Situated on a hill overlooking the remote and sleepy town of Borrego Springs, Rams Hill Golf Club provides the golfer with an incredibly scenic and fun round of desert golf.
Rams Hill was originally designed by Ted Robinson in 1983 as a 27-hole layout and suffered through a rocky financial history with multiple owners buying, selling and renaming the property over the decades. In 2007, the property was completely redesigned by Tom Fazio, resulting in a brand new 18-hole course. Due to ongoing financial issues, the course closed in 2010 only to reopen in 2014 using the original Rams Hill name.
Both nines feature the aforementioned hill as the course makes its way up and across the ridgeline for the front nine and then plays downhill for the back nine. Rams Hill offers a variety of tee box options starting at 5,064 yards from the ladies tees and stretching to 7,247 yards from the black tees.
Favorite holes on the course include the 5th, which is a long par three with water challenging the golfer most of the way and the downhill par five 11th which provides amazing views of Borrego Springs and leads to the green nestled next to a small pond.
Despite being a desert course, the local springs allows for a surprising number of water features and, unlike many Palm Springs courses, Rams Hill closes for the summer allowing the layout to survive the brutal heat and to ensure that when it is open, the conditioning is in top shape.
Rams Hill is truly a hidden gem of California golf courses.
Article by Pete Flanigan.
My second time at Rams Hill, my first experience was fantastic. The first time which was over a year ago, the conditions were some of the best I’ve ever seen on a course. Fairways like carpet, unique dried out rough around the bunkers, truly a golf paradise. My friends and I planned a full day and were very excited to play Rams Hill again today, unfortunately, it’s just not the same in any retrospect. May be that we had to wait until the end of the season, or it may be that they supposedly have a salt issue in their well water. Nonetheless, the course is under no circumstances worth $200. The greens and tee boxes are in great condition, but the fairways are average to below average currently. The dried out rough around the bunkers now no longer exists. What was a golf paradise the first time I played is now a slightly above average Palm Springs course. If the greens fees were discounted to maybe even $125 I would feel much better about the experience. But at $205 for the round and a 2 hour drive from any civilization, the course is simply not worth it right now. Moreover, in no way shape or form is it a top 50 course in America in its current condition. I wouldn’t even put it top 100. Sad, but hopefully it’s a temporary blip in what was a phenomenal course. It was one of my friend’s first time playing the course, he doesn’t want to go back for the money.
I think I played Rams Hill this morning...but after reading the reviews posted already I have mu doubts in certain respects. Yes, it is a very good Fazio (full disclosure...I am not a big Fazio fan). But the condition of the fairways was simply no better than awful! Large areas of the fairways were totally burned out and had zero grass. I do not beige that a course has to be perfect conditioning wise, but when about 40+% of your fairway shots are played off "nothing but dirt" and sometimes wet dirt, that becomes unacceptable IMO.
I have played Rams Hill several times over the years and never once experienced what you outlined in your comments. I don't doubt your veracity, but I am scratching my head and trying to understand how such situations have come into being?
If memory serves, the superintendent was at The Madison Club before coming to Rams Hills. Something of a dramatic sort likely occurred.
Have to ask - how were the greens and tees? My first time at Rams Hill blew me away with the meticulous nature of the detailing tied to the course grooming -- fairways were green but set up in a firm manner. The greens were rolling in the range of 12-13 on the Stimpmeter.
I salute your honesty about not being a TF fan and I have opined that quite a few of his layouts are often in the cookie-cutter formula although on the flip side TF has created a fair number of stellar layouts.
You may or may not know this -- but there was discussion on adding a second 18 to the complex as well as adding on-site accommodations. When I have been in the area, I have stayed at the nearby La Casa del Zorro.
For the fairways to be in the conditions mentioned is certainly disturbing. Somehow there must be a reason tied to this -- possibly others who have played the course recently can weigh in and possible shed some additional light.
Sometimes the best decisions come when realizing an existing course is no longer feasible and then moving ahead with a massive overhaul. That was the risk taken with Rams Hills in jettisoning the former 27-hole Ted Robinson layout called Montesoro and smartly hiring the gifted Tom Fazio and his team to create an 18-hole Shangri-La in the desert community of Borrego Springs.
Fazio got involved in 2007 with a complete redesign for just 18-holes. That course suffered and eventually closed in 2010 and through fortunate circumstances, was purchased by new ownership and resurrecting the facility with a major reopening in 2014. Such on, off and on again situations are rare and do not often take hold.
Unlike numerous other Fazio courses which can be at best described with the Texas phrase -- "all hat and no cattle" -- Rams Hills is far from just a course that "looks" good. There's plenty of strategic interest and is very elastic in testing better players while at the same time permitting higher handicaps appropriate leeway.
Rams Hills, at least to this point, is not cluttered in the same manner as courses are throughout much of the nearby Coachella Valley and Palm Springs environs. That may change in the years ahead as plans for housing and a high-end hotel take root. It will be interesting to monitor if the golf experience is not overwhelmed with a whole slew of distractions. The terrain provides sufficient movement and the routing is very good - moving in different directions and providing for a range of shotmaking challenges keeping players on their toes at all times.
Interestingly, Rams Hill is located in the far northeast corner of San Diego County and is blessed to be near the Anza Borrego State Park -- California's largest and which makes up 1/5th of the County.
Rams Hill possesses an array of different green shapes and contours and on that front Fazio has done an exceptional effort. Hitting a green in the regulation stroke is not simply sufficient in order to reap a reward. The internal slopes are beautifully created and pin locations can be located in a range of areas -- many quite hidden.
The desert experience is central to playing the course but the savage penal nature of closely cropped areas abutting the natural environment is carried out in a sensible manner.
Turf quality is of the highest order and when the putting surfaces are really rolling it demands a steady stroke. There is no singular hole that stands heads and shoulders above the others because the collective strength of the individual holes works so well in tandem with one another. One of the really neat virtues is that the golf experience is a continuous manner -- no coming back to the main clubhouse.
Rams Hill is a bit off the beaten track but spending time in Borrego Springs is a clear get away from all the hustle and bustle. Hats off to the new ownership because what appeared to be likely corpse for a golf course has been resurrected in a truly magnificent manner.
M. James Ward
Rams Hill is one of the best hidden gems in the country. The drive to Rams Hill is so mello and peaceful because of the awesome scenery. The best part is that you will never have to sit in any traffic while driving to Rams Hill. When you arrive at the gates, it's a huge surprise to see such a nice community in the middle of nowhere. The course is always in Tour quality condition and the GM Harry Turner is one of the best in the business. The service from the staff is always amazing. Rams Hill's range is amazing too. The grass is perfect and they have brand new Titleist ProV1 practice balls set up in perfect pyramids for the golfers to warm up with. They also have range finders on the range so you can practice and warm up properly. The course is not super difficult but can be tough if you are missing the greens in the wrong spots. The course is one of the best in California it's definitely a Top 30 course in CA in my opinion. All serious golfers that live in CA should definitely set up a tee time to play Rams Hill. It's definitely worth it and you will be really happy after the round. I guarantee it.
Rams Hills in Borrego Spring - a very remote small town in eastern San Diego county. It is about 70 miles east of the city. There are several 2-star smaller hotels there to stay as in makes a great weekend golf getaway. Note they are only open from October - April, as Borrego Springs is exceedingly hot in the summer months.
The previous reviewer's points are all absolutely correct. The course is always in amazing condition (where are they getting all the water from?). It is a classic Fazio design and very picturesque. A really good track and fun to play for all levels at Fazio gives different angles to play every hole.
I give the review an Eagle versus an Albatross only because of the remoteness / distance to get there.
Note for something different. Next time I go, I am likely going to skip the golf cart (buggy) and take advantage of the Golf Boards or the Electric Bikes as an alternative method; just for the fun of it.
I had heard the whispers of the resuscitated Rams Hill from my Southern California brethren and when I finally got a chance to see it for myself this year, I was blown away by the conditioning of the course, the scenery but most importantly the fun I was having on the course!
The only knock on Rams Hill is its location, out in the middle of nowhere in Borrego Springs California, but maybe that is what makes it special. There are very few houses on the course (unlike its Palm Springs cousins), and it provides for a very quiet round of golf, which allows you to focus on how great a Fazio design it is.
The routing goes up and down the hill with wide fairways allowing for various tee shots leading to interesting green complexes and devilish bunkers. The par 3s are long and visually intimidating while the par 5s give you risk/reward options to have you dreaming of eagle, or double bogeys. Each hole is different and enjoyable, even if you are making worms widows that day.
I have been dragging my Los Angeles golfing friends down to Rams Hill ever since I started playing it this year and if you find yourself in Southern California, it is definitely worth a jaunt out there.