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Changing again: Indian Wells Golf Resort to construct two new closing holes in redesign

By admin May13,2024


The 18th fairway and green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

The 18th fairway and green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

When John Fought redesigned one of the two courses at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in 2007, he essentially built a new golf course on top of an existing one. But Fought still had one major problem.

“One thing I had to do was keep 17 and 18 because of the (Renaissance Esmeralda Resort) hotel,” Fought recalled. “I never wanted to keep those holes.”

Fought is getting a second chance at redesigning the Players Course at the golf resort, and this time that work will specifically get rid of the par-3 17th and the par-5 18th holes. It’s part of a project to re-route the golf course for the city of Indian Wells’ needs, give land back to the Renaissance hotel and maybe make the course more enticing for professional golf tournaments.

“That was part of the guidance. Troon (the golf resort’s management firm) thinks we would have a challenge getting a PGA Tour course here, but they are comfortable with an LPGA, a senior tournament,” said Chris Freeland, city manager for Indian Wells. “And we have had initial discussions with the LPGA as part of the Epson discussion about coming here.”

More: Epson Tour Championship in Indian Wells will award more exemptions to LPGA for 2025

The par 3 17th hole at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.The par 3 17th hole at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

The par 3 17th hole at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

The city voted last November to sponsor the Epson Tour Championship, the final event of the year for the LPGA’s developmental tour. The Players Course, host of that event the first week of October, should be radically different by the fall of 2025. Currently, 16 holes on the Players Course are on the north side of the Whitewater Wash, but golfers must drive down into the wash to reach the 17th and 18th holes on the south side of the wash.

“There is nothing wrong with those holes. They are just out there in the middle of nowhere,” Fought said.

Freeland said when the course was built originally in 1986 by architect Ted Robinson, the Renaissance wanted those golf holes near the hotel. Now the hotel would like the land back to add family friendly amenities to that resort.

That gave the city the chance to approve a project of nearly $9 million that will change the golf course but also allow the city to add what it feels are needed enhancements.

“Part of the rehab of the course included our desire to do a fire access road,” Freeland said, adding that the access road added $1.5 million to the project. “The city has been talking about that for years, because this bridge (from the clubhouse over the wash to the first tee) cannot handle a fire truck. There really is no access to the pavilion and the rest of the course. So let’s combine these projects together.”

The 18th green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.The 18th green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

The 18th green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

While the prospect of more professional tournaments on the course is on the minds of the city and Fought, there are other changes needed in the redesign that are about everyday play at the golf resort. One is the idea of a ninth hole that comes back to the course’s pavillion rather than leaving golfers out on the golf course, said Mayor Greg Sanders.

“Let’s go back to the returning nine. It is a food and beverage play for us,” Sanders said. “We have the Fairway Grill right out there. If you’ve got people finishing the front nine and stopping at the Fairway Grill, that’s good for revenue.”

The new ninth hole will be a par-3 and return to the pavilion area where the golf resort also hosts parties, weddings and city activities.

“It’s going to be a par-71. We are still going to have four par-5s. We are going to have an extra 3, which is good,” Fought said. “And then we look around and we connect the nines differently. What used to be No. 5 is going to become No. 14, for instance.”

The 18th green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.The 18th green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

The 18th green at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

While some holes will be re-numbered, construction crews will build new holes along the edge of the wash, creating a new set of closing holes and eliminating the old 17th and 18th holes entirely. But two new holes means fitting them into land already used for other holes.

“You can’t just throw two more holes out there. There isn’t blank space,” said Fought, whose courses have hosted four U.S. Women’s Opens, PGA Tour events and U.S. Amateur championships. “We had to move all the holes around. So now what we have to do is change like seven holes to be able to make it work.  But even the remaining holes on the course will see renovation.

“There are things out there that are going to be 18 years old by the time we touch it,” Fought said. “Things like bunkers and the tees. So I try to keep everything that was good about the golf course but add more interest to it.”

That renovation will include bunkers on each hole, new teeing areas and renovating greens on remaining holes so they will play like the greens on the new holes.

Fought said work on the new course will begin probably in mid-March of 2025 with the hope to finish construction in July. That way the course can grow in the base Bermuda grass and still be able to overseed to cool-weather grass for a November opening. That also means that if the option for a second year is picked up on the Epson Tour Championship for 2025, that tournament might be switched to the Clive Clark-designed Celebrity Course at the golf resort for 2025.

Freeland, Sanders and Fought all said it is important for them to retain the award-winning status of the course, which is ranked on numerous national and regional lists of the best public golf courses or resort courses in Southern California.

“I don’t want the golf course to be downgraded in any way,” Fought said. “So I thought it was an opportunity to keep what is good and maybe massage it a little.”

The par 3 17th hole at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.The par 3 17th hole at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

The par 3 17th hole at the Indian Wells Golf Resort in Indian Wells, Calif., April 26, 2024.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Indian Wells Golf Resort to build two new holes for course redesign

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