This is the second column of the two part series I had the good fortune of being honoured with a bronze award from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

As with the first, I am posting that story here, as taken from the Winnipeg Free Press for your reading pleasure.

I was back in Palm Springs when I received notification of these awards, and as referenced in the first story, had the currant Palm Springs story in the Winnipeg Free Press on this very day purely by coincidence.

In last week’s column I covered some of the history and activities in and around Palm Springs, as experienced by my son and me during our recent visit to the area.

While this annual father/son adventure always includes experiencing the range of tourist draws in the regions we visit, our primary motivation is always to test our skills, or lack thereof, on the golf tracks.

As promised last week, this column will focus mostly on that activity in this unique region of California.

While the region is most often identified with downtown Palm Springs proper, the area is actually composed of nine separate but interconnected communities that also include Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella. Most of these communities are in the 50,000 population range and travelling between them is easy and stress-free.

Each city offers any number of golf courses from which to choose.

 

Between mid-September and late November, fully one-third to a half of golf courses in the Greater Palm Springs area are closed for over-seeding. This is done annually at this time of year to insure when the majority of tourists arrive for the prime winter months, they will be playing on the finest conditions that can be found on golf tracks anywhere.

While our trip to Palm Springs occurred during this fall time frame, there was no problem in finding courses to play on.

It is part of a deliberate strategy employed here to make sure tourists who visit during shoulder-season periods have plenty of options for quality golf.

The schedule of over-seeding by golf course is also published online. We don’t hear of over-seeding in the same manner as undertaken in desert areas, but the process is an important one.

Most of the courses here have Bermuda grass on them during the hot summer months. The nature of Bermuda grass is such that it will go dormant during the cooler winter months. So ryegrass is seeded over top of the Bermuda, then covered by a layer of sand that makes the courses unplayable until the new seeds root and get strong.

Depending upon who you talk to, there are between 110 and 125 golf courses in the Greater Palm Springs region, many designed by the top names in the industry, from Arnold Palmer to Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus and more.

Many of the resorts have two courses, each developed by a different designer, giving their guests no reason to look further than the property where they choose to stay.

With desert and mountains as a backdrop, it is no wonder so many of the courses stand out as much for the scenery they offer as the challenge of the holes.

When I asked Michael Walker, a Regina native and now club director at the Omni Rancho Los Palmas, why Palm Springs has become such a major golf destination, his answer was simple. “For seven months of the year we have the world’s best weather. From the middle of October to after the end of April, there is no place you’d rather be for golf.”

Maxing out at 6,500 yards, the Rancho Los Palmas course was created to be challenging but enjoyable and affordable for the mid- and higher-handicap golfer.

For those who want the wide-open spaces with few houses bordering the fairways, the Weston Mission Hills Palmer course, the J.W. Marriot Palm Desert tracks and the Indian Wells Resort courses are exceptional.

Many of the resorts have two courses, each developed by a different designer, giving their guests no reason to look further than the property where they choose to stay.

With desert and mountains as a backdrop, it is no wonder so many of the courses stand out as much for the scenery they offer as the challenge of the holes.

When I asked Michael Walker, a Regina native and now club director at the Omni Rancho Los Palmas, why Palm Springs has become such a major golf destination, his answer was simple. “For seven months of the year we have the world’s best weather. From the middle of October to after the end of April, there is no place you’d rather be for golf.”

Maxing out at 6,500 yards, the Rancho Los Palmas course was created to be challenging but enjoyable and affordable for the mid- and higher-handicap golfer.

For those who want the wide-open spaces with few houses bordering the fairways, the Weston Mission Hills Palmer course, the J.W. Marriot Palm Desert tracks and the Indian Wells Resort courses are exceptional.

The new Resort Course offers rolling terrain, loads of target-making shot challenges, lots of water and memorable mountain views.

The older Legends Course was designed more than half a century ago, with narrow tree-lined fairways, more than 40 bunkers and severely sloped greens that make putting a mixture of celebration and chagrin.

There are PGA courses nearby, and two annual golf events are hosted in the area every year.

The Humana Challenge in support of the Clinton Foundation will be played in La Quinta Jan. 15-19. The LPGA Tour’s Kraft Nabisco tournament will be hosted in Rancho Mirage from April 2-5.

While golf was our primary focus during this trip, the quality and variety of unique restaurant choices made it much more interesting than many other places. And the options of things to do, from resort water parks to aerial trams, mountain and valley hiking, along with many other choices, made for an enjoyable vacation.

To find out more about the courses in this prime golf destination area, along with a list of others things to do, contact the Greater Palm Springs Visitors Bureau at www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com.