The Desert Willow Golf Resort Is A Top-Notch Facility

By Gord Montgomery, Senior Writer, Inside Golf

PALM DESERT, California — As a travelling golfer, the one thing you want when taking on a new course is to be wowed by everything put in front of you, running from the parking lot through the 19th hole. At the Desert Willow Golf Resort, that’s exactly what you get.

From the friendly greeting at the bag drop to the entryway into the beautiful clubhouse and the cheerful welcome in the pro shop, which is high-level good, to the two courses here, everything is first-rate.

Constantly regarded as one of the top places to play in the Palm Springs area, Desert Willow Golf Resort certainly holds its own. The reason for staying so highly regarded, said Director of Golf and Assistant GM Ryan Szydlowski, is due to being proactive rather than reactive with turf care and more.

“We have a great capital improvement plan so we’re always planning, keeping the courses, the clubhouse, and the amenities top of mind,” taking care of this 36-hole facility, which sees play on Firecliff and Mountain View.

Add to that the lengthy tenure of those leading the charge at this facility and it’s no wonder that their loyalty program is strong along with public play. Szydlowski noted their head pro is in his 17th season, the GM has been stationed there for 18 years, while Szydlowski is in his 16th year at the facility. Four of their guest services staff have been onsite for over 15 years. “So that core group can get a lot more done, plan better, and that keeps the guests coming back.”

What people come back for are the challenges facing them on the two tracks. Szydlowski noted neither is better than the other.

Firecliff Sees Forced Carries, Which Aren’t Overly Large, Off Each Tee, Meaning Drives Best Be Airborne To Reach Immaculate Fairways. (Photo By Gord Montgomery/Inside Golf)

“We’ve been guilty of our marketing over the years that Firecliff is better. The difference in the courses is simply that Firecliff has island tee boxes and Mountain View’s tee boxes are surrounded by grass. When you’re on the first tee on Firecliff, you’ll have all the trouble in your eye but the fairways are just as wide as they are on Mountain View. There are visual forced carries (on Firecliff) even if they are only 20 or 30 yards. The bunkers are in your face from the tee. Whereas on Mountain View, you have green grass from the tee to the fairway. The par 3’s on Mountain View are harder than Firecliff’s. So, we’ve been working hard to promote how good Mountain View is.”

My tour of Firecliff was enjoyable with pristine fairways and tee boxes leading the way. Playing from a distance of 5,600 yards (remember, this was my first round in a few months and I wanted to enjoy this experience and not become frustrated by it), the par 4 holes, for the most part, were easily reachable in two. The longest of those holes from that particular tee was 373 yards, which from a box up measures 408 yards. There were a couple of birdie-seeking, go-for-broke holes of 264 and 258 yards, plus a par 5 that topped out at 411 yards. The par-3 tests were challenging even though the longest was 157 yards, but most are guarded with strategic bunkering and water fronting and siding the putting surfaces.

The Par 3 Holes, Including No. 14 On Firecliff, Are Challenging Given The Protection That Bunkers and Water Serve Up. (Photo By Gord Montgomery/Inside Golf)

From different tees, Firecliff measures out at 7,056; 6,676; 6,427; 6,173; 5,642; and 5,079 from the most forward tee so whether your first round of the year or you’ve been going for a while, there is a place to start from for every skill level.

With a wealth of courses in this area of California, Szydlowski noted the staff at Desert Willow Golf Resort is what stands out in bringing players back time and again.

“We’re surrounded by many great neighbours,” he commented. “Our difference is our staff. We put a lot of effort into staff training. Our courses are great but if we don’t have good interaction (with the paying public) they’ll go elsewhere.”

Speaking of going somewhere else, I’m heading to Mountain View at the Desert Willow Golf Resort to again experience the friendliness of a great golf destination in Palm Desert.