Desert Willow Golf Resort turns 20 this year and along with its owner, the City of Palm Desert, the resort will fête the occasion Memorial Day weekend with its inaugural 36-hole City of Palm Desert Best Ball Championship, May 27–28.
According to Jason Wilkinson, tournament coordinator at Desert Willow, the Best Ball Championship is the collective brainchild of city officials and Desert Willow staffers and golfers. “Back in 2007, Desert Willow’s 10th anniversary had been marked with a low-key scramble,” Wilkinson says. “This anniversary called for something more. And what better, we all thought, than a city championship on Desert Willow’s two extraordinary municipal courses.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Palm Desert Mayor Jan Harnik. “For two decades, Desert Willow Golf Resort and its visually stunning desert setting have served as an unparalleled recreational amenity for our residents and visitors and a vital economic driver for our local economy,” Harnik says. “The City of Palm Desert is proud to support this unique two-day tournament as a way to showcase the healthy fun and natural beauty available throughout the year to guests at Desert Willow.”
Harnik and Wilkinson both emphasize that Palm Desert and Desert Willow intend to keep the city championship a valley golf fixture, sticking to late-May “shoulder season” dates (and thus settling in between over-scheduled winter months and under-crowded summers) and a best-ball format, which is most conducive to promoting balanced camaraderie and competition.
The field will consist of up to 72 two-person, same-sex teams who will be flighted according to handicap. In round one, teams will negotiate Desert Willow’s Mountain View course; round two will move to Firecliff. Both Desert Willow layouts were designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry (their Erin Hills course in Wisconsin is this year’s U.S. Open site) along with PGA Tour pro and Golf Channel regular John Cook.
And it isn’t only on-course that Desert Willow is notable: Earlier this year the resort ranked fourth in the U.S. on Golf Advisor’s list of best off-course amenities.
The post-tournament luncheon Sunday will include prizes like a helicopter tour of the Coachella Valley for three and a high-octane driving experience at BMW Performance Center West. An added perk for all entrants is a complimentary practice round on either course, available the Friday before the tournament starting at noon.
First annual City of Palm Desert Best Ball Championship, May 27–28, Desert Willow Golf Resort, 38995 Desert Wilow Drive, Palm Desert. 760-346-0015; desertwillow.com/citychampionship
June Golf Tournaments in the Coachella Valley Summer play does not end with the Palm Desert Best Ball Championship.
June 3–4, Desert Falls Country Club in Palm Desert hosts the Destination Finals Tournament. While this 36-hole individual medal play competition is a stand-alone contest, it’s also the third and final event in the inaugural Coachella Valley Golf Championship Series, presented by GolfNews Magazine. For more information, visit golfnewsmag.com or email [email protected]
Also June 4 and again June 18, the Palm Springs branch of the Golf Channel Am Tour will conduct one-day individual stroke play tournaments. June 4, the tournament happens at Mountain View Country Club in La Quinta.
June 18, the specially named Pete Dye Father’s Day Challenge takes place on the Pete Dye course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. For more information, email [email protected] or contact Palm Springs Tour Director Carol Van Natta at 760-409-4795.
First annual City of Palm Desert Best Ball Championship, May 27-28.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DESERT WILLOW GOLF COURSE