Staying Short in the Desert

I recently took two quick day trips out to the Coachella Valley. Some friends had arranged for rounds at two of Palm Desert’s smaller private clubs. Both just happened to be executive courses, but I was happy to tag along and check out two new courses. I can’t quite call this one a “short course blitz,” though it was kind of along those lines

Round 1 was on Friday afternoon…

Marrakesh Country Club • Palm Desert, CA • 12/2/16

We enjoyed a nice quick pace. It was extremely windy out here and that definitely impacted play. Not too many other players were out and the heavy wind gusts certainly made a fairly straightforward course more interesting.

Marrakesh is a par-60 layout designed by Ted Robinson, Sr. It is an executive with six short par-4s in the routing. However, we were surprised at how long most of the par-3s played. We actually played the white tees and there were only two of the par-3s under 150 yards. Most were in the 165-190 range.

The design is pretty straightforward and the greens don’t feature much undulation. There are a number of trees (typically tall, skinny palms) lining the tee boxes and creating a few narrow-looking tee shots. This feeling was exaggerated some by the wind because that forced some wider lines that brought some of these trees more into play than normal.

All the holes here are also lined with homes and they can definitely come into play with a stray shot. Once you are safely off the tees, though, it’s not too hard to finish things out.

With a name like Marrakesh, I was expecting a very Moroccan theme. There is one cool room in the clubhouse appropriately nicknamed “the casbah,” and the logo tee markers have the look. Otherwise, there wasn’t too much of that theme brought in. The homes throughout the community were all painted a salmon pink with white trim and roofs. The roofs had kind of that stepped pyramid look that I would consider Bermuda-inspired. The club’s website refers to the architectural style of the residential community as “Hollywood regency.” I’m no architect, but I did find the look of everything here interesting.

The conditions were very nice overall. Things were beautifully lush and green throughout the course. The greens were very firm and running at medium-fast speeds. They did put new white sand in the bunkers. They look very sharp and are excellent to play from.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Marrakesh Country Club quite a bit. It presents more of a challenge than your average executive layout, yet still won’t beat you up too much.

Some pictures from Marrekesh Country Club (12/2/16):

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On Saturday, we were back out in the desert and ready to play a similar course not too far away from Marrakesh…

Chaparral Country Club • Palm Desert, CA • 12/3/16

It’s kind of interesting because Chaparral Country Club also features a par-60 executive course designed by Ted Robinson. This is one he nicknamed his “Little Monster” and now that I’ve played it, I can understand why.

In total, this course is a couple hundreds yard longer than the one at Marrakesh. Those yards add up quickly on a course that’s primarily par-3s. Again, the par-4s here are relatively short and provide good scoring opportunities. It’s the par-3s that will make you work. Even from the white tees, a couple are over 200 yards and there are only a couple of short-ish ones in the mix.

What really puts the “monster” in the nickname is the amount of water on this course. I think only five of the 18 holes do not feature a water hazard in play. In addition, you also have the houses and residential streets along every hole here to provide some OB concerns. However, this course felt significantly less tight than Marrakesh with the homes set a little further away from the course. Overall, though, I would definitely say it is more challenging because of so much water.

The course was in good shape. It was not quite as lush as Marrakesh. Fairways were definitely drier, firmer and faster here, but everything was still very nicely kept. The greens were pretty similar—firm and medium-fast. I wasn’t in any bunkers, so I won’t comment on those. From what I could see, though, they looked to be nice.

Both of these are solid short courses within private senior communities. They will rank pretty closely to one another for me. I thought Chaparral was a better overall layout, but Marrakesh provided a nicer golf experience, with better conditions and inviting atmosphere.

Some pictures from Chaparral Country Club (12/3/16):

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