Desert Classic Off-Site Options for Dining, Golf, and Shopping
Courtesy of Thomas Meagher of Palm Springs Life
Returning in 2019 as the Desert Classic, the 60th anniversary of the valley’s major pro golf tournament will again be a vibrant, spectator-friendly “golf festival,” offering the enhanced fan experience that led to doubling attendance to 60,000 from a year ago, according to tournament officials.
Running Jan. 16-20, the tournament features an attractive golf field with tournament ambassador Phil Mickelson and Palm Desert amateur Charlie Reiter. Additionally, there will again be after-golf rock supplied this year by Sammy Hagar and the Circle Jan. 18, and the legendary Bad Company Jan. 19.
Outside the tournament grounds, here are some suggestions on how to keep the festival vibe going.
Watching the world’s best golfers in-person makes most of us hackers super-eager to hit the links, to try (however unsuccessfully) to channel their ball-striking brilliance and putting mastery. So, if you’re looking to play a round or two yourself while attending the Classic, consider venturing out of the immediate La Quinta neighborhood, for a couple of contrasting takes on desert golf.
Home of the memorable “Skins Game” competitions in 1999 to 2002, Terra Lago, with its north and south tracks, is a 10-minute drive east on Interstate 10. The course guarantees you a “desert-y” golfing experience. Hitting the fairways, on either course, is a must as forbidding “natural” areas frequently await. There isn’t a lot of water in play, but, when it does appear, boy is it dramatic. And the same goes for the elevation changes you’ll encounter: they will challenge your club-selecting savvy, but also provide you with stunning desert vistas.
Half-an-hour west on Interstate 10, Oak Valley in Beaumont is a parkland track on the Coachella Valley’s fringe. In recent years, it has hosted both the opening and closing tournaments for the Golf Channel Am Tour’s Palm Springs tour. Unlike most of Greater Palm Springs’ more familiar tracks, Oak Valley penalizes errant shots with fairway-lining trees that usually eliminate straight-to-the-green recoveries. And the rough here is some of the toughest around.
Food + Drink
Walking 18 with your favorite PGA Tour pro works-up an appetite. After you’ve sampled offerings from a pair of popular local eateries in the fan pavilions at the Desert Classic, check out the restaurants themselves.
Morgan’s pairs traditional cooking methods with California cuisine sourced with ingredients from the valley. Try the Nottingham Ranch Lamb Saddle or the Wild Mushroom Pappardelle pasta. Adobe Grill brings Mexico to the California desert by way of Oaxacan motif. Try the ahi tuna tostadas, a margarita, and the handmade tamales. At Twenty6, this modern American bistro offers the classics, from buttermilk hotcakes for breakfast to rosemary-roasted chicken dinners.
his independent shop has had a loyal local following since it opened in 1981. Comprehensive stock, knowledgeable staff, personable owners (Pete and wife Edna) – those are the basic reasons golfers and tennis players stop by. But the something extra that makes this place unique is the in-store “Jazz for Jazz Lovers” concert series. So if Bad Company isn’t your musical cup of tea after “moving day” at the Desert Classic, head here Jan. 19 for cool modern west coast jazz from the Phil Norman Tentet.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PETE CARLSON’S GOLF & TENNIS SHOP
Pete Carlson’s Golf & Tennis Shop converts into a venue for jazz enthusiasts Saturday evenings in January.
The pros will be sporting the latest lines from the apparel manufacturers – which may remind you that it’s been awhile since you refreshed your own golf wardrobe. Resist the lure of all those new clubs, balls, and game-improvement gadgets at the front of the store and head straight on through to the shirts, trousers, shoes and outerwear from the likes of Puma, Callaway, adidas, and FootJoy.