The Woodhaven Country Club in Palm Desert is like many semi-private clubs in the Coachella Valley.

It has its membership base; sits behind guarded gates; and makes its golf course and facilities available to the public. You can play golf here daily and managers will also welcome your wedding, business meeting or other celebration.

Water comes into play on No. 18

When it comes to golf, the 30-plus year-old course is not one of the brawny giants designed by PGA pros such as the PGA West tracks, or the 36 holes at Indian Wells or Desert Willow; or Silver Rock. What it goes offer is tiny green complexes—often half the size of more modern courses—that roll true and have plenty of contour. From the tips, the course measures out at 5,827 yards at par 70, much shorter than the championship courses of this day.

We played it in early May, right in the transition period for the turf. The superintendent had cut the fairways very tight to allow the summer Bermuda grass to take over from the winter rye that was overseeded last fall. As a result, the fairways were really running—get your drive in the fairway and you will be happy with a short iron in your hand for your second shot. The pro shop team estimated that it will be just two weeks before the Bermuda greens up.

The same goes for the greens that were rolling well despite the mixture of grasses as the summer Bermuda supplants the winter grasses. Bottom line: conditions were excellent, the equal of any upscale course I have played in the area. The superintendent, who came over from an assistant’s position at the exclusive Madison Club, clearly is doing his job well.

Santa Rosa Mountains from the 18th tee

Most of the course is routed around the periphery of the property so fairways are bounded by sound walls on one side and four-plex patio homes on the other. Fairways generally are wide—there are exceptions—and water comes into play only on Nos. 5, 6 and 17.

Given the routing inside sound walls, the mountain vistas are limited to a few holes.

During the start of the shoulder season, rounds listed at $69 and were available online for 30 to 40 percent less.

Woodhaven would be a good choice on a trip and complement the well-known courses during a multi-day visit.

by Tim Hunt

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