Escena Golf Club is located on the eastern edge of the city of Palm Spring with delightful vistas of the San Jacinto Mountains creating the back drop from the first tee, especially if you are going off just after sunrise and looking west at the snow-capped peaks.

Move around to the back nine on the Jack Nicklaus-designed track and the Santa Rosa Mountains come into view.

Designed as a 45-acre luxury housing development that got trapped in the deep recession in 2008, Escena is open to the public for golf with all of the amenities that you would expect—attentive service, excellent course conditions and quick greens. Construction of housing now is going great guns with four builders with neighborhoods underway and there already are plenty of homes bordering the course.

One note—be sure to take advantage of the warm-up area because Nicklaus did golfers no favors with the first hole—it’s the No.1 handicap hole on the golf course at 611 yards from the tips. The practice area consists of a driving cage plus a green and sand trap—spending a bit of time at each spot is recommended.


Views of the Santa Rosa Mountains from the back nine.,

Views of the Santa Rosa Mountains from the back nine.,

The course is a typical Nicklaus design—plenty of rooms off the tees, but precise approach shots are necessary to well-bunkered greens. When we played in December 2016, the superintendent had removed the lush grass that previously surrounded many greenside bunkers. It made the course even more playable. Water comes into play on nine holes—one particular challenge is the par 5, No. 15, with a stream running the length of the fairway on the left and the green perched behind a lake.

No. 18 also requires an approach shot over a creek to the final green.

The par 3s are particularly challenging—they range from 163 yards to 223 and 240 from the tips and include plenty of bunkers. There also are a number of six par 4s that stretch out to more than 400 yards, including No. 10 (445 yards) and No. 14 (462  yards).

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