instructional show on the Golf Channel from the bottom of the bunker.
Even though the Dunes might be the most user-friendly course of the bunch, its 17th hole is annually selected by the PGA of America as one of the most difficult par 4s in the United States. The 433-yard monster wraps around a large lake that runs all the way down the left to a treacherous, two-tiered green.
And No. 18 on the Dunes is no picnic either, even though it is only 390 yards, because this time the water is on the right.
No. 16 is the signature hole on the Mountain Course, a gorgeous 167-yard par 3 from an elevated green. It runs alongside a huge talus slide and has been called one of the 500 Best Holes in the World by Golf Magazine.
Best of the Nicklaus Course probably is the par-5, 561-yard 15th, which features a well-bunkered island green. The finishing hole, a 432-yard par 4, requires an approach shot over water to a huge double green it shares with the ninth hole.
Greg Norman Course
No. 8 on the Norman Course lists at 617 yards from the back tees, with water running all the way down the right side of the hole, one of nine ponds on the course covering 18 acres.
When you get on the greens, remember that putts in the Coachella Valley tend to break toward Indio to the East.
OTHER COURSES IN THE AREA: If five courses are not enough, the city of La Quinta also boasts another world-class course at Trilogy Golf Club, which hosted the Skins Game from 2003-2006. There are more than 100 golf courses across the Coachella Valley and 300-plus sunny days a year on which to play them. What more could a golfer ask?
WHERE TO STAY: The La Quinta Resort and Club features 800 guest rooms tucked away in Spanish-style casitas throughout the 45-acre property. In addition to five championship golf courses, guests also have the use of 23 tennis courts, 42 swimming pools, 52 hot tubs, five restaurants and the world-famous Spa La Quinta.
Other golf resorts in the Coachella Valley include the Westin Mission Hills Resort, the Doral Desert Princess in Cathedral City, Rancho Las Palmas Marriott Resort in Rancho Mirage, Indian Canyon Golf Resort in Palm Springs, the Golf Resort at Indian Wells, Indian Palms Country Club and Resort in Indio, the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort and Spa in Indian Wells and Cimarron Golf Resort in Cathedral City.