On Sunday, I had the pleasure of playing both courses at Toscana Country Club in Indian Wells. What a treat for my 849th and 850th courses played!
As far as the desert’s many high-end private clubs go, Toscana doesn’t seem to get quite as much attention as others. Part of that may be due to the fact that the North Course here is still relatively new. However, now it can definitely compete with a lot of the incredible 36-plus-hole facilities in the Coachella Valley.
I signed up for an SCGA member outing to play the North Course in a 9:00 shotgun start. I was lucky to get into the event at the last minute after some registration confusion. My group started on the beautiful par-3 15th hole and we enjoyed a nice pace of play.
My reviews of the Toscana courses may end up being a little backward because North is the newer course of the two. One of the great appeals of Toscana is the fact that both courses offer something fairly different in terms of design. Both were crafted by Jack Nicklaus. The North was referred to by our caddie as “the desert course” because it’s definitely more of a desert style. All the holes are lined with native desert areas that can easily come into play. The South, by contrast, is more wide open with sprawling green grass from edge to edge. More on that later, though.
Ultimately, the yardages and ratings/slopes for both courses are very comparable. You get two pretty different styles with different, yet equally challenging layouts. That’s great for a membership group that hopefully appreciates having this option to mix things up from day to day.
I mentioned the North Course is the newer of the two. The front nine is only a few years old and the back nine was just opened last year.
However you want to describe the desert style, it is a gorgeous golf course. There is a lot of water in play, especially on that newer back nine. I couldn’t even narrow it down to just one or two signature holes because there are many great holes here. The 16th sure offers a stunning view and a demanding target design, though. It’s a fantastic par-4 hole.
Both the North and South Courses require strategic thinking. There are many doglegs in play, which means there are a lot of risk/reward options for longer hitters. At the same time, every hole offers a conservative fairway route where you can position yourself for a good angle in. One common Nicklaus feature is well-protected, elevated greens that are often shallow or diagonally oriented. There are plenty of difficult-to-get-at greens on both courses.
What I liked about Toscana is there seemed to be a very fair distribution of shots that favored a left-to-right or right-to-left shot shape. Straight hitters can also do well with proper positioning. Some holes work both ways, favoring a fade on the drive and then a draw on the approach (or vice versa). It was interesting. I play a definite fade and am a short hitter. I certainly felt more comfortable on some shots than others. At the same time, I never felt like I didn’t have a chance to score well other than maybe a few holes. There always seemed to be an angle or option at my disposal. I didn’t execute every time, but that’s not the point. Overall, I felt the courses were plenty challenging, yet pretty fair.
The conditions on the North Course were exceptional all the way around. The grass was lush, green and nicely manicured from tee to green. The bunkers were good. The greens were on the firm side, with the back nine greens being a tad firmer than the front (newer surfaces), but were rolling smooth at medium speeds during this transitional time of year where the bermuda is starting to take back over.
In case you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed the North Course. So I was looking forward to the South in the afternoon.
Some pictures from Toscana Country Club (North Course) (5/14/17):
After a brief break, a friend and I went out for our second round on the South Course along with our great caddie, Scott. My friend (a fellow course collector) was able to arrange the replay and invite me along, so I am eternally grateful. This time, we more or less had the course to ourselves for a quick round. We played through one twosome along the way. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing on a late Sunday afternoon.
I knew the courses were supposed to have different looks and styles, but I was really taken by how different the South Course felt immediately. It features more rolling terrain, lush landscaping and bright white sand bunkers (over 120 of them). The grass runs from edge to edge and the outer areas are landscaped with flowers, trees and bushes. There are more homes around this course, as well, since it is the older part of the development.
Though the look is completely different from the North, the strategic design is actually very similar. You have big doglegs with risk/reward options, elevated shallow/diagonal greens, and still plenty of big water hazards in play. North definitely has more water than the South, though. There is some more room for error with the wider stretches of rough off to the sides. However, a good score still requires strategic positioning and playing the right angles. In fact, you can make an argument that the South will be more challenging for some people because it feels more wide open and that may lead to stray shots. You still want to hit fairways and greens here, and the bunkers need to be avoided at all costs.
I mentioned the landscaping and that sure stands out throughout the entire Toscana Country Club property, along with the Tuscan-inspired architecture. I was reminded at times of The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe, which also infuses that Tuscan style. The clubhouse at Toscana is impressive, and so are the practice facilities. Everything about this place is top-notch, including the jars of fresh-baked cookies at the comfort stations!
There was one stretch of holes on the South I really liked, and that was 11-13. These three holes circle around a huge water hazard that comes into play on just about every shot. The 11th is a nice par-4 with a very well-protected green. The 12th is a beautiful par-3. Then, the 12th is a demanding short par-4 that is risk/reward all the way. Talk about a scary approach shot!
Another hole I really liked on South was the par-3 7th. In fact, both courses feature similar signature par-3s as the 7th holes. They both favor a draw (right-to-left) with the intimidating tee shot over the water and nice rock walls edging the greens, though the one on the South Course plays a bit shorter than the one on the North. My own fortunes were quite different, as I almost aced the North 7th (settling for an easy par after a delicate birdie attempt) and then took a double on the South 7th after dumping my tee shot into the water (just a few feet short of perfection).
Conditions on the South Course were just as ideal on the North. The greens were slightly more receptive here and the white sand was nice. Both courses have nice sand to hit from (I actually prefer playing from what they have on the North), but the bunkers do look prettier on the South with the white sand contrasting against the lush green grass.
Overall, it was an amazing 36-hole experience at Toscana Country Club. I loved both courses and was impressed with everything about this club. If you ever get a chance to play here, jump on the opportunity immediately!
Some pictures from Toscana Country Club (South Course) (5/14/17):