Play nine? PGA West is your place

LA QUINTA, California — When it comes to the phrase “play nine,” it takes on a whole different meaning when you are talking about PGA West.

For instance, should you be cruising throughout the Southern California desert — perhaps driving along boulevards in Rancho Mirage named for Frank Sinatra or Jack Benny, Barbara Stanwyck or President Gerald Ford — and suggest to someone that you would like to “play nine,” likely you would be directed to a majestic locale.

PGA West, Pete Dye Stadium Course, La Quinta, California. :: Photo: PGA West

PGA West in LaQuinta is a community that features nine elite golf courses — five of which are public, including the famed Pete Dye Stadium Course. Throw in a golf academy and a handful of elite clubhouses and you have one of the world’s premier golf destinations.

What is generating a buzz within the golf community that loves to travel is the restoration work being done at Dye’s Stadium Course. Phase 1 has been completed but a more intensive Phase 2 is about to begin.

“Certain elements of the course have been impacted by the forces of nature throughout the years,” says Ben Dobbs, PGA West executive director. “Our goal is to restore the course back to its prime, offering an unforgettable experience that will attract golfers from every skill level.”

Phase 2 work will commence May 1, under the direction of Tim Liddy, who also oversaw Phase 1.

Highlights to Phase 2 will be an expansion of greens to their original size, work on greenside bunkers, replacing the bermudagrass on the greens with new varieties of grasses, and updating the irrigation system.

If the Pete Dye Stadium Course was intended to be a sequel to his acclaimed Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, he succeeded brilliantly. What is as certain as a warm day in the desert is the likelihood that Liddy and Michael O’Connor, who worked for years with the late Pete Dye, will apply an extraordinary polish that the Stadium Course deserves.

Right now, it is expected that the restoration work will be over by the fall, but the folks at PGA West always have their busy pool of visitors covered. The Pete Dye Mountain, Pete Dye Dunes, Nicklaus Tournament and Greg Norman courses are scheduled to be opened all summer, although there will sporadic closings so as always, it’s best to refer to the website and look for course availability.

The work that will be done at the Dye Stadium Course is the most recent undertaking by Century Golf Partners and Hankuk Industry, which owns golf courses throughout the U.S. and Japan. A whirlwind of activity began almost immediately and changes and updates have been made.

In fact, Liddy will be jumping into the Stadium Course work on the heels of overseeing wonderful work at the Mountain and Dunes courses.

All this work should serve as a reminder that the desert is not just a fall, winter, and spring getaway spot. Not a chance. It’s open all year although you summer temperatures will be considerably hotter.

But if you’ve never been to the Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage or LaQuinta area in the fall, winter and spring, you must push yourself to do so. Should you like your mornings and evenings quite comfortable and your afternoons warm, it is an area that will not disappoint.

For good reason, PGA West is often referred to as “The Western Home of Golf in America” and that’s not just because of the annual PGA Tour visit with The American Express or all those Q School challenges that are thrown at fledgling professionals. No, it’s primarily because PGA West offers such an extraordinary option of courses in ideal weather conditions and on firm turf that golfers by the thousands flock there.

That improvements continue to be made, the latest to the Pete Dye’s Stadium Course, add to the multitude of reasons golf travelers have to stop in at this famed resort.