The day started out with cool temperatures and overcast skies and that was to be the order of the day although it wasn’t the snowy and icy conditions friends and relatives from back in Canada were sharing with us.
Due to recent shoulder surgery our host Director of Golf Grant Fuhr wasn’t able to play with us as planned but we were treated all the same to the company of a very warm and friendly New Yorker, Mr. Steve Mutkoski a part time member of Desert Dunes.
After checking in with Jose in the pro shop we were pleased to meet one heck of a nice guy named Rick who was working the cart and back shop area. Like me he was a former painter and ex golf pro. He was one of the nicest and most competent customer service persons we have met in our travels and away from the playing aspect of the day he was one of the most positive aspects of our experience at Desert Dunes.
We also appreciated meeting the starter a fellow Canadian from Armstrong, BC named Morris.
Originally from Calgary, AB Morris also worked at Hyde Mountain Golf Course in the Shuswaps as a starter so he knew his stuff.
We set out, a poised threesome, to tackle this Robert Trent Jones layout. As a big fan of the Trent Jones design style I was able to look past some of the short comings at Desert Dunes. As Myra put it so succinctly this course has really “good bones”. Like a solidly built house that needs nothing more than a good cleaning and a coat of paint Desert Dunes would benefit from a really thorough tidying up to be honest but as we all concurred we weren’t hitting golf balls from the dated pro shop carpet.
For those of you in the know development in the greater Palm Springs area has trended more to the south east and areas like Rancho Mirage and La Quinta now prosper whereby north Palm Springs has suffered over the years.
Golf numbers as a whole are down globally and golf course owners and operators often struggle to make a profit with budgetary restraints which mean the majority of the expense is turf management and course maintenance. Be that as it may an ex painter on staff could be an even more valuable asset if given a few extra hours a week to brighten up the place.
Even though the course was looking equally lacking in attention to detail a RT Jones layout of this quality is always worth playing and in an effort to put golfers on the course the rates were very reasonable and some of the holes absolutely fantastic. Both the finishing holes 9 and 18 share one of the biggest double greens you will ever see and some of the Par 4’s like the 411 yard 15th which surrendered quite an amazing birdie to me are very special.
The vegetation and fauna off the fairways is really rustic and reflective of the native species with an impressive array of cactus and agave as well as holes 10 and 11 two shortish Par 4’s both lined with Tamarisk trees.
As is the case with most RT Jones layouts the approach shots are the most demanding and if your iron game is on, your score will flourish, miss it right or left and some very perilous bunkers await with mouths gaping.
We were cruising right along hitting some good some bad as is the norm. It never really warmed up and at this often windy layout there was not a breath of wind so it made conditions quite playable. The Desert Dunes layout deserves to be frequented by more and more golfers and the likes of Rick and Morris are additional positive factors that will enhance that commitment.
The new Canadian ownership welcomes all golfers especially fellow Canucks like Myra and I and here’s hoping some of the 4-inch long aprons get trimmed, sand replaced in the bunkers and the fairways and greens fill in a little when the warmer sunny weather beams its nutritious rays down from above.
The course, golfers and Desert Dunes deserve it.