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Explore Palm Springs: O’Donnell Golf Club

This Palm Springs landmark has a tradition that goes back to the city's early history.

Renee Brown History

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A 1950 postcard of the O'Donnell Golf Club.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PALM SPRINGS HISTORICAL SOCIETY

O’Donnell Golf Club, a Palm Springs landmark, has a tradition that goes back to the early history of Palm Springs.

Thomas O’Donnell and his wife, Dr. Winnifred Willis Jenny, a well-known Long Beach osteopath, built a home on the mountain that looks down on downtown Palm Springs.

Both O’Donnell and his wife loved golf and felt that their home would not be complete without a golf course.

After a visit to The Desert Inn in the early 1920s, Thomas decided to make Palm Springs his winter home. He began building his home on the mountain directly behind The Desert Inn.

Designed by William Tanner, O’Donnell’s home was completed in January of 1925.
Beginning in 1927, O’Donnell carefully planned and, in the next few years, built a beautiful golf course with magnificent palm trees, oleanders, and tamarisks trees. A green carpet of Bermuda and rye grasses was planted. The course grounds have never been allowed to die during all the years since it was constructed.

After 15 years of using the course, both personally and as a spot where his friends and business associates were invited to play, O’Donnell organized the O’Donnell Golf Club in 1944 as a private, non-profit club.

O’Donnell gave the golf course a 99-year lease. At the same time, he gave the golf course property to the City of Palm Springs after the lease expires. His wishes were that his friends and their friends would be able to enjoy his beautiful golf course beyond his time.

There is a multitude of ways to Explore Palm Springs, which turned 75 in 2013. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring Palm Springs history.

The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a weekly story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.


Visit www.pshistoricalsociety.org for more information.

Explore Palm Springs: O’Donnell Golf Club was last modified: November 10th, 2016 by Renee Brown