Silver Rock Offers Great Golf & Photo Ops

By Gord Montgomery, Senior Writer, Inside Golf

LA QUINTA, California — Set hard against the Santa Rosa Mountains, it’s hard to say what’s better at Silver Rock Resort golf course: the scenery or the golf course itself. As the former home of the Bob Hope Classic (now known as The American Express), you know this 18-hole layout is a great play. At the same time, it’s also a great place to take pictures.

Don’t be upset that the original layout by Arnold Palmer Designs has been changed since the days the PGA TOUR called this spot home. While several holes on the back nine were altered, it’s still a great test of your game, including sand play and putting abilities. It’s a wonderful place to tee it up and pull out your camera, regardless of your skill level in both pastimes.

“Silver Rock was opened in 2005 and the intention of the course, which the City of La Quinta owns, intended to build a golf course good enough to host a PGA TOUR event, but also a golf course that residents (and visitors) could play on a day-to-day basis,” explained Randy Duncan, the club’s General Manager and Director of Golf.

The course hosted its PGA event from 2008 through 2011, which featured the old layout on the back nine, Duncan pointed out. “For example, the 11th hole is new. It was not in play during the tournament and four other holes were modified. They are similar but they’ve been modified,” as a new hotel complex is to sit where the old finishing hole was located.

Huge Bunker Complexes Scattered Strategically Throughout Silver Rock Mean You Have To Aim Carefully …. Or Have Your Sandwedge Ready For Action! (Photo By Gord Montgomery/Inside Golf)

While it’s unlikely anyone will chase down the record score on this track — a 62 by Bubba Watson who feasted on the par-5 holes on the former design. “At the time, Silver Rock played to 7,600 yards-plus. I don’t think they had it back, maybe 7,200 and some change. It wasn’t way back but still pretty difficult,” Duncan noted.

In making your rounds at Silver Rock, referred to as “The Gem Of The Desert,” it’s easy to see where and why that tagline was put into play. The mountains loom over you on several holes, providing an amazing backdrop to watch tee shots fly.

“I think the location, to have a golf course set at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains makes for just an incredible backdrop. Every shot is just postcard quality,” agreed Duncan. “The scenery makes it special. It’s a great layout. The course has a lot of character. It’s a golf course that is fair but also challenging,” made even more so by the huge and somewhat daunting bunker complexes placed in strategic locales that come into play for everyone, regardless of which tee box you choose to start each adventure from.

Silver Rock lets players choose from six tee boxes, as well as combo tees, ranging in distances from 4,500 yards up to 7,200. The conditions on fairways and greens are superb so you do need to be on your game to score well here. There are several holes here that can help improve your score, including the short par-3 13th at 110 yards off the blue tee and a measly 87 off the white. Watch out for the false front on the green on that test, which, if hit, will happily send your ball well back from its original landing spot. The final hole, a short par-4 of 282 from the blue and 254 one box up, is reachable, as long as you avoid the multiple bunker complexes in front of and alongside the green.

With The Mountain Backdrop & The Brilliant Wintertime Sunshine In This Part Of California, Lighting Conditions Can Be Dramatic & Photo Ops Are Plentiful At Silver Rock. (Photo By Gord Montgomery/Inside Golf)

When you head to this pristine place, make sure your game is in shape and your phone’s battery is fully charged because it could be a day of lots of shots — both off the grass and of the great scenery here.

For more on Silver Rock golf, go to By the way, the bighorn sheep pictured in many of the online photos are no longer allowed on the course, thanks to an 8-foot border fence that keeps them as spectators and not participants.