Lavishly adorned with beautiful wood grain throughout, the pro shop at Shadow Ridge
Back in his playing days on the PGA tours of the world I don’t ever remember Nick Faldo for his exemplary bunker play. Perhaps it was that his ball striking was so fine tuned that he avoided these often treacherous hazards.
A gentle opening Par 4.
In designing the challenging and rewarding layout of the Marriott Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert maybe he thought that he was so renowned for his on course play he would get as much notoriety for his course design.
Look at all the lovely sand.
The bunker configuration strewn throughout the course is certainly something to pay strict attention to during your round. Couple this with very large undulating greens some with four or five different tiers on them and you are in for a day where the emphasis is certainly on positioning your approach shot carefully and correctly.
A stunning view from the approach position
At one point during the round I wrote down the word “ridiculous” in describing the greens. I should have written down “ridiculously fun”. Looking back at my scorecard I realized that I had not three putted once during my round and perhaps the difficulty forced me to think a little more about where to position my approach shots. One of the many benefits of playing the course and certainly if you were there for a longer duration as a guest of this beautiful resort are two things. You can show up a couple of hours before tee off and take advantage of the huge variety of practice areas to hone your game. You could also commit to game improvement by choosing one of the many personalized teaching programs offered at the world-famous Marriott golf academy.
The home hole on the front nine with the spectacular clubhouse off to the left
The practice facility includes a grass teed driving range with numerous target flags, a separate wedge range for working on shorter high lofted approach shots, a separate chipping green with a green side bunker and a large practice putting green all within the same confines of the facility.
We came to realize all of these fine features shortly after checking in at the pro shop with David who exhibited a very friendly professional manner and a nice firm handshake upon introduction. We were introduced to our two playing partners Nelson from Cleveland Ohio and David a fellow Canadian from Richmond British Columbia by a very warm and friendly gentleman named Ed, the starter. He provided us with all the information about the course and it’s amenities and capped it off with a very heartwarming “folks have the best day of your life here today”. Myra and I thought that was a really special send off.
Fire it at the flag on this Par 3
Although situated down here in desert country the course had a parkland feel to it with an abundance of beautiful foliage, large tree and bushes and none of the cactus like vegetation that we witnessed at many of the other courses we played already. All the usual aspects of a golf course of this note were in very good condition and particularly the colour of the fairway turf was the most brilliant dark green that we have seen so far.
The 16th green buttressed by a rock wall and guarded by water
The bunkers, yes those bunkers, some with very high severe front slope’s possess a beautiful soft textured sand which allowed for an effective explosion shot to extricate the ball out of.
Out on the course the cart service lady Paula, born and raised in the area from Rancho Mirage was very friendly and pleasing to say hi to.
All four of us played some technically sound shots including 2- 50 foot plus putts by Myra one that sat perilously on the lip of the hole, another just sliding by the lip and stopping within a foot.
There are more than a handful of really spectacular holes on this course and the par threes are all a fair test and really fun to fire at.
The Par 3 17th, Nelson plays it left as I did and let it roll to the hole
I put together a really sound 38 on the front nine and was primed for breaking 80 on the day. A group behind us which persisted in pushing us most of the round and a request by the Marshal to speed killed any chance of that as my last 5 holes were a disaster going triple, triple, par, par, triple. Arrrrrggggg!
Nonetheless for the most part it was a great day out and confirmed that I could take on this stunning layout and challenge the mid 70’s under different circumstances.
We spoke with Brett Meabon, the Director of Golf a very approachable and friendly fellow originally from Pennsylvania and shared many positive thoughts with him about the course and overall facility. We asked him to pass on our best wishes to the golf superintendent Kevin Wallace whose crew is doing a bang up job here and in future trips we hope to make The Marriott Shadow Ridge another one of the courses that we get to enjoy in the Coachella Valley.
The finishing hole, tight and testy with a meandering creek run throughout
Bill Flower is a passionate golfer and lover of the game who lives on Vancouver Island in Parksville, BC. He has played the game since the age of 10 and has spent many years in the golf business ranging from full time teaching pro to part time professional caddy, golf tour operator and golf writer. He loves to travel with his wife Myra up and down the west coast of the US playing and reviewing golf courses of all styles.