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PGA WEST’S new ownership is busy restoring ‘The Western Home of Golf in America’

Photo by Evan Schiller

Martin Kaufmann November 8, 2021 10:55 am ET 

From the moment we first glimpsed PGA WEST at the “Skins Game” 35 years ago, we all knew that we had witnessed something transformative. Viewers couldn’t help but marvel at how land so rugged and unforgiving could be transformed into something so beautiful and seductive, ultimately luring an untold number of golfers from around the world to California’s Coachella Valley over the past 35 years.

PGA WEST quickly earned a moniker – “The Western Home of Golf in America” – that reflected the fact that all of the major professional tours and the NCAA regularly visited, allowing the game’s best players to test themselves against some of the stiffest designs of Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Weiskopf, and Greg Norman. It also became a bucket-list destination for avid golfers and an attractive landing spot for couples looking to enjoy the good life in the desert.

Last year Century Golf Partners, an established operator of high-end clubs and resorts, teamed with Hankuk Industry, which owns courses in the U.S. and Japan, to acquire PGA WEST and The Citrus Club, including the Mountain and Dunes golf courses. That set off a whirlwind of activity, with the new ownership pouring resources into course improvements on all nine PGA WEST courses. The goal of this long-term project is three-fold: provide tournament conditions daily; bring more big tournaments to the property; re-establish PGA WEST as a must-visit destination with courses that are fixtures on top-100 lists.

“We want to secure our position in the top five of U.S. club resorts in the U.S.,” said Ben Dobbs, PGA WEST’s Executive Director. “We have the architects, the properties and the location to achieve this. Having iconic golf courses and great architects were just the beginning. Now we must be innovative, relevant and provide exceptional experiences.”

That attitude is reflected in the recently completed work on the Greg Norman Course, which opened in 1999. Greens were restored to their original sizes, and the TifDwarf Bermuda grass was replaced with TifEagle, which eventually will be installed at each course, creating optimal year-round conditions. In addition, more than 100 bunkers were rebuilt, the expansive native areas were restored, and turf was added to enhance playability on the brutal target-golf layout.

PGA WEST has also made a major commitment to deep-tine aerification equipment, ensuring healthier turf conditions. Each course is being aerified twice annually.

“Ultimately, we’ll have firmer greens and the ability to mow them lower,” said Chris May, Director of Agronomy, who will guide the eventual restoration of all nine courses. “We want tournament conditions on all of these courses before and after overseeding. The benefit of doing all of this work is they get in really good shape in the summer as well.”

The work on the Norman Course follows the restoration last year to the Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course – which pairs with PGA WEST Pete Dye Stadium when the PGA TOUR visits each January to play The American Express – and work this year on the Arnold Palmer Private Course.

The latter, with its finishing holes sculpted along the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains, produced some of the most memorable moments of the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing, including David Duval’s closing eagle in 1999 to shoot 59 and win the tournament. The course has never been in better shape. May’s team installed TifEagle putting surfaces over new greens irrigation, restored all greenside bunkers to original specifications, and replaced all of the bunker sand.

Brandon Johnson, the long-time senior architect for Arnold Palmer Design, returned to La Quinta to revitalize the picturesque finishing holes along the All-American Canal. Johnson put in new bunkering on Nos. 14 and 16 to create more differentiation between those approaches and added a knob on the back of the par-5 14th that presents a new risk-reward scenario for players trying to reach in two. “It definitely has a par-5 green now,” May said.

Johnson restored the other greens to their original contours, recapturing Palmer’s original vision.

“He tied together the whole course with one type of look,” May said.

PGA WEST’s executive team will face interesting choices on the Pete Dye Stadium Course, unquestionably one of Dye’s masterpieces. May guarantees “a restoration, not a renovation,” including recapturing the original green shapes and sizes.

“Every idea that Pete had is on this golf course,” May said. “It’s remarkably untouched – partly because it’s always been so busy that they weren’t able to do the work. We want to bring it back to what it once was.”

While May’s team is busy on the course upgrades, Dobbs also is overseeing enhancements to the five clubhouses and amenities. Those amenities include a recently opened $10 million Sports Club.

“Our owners have committed to owning us for generations, so that helps our team make long-term decisions,” Dobbs said. “I’m super-excited to be able to share everything that we are doing with golfers from around the world.”

Dining Around The Desert: Porta Via, Palm Desert

My friend Ambria wrote this article and I thought she did a great job, so why reinvent the wheel? I've added my own notes and photos.

This New Palm Desert Restaurant Will Be Your Go-to Dining Destination

Add This Newbie to Your Foodie Bucket List

As you enter through the green front doors flanked by breeze blocks, a vibrant interior is unveiled with brass details, warm millwork and an exquisite terrazzo-tiled floor. Complete with heaters and misters, the patio of Palm Desert’s all-new Porta Via is shaded by a stunning pergola and offers diners a front-row view of the surrounding mountains.

Credit: George Duchannes

Porta Via at The Shops on El Paseo is the fourth restaurant location for owner Peter Garland. The new addition to Palm Desert fills the 5,000-square-foot space at the corner of El Paseo and Ocotillo Dr, which was previously occupied by Escada. For the restaurant design, Garland partnered with LA Times Top 25 Designer Sophie Goineau to incorporate the midcentury design elements the desert is so famously known for. This is the third time this duo has collaborated on a space, and guests are sure to be smitten by the stunning attention to detail throughout the venue. “A neighborhood restaurant with a world-class feel” is how Garland describes the vibe they embody at Porta Via Palm Desert.

Described as an upscale-California bistro, Porta Via features seasonal and organic ingredients while serving weekend brunch, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. The menu at Porta Via was inspired by Garland’s cooking philosophy: combine the best seasonal, organic ingredients and prepare them simply.

Credit: George Duchannes

Menu highlights include the Porta Via Salad (fresh butter lettuce, sweet Maui onion, dill, chervil, French feta and avocado, all tossed in a housemade champagne shallot vinaigrette) along with the Grilled Ōra King Salmon, Butternut Squash Tortellini and Chef Brennens daily oyster and raw-bar selections. Also featured are artisan-inspired cocktails using locally sourced fruits, herbs and wines from small producers with sustainable and organic practices, in extension of the restaurant’s philosophy. A selection of champagne and sparkling wine are offered for celebratory events.

From healthy to hearty, the innovative menu will have something for everyone. “We are looking forward to opening the doors and welcoming the community,” shares Porta Via General Manager Rebecca Elliott. “Personally, I’m so excited to build upon the relationships I’ve nurtured in my years of hospitality and provide a warm welcome to the people of Palm Desert.”

The restaurant hopes to create a place in Palm Desert where locals and tourists alike will be welcomed by a hospitality-centered staff. “Whether it be brunch with friends, a business luncheon or a date night out, Porta Via Palm Desert will be the place you’ll want to meet,” says Elliott. Those familiar with her know the special touches she adds to a dining experience and the genuine warmth she brings to each guest.

Officially opened on May 5th, Porta Via is a vibrant and welcomed addition to El Paseo and the desert dining scene.

Sheri's notes:

Michael and I were greeted warmly by the several hosts and seated quickly at one of the half booths with views out to the patio and street.  I really like the entire vibe and color scheme as it echoes my office colors and feel.

We started off with a couple of the house specialty drinks. I had Summer In A Glass which is organic vodka, watermelon, lemonade, and mint. Michael had the Island Old Fashioned, made with 15-year aged rum, pineapple, Luxardo Cherry, orange syrup, and bitters. Both were great and we can't wait to try more of the specialty drinks.

We then shared the Tuna Tower as an appetizer which was light and refreshing. I had the Butternut Squash Ravioli with arugula and a white wine sage cream sauce, and Michael had the Brick-Pressed Roasted Chicken with sauteed green chard, mashed potatoes, and a rosemary citrus sauce.

Everything was expertly prepared, our server, Sebastian, was very attentive, as were the bussers and the rest of the staff.

Clearly, the owners of Porta Via know what they are doing, and have good training in place. We'll be returning for a team dinner in a couple of weeks and we are all looking forward to it.

Porta Via Palm Desert

Porta Via Palm Desert
73100 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA 92260
760.610.6670

Hope Erickson

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Sheri followed up with up us a year later after we initially spoke and then we decided to do another project in a different city. She was just checking in with us and it was perfect timing! We were looking for a short-term rental property in the Palm Desert area and she said she has just the right realtor for the job!
That was Kayla Cunard!
Kayla is very well informed on the locations and restrictions of short-term rentals and took us to see exactly what fit our needs.
She was patient and took the time to walk us around and find us the perfect place.
Throughout the process she was efficient, on top of it all, had answers to every question and got the deal closed in about a week!
Kayla went above and beyond what a normal realtor would do by trying to problem solve before the problem even arose! She even took measurements of the space for us and received some of our packages.
She gave us referrals for utilities, cleaning people, handymen, etc...It was the smoothest, most pleasant real estate transaction we've had.
Thank you Kayla and Sheri!

R. Dembekjian

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Very professional and prompt! It was a pleasure conducting the inspection with a professional agent that is knowledgeable of the property and friendly. We look forward to working with Zenona again! 

Patricia Hogan, OR

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"Betsy Justice is delightful! I am so pleased to have connected with her and highly recommend her. She has a wonderful positive attitude and doesn't let anything distract from her quest to find the perfect home that matches all your specifications. Best of all, she managed my expectations so that I was never taken by surprise and always had a solution (or two) for little glitches that might arise in the process--and we had a few glitches that she took the initiative to overcome smoothly. I ended up with a dream home that is even better than I imagined at the beginning of the process. Thank you, thank you, Betsy!"

Mark & Terry, Canada

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Hi Sheri,
Your email reminded me that I forgot to thank you for the nice card we received from you a few weeks back. We really enjoyed working with you, and you made the whole selling process so simple and painless for us. It was well worth the ten-year wait. :)
Bryden mentioned that he referred his good friend Dustin to you and said he was impressed with the service you provided to Dustin and his family.
I was in Palm Springs for a few days last week and visited with Jen & Charles. They also said they were very happy with you & your team and quite liked your easy-going style.
Well done Sheri and best wishes for many more years of success.

A. Magana

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
As a 1st time home buyer Zenona was very informative, and most importantly responsive. I can appreciate her for listening to my needs and concerns all the while being KIND! 

Dining Around Laguna Beach: Splashes, Sapphire, Ysidro

Those of you who have been with me for a long time know that I lost my late husband, Bill, in 2016 to a glioblastoma brain tumor. In 2018, I met Michael, and we got engaged in 2019. Well, we finally pulled the trigger and got married on April 1st!

We went to the Surf and Sand in Laguna Beach for a few days as a quick get-away. One of the wonderful things about that area is so many great restaurants and the fabulous ocean, of course. And it’s only 2 hours away from the desert.

I’m not going to detail every last meal, but rather give you the highlights, as I highly recommend all of these restaurants.

The first night we dined with good friends Dean and Debbie at Ysidora at The Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The service was outstanding, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, the company couldn't have been better, (along with that vintage bottle of Dom from Dean and Deb) and we all went away very glad that we’d had our first night’s dinner there.

The next night we went to Sapphire in Laguna Beach. We sat outside on their spacious patio and made good use of all the heaters as April at the beach is NOT April in the desert!

We started with cast iron roasted brussels sprouts, Romanesco cauliflower, and Kurobuta Pork Belly. Outstanding!

Michael had the crispy duroc pork schnitzel with maitake mushrooms, garden herb spaetzle, baby rainbow carrots, Meyer lemon, and basil emulsion.

I went lighter and had the chardonnay steamed Manilla clams, Mexican white prawns, and P.E.I. mussels with saffron pearl couscous, Spanish chorizo, melted garlic, and charred tomato broth.
Even though we were stuffed, we managed to find room for the Meyer lemon crème Brulee.

We will definitely be back the next time we are in the area.

As we stayed at the Surf and Sand, we had lunch at Splashes one day, which was very good. I had the Avocado Toast with heirloom tomatoes, poached eggs, shaved radish, and everything seasoning. Michael had the Grass-Fed Burger with Fresno onion jam, pepper jack, tomato, pickles, and truffle aioli.

My mom joined us for dinner one night. She had fish tacos, I had seared scallops with crisp enoki mushrooms, pickled cauliflower, puffed quinoa, and a tellicherry pomegranate reduction. Michael had lobster bisque and Icelandic cod in brick dough with purple sweet potato, heirloom carrots, heart of palm salad, yuzu, and white soy gel.

I’ve never had anything less than a stellar meal at Splashes, and this was no exception. It’s the one place I always go to in Laguna.

Dining Around the Desert: Los Arcos, La Quinta

 

Los Arcos is a 10-month-old, family-run, Mexican restaurant in La Quinta. Located in the “old” Ralph’s shopping center at the end of Washington, across from Starbucks.

I’d been seeing glowing reviews on Nextdoor, and so Michael and I decided to try it as there’s always room for another good Mexican restaurant in my book!

We arrived around 6:15 PM and the place was already pretty full. We opted to sit on the patio and soon Jesus arrived to greet us and take our drink order. They have applied for a liquor license, but for now, it’s just beer and wine.

Along with our beers, we started with chips, salsa, and Fresh Tableside Guacamole. Made with avocados, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, and their secret spices, it was very tasty and chunky, just how I like it. The chips were fresh, thin, and perfectly salted. The salsa was very good and came with a kick.

I had a Taco Salad with shredded Chicken which was fine, but nothing spectacular. Next time I’ll try something different as the food that was coming out of the kitchen looked great.

Michael, on the other hand, had the Mojarra Frita. A deep-fried whole tilapia fish served a bed of mixed bell peppers piled on a cast-iron skillet. Served with your choice of corn or flour tortillas. Garnished with pico de Gallo, lettuce, and avocado. It was presented sizzling on a platter and was wonderful. Moist, with crispy skin, just like a whole fish should be.

 

Los Arcos has an extensive menu with a nice selection of burritos, tacos, chile Rellenos, etc…everything you’d expect. The prices are very reasonable with nothing over $24.

Our server, Jesus, is also one of the owners, and couldn’t have been more personable, as was all the staff. We will be back soon!

Open from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, 7 days a week.

50855 Washington St, La Quinta

760-992-5133

 

https://losarcoslq.com/

 

Click here to see the full menu….

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