We felt after we had our road trip to the spectacular Fairmont Grand Del Mar, playing the very challenging Fazio layout, something a little closer to home and a lot tamer would be welcome. The 27 – hole layout at the Omni Resort Rancho Las Palmas 15 minutes from our condo in Palm Springs just off of Bob Hope Drive was a wise and enjoyable choice. On this bright and sunny 20C day we were booked to play the West and South nines. The third of the 3 – 9 hole courses the North would have to wait until another day, hopefully during this stay. Noted architect Ted Robinson Sr. successively worked the 27 holes into the landscape which included three holes on the West course down in the low areas known around the Coachella Valley as the “wash”. Due to the potential of flash flooding in this very flat desert valley these runoffs have been created to whisk away any torrential rain’s.
On this day though the unique feature of having golf holes in the low areas did not detract from our round whatsoever as you can see below.
Looking down towards the 1st green on the Par 4 on the West Course
After arriving at the course we checked into the bright and clean pro shop and were greeted by a very friendly lovely new employee named Isle.
One of the many features of Rancho Las Palmas that we appreciated was the proximity of the amenities to the clubhouse. The practice putting green upper and lower driving ranges chipping and bunker area plus the starters hut were all within sight of each other. As well the first hole on each of the three nines originated from this central hub.
Nestled within a fresh looking and well-maintained gated community this golf resort had a very friendly vibe and buzz to it. Customized golf carts of numerous colours and modifications zoomed around with happy residence sharing smiles and jokes with each other as they passed by. With our clubs loaded up onto a power cart complete with GPS Christian, in charge of the starter shack and the cart area spent some time going over what we could expect. During that conversation he did lament the fact that I had club headcovers with the Montréal Canadiens logo on it. He told me he still hadn’t got over the loss to the Canadians by his beloved LA Kings back in the early 90s. We chuckled at this and he said two recent Stanley Cup victories by his Kings had healed those wounds somewhat.
While rolling a few putts on the practice green I noticed one of the greens keepers doing some minor repairs to the edge of it.
Interim Superintendent Manny Langarica tidies up a dry patch on the practice green.
After introducing myself to Manny Langarica a local man and graduate of the turf management program at College of the Desert I gained greater insight to the maintenance of this attractive 27 hole gem.
Manny took the time to show me some of the working aspects of the irrigation system which I have a background in as well as telling me the greens crew included 16 men and one gal.
Not only was he very polite and engaging he was very proud of his role as interim superintendent at Rancho Las Palmas. I witnessed him interact with a couple of members of the greens crew and his manner was very decisive, professional and friendly.
I told him I would put a good word in for him with the management and this good word also goes out to the readership of this review. Employees like Manny you reward and endeavor to keep on board for many, many years. With an upper management background in the golf industry myself if his talents in being a full-time superintendent are continuous with the way he expressed himself with such pride I would soon be dropping the “interim”tag off his title and watch him proudly introduce himself as the superintendent .
Now to our golf day out on the course. We were teamed up with a wonderful couple from Seattle, Jim Farmer and Lynn Withrow.
Their very pleasing nature and friendliness was the perfect fit for us and we hit it off during around and also for an enjoyable half hour sharing a drink and some golf stories afterword looking back over the ninth holes of both the courses we played.
One of the signature holes – The beautiful Par 4 5th over water on the West Course
Most of the holes were generally very flat and this is no complaint. Once you rise up from the lower areas where the wash is you play very pleasing flat holes which effectively use beautiful water features and nice big shallow bunkers to frame the greens.
One hole later on the West a pretty par 3 – Number 6.
Another very eye-catching aspect of this facility are the thousands of tall thin palm trees scattered throughout the course. They are just wide enough to force you to avoid them but are completely groomed at the base and even if you are a mere inches away from the base of them you could still play a full shot. Many of the holes are lined with Spanish style patio homes and on a few occasions residence of these homes would watch you tee off from their deck area.
The home hole The Par 4 9th on the West Course with the clubhouse directly behind
Play moved along steadily and the four of us were really having a great time together. So much so that after we finished and enjoyed a drink on the lovely patio perfectly situated to watch fellow golfers finish we invited them to join us next week for another day of golfing.
Another beauty full of gangly swaying palm trees- the 9th on the South course
If like Myra and I your goal is to go and play golf where you do not feel beat up after your round and feel very welcome in a friendly laid-back atmosphere Rancho Las Palmas is a very wise choice.The quality of the golf course is very good and even the low lips of a few of the greenside bunkers in some cases even allow for an effective use of the putter to get out of.
We would and will come back to play at Rancho Las Palmas again and again.
“No no water you’re not having that ball” Myra beckons after hitting it to 5 feet to finish on the final hole
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.