Situated in the scenic Coachella Valley, within a large Marriott Resort, the spectacular 18-hole layout at Shadow Ridge Golf Club was Nick Faldo’s first American course to open for play (fashioned in conjunction with Schmidt-Curley Golf Design) when it debuted at the start of the new millennium.
Although the fairways weave their way through quite a substantial residential development that lies between Frank Sinatra Drive to the south and Gerald Ford Drive to the north, there’s never a feeling of playing in overly cramped or constricted surroundings at Shadow Ridge.
Highlight holes include the 609-yard 2nd, the longest of the three par fives on the course, along with the 371-yard 8th, featuring a strategic split fairway. On the back nine, the par four 11th favours an approach from the right side of the fairway, whilst the par three 17th with its water-protected green is a potential card wrecker.
There's plenty of golf to fill one's time when visiting the Coachella Valley and to be candid much of it is simply forgettable. The private side, for those with access, can be quite fun, however, on the public side the pickings are fairly limited.
Shadow Ridge is well worth the visit. Although Nick Faldo's name is prominently mentioned it's his association with Schmidt & Curley that really pulls things together.
Shadow Ridge has numerous bunkers throughout the design. They are artfully created and a number of the pose serious strategic calculations when playing.
The layout is done quite well. Plenty of movement in the routing and the diversity of the holes clearly goes beyond the pedestrian level. The greens are also well-positioned and well-defended. If you want to score your approach play must be precise.
Often times stand alone resort courses usually feature the "boring" label simply because of the need to push as many people as possible through the experience. Shadow Ridge is not "dumb down" golf by any means. The split fairway 8th is especially done well. Being in the right position off the tee is an essential element to assure the best angle into the greens.
The downside is that the inward half of the course is within easy eye range of various housing additions. Much of it is more of a visual annoyance than one that impacts your golf experience.
Nonetheless, the architecture is clearly engaging. The final three holes also conclude the round in fine style with the closing par-4 18th providing one of the most challenging approach shots in the area with a superbly angled green and protecting water hazard.
Is Shadow Ridge a "must" play in the Coachella Valley? No – but it's far than your run-of-the-mill resort course and the level of design detail has been provided with a desire for high caliber shotmaking to be executed on a number of holes there.
M. James Ward
This was only the 2nd course I had played in the USA and it was the 1st one I had played which fits the resort course status i.e. surrounded by and playing through residential property developments. Having been used to UK courses where you generally play in isolation away from housing this was something of an eye opener.
But I loved it. Being a resort type course, I always find them more playable and therefore fun to play when on holiday.
The backdrop of the mountains and the fast undulating greens made this a very enjoyable course to play. There a few standout holes.
Nick Faldo's 1st course in the USA and it did not disappoint at all.
Shadow Ridge is one of the best conditioned and fun courses in all of Palm Springs. While it is a resort course, you do not feel hemmed in by houses or the Marriott property and the routing of the holes allows for a variety of different shots leading to a fun day.
Most public Palm Springs courses end up leaving you a bit disappointed, whether due to the pace of play, the desert feel being obliterated by housing track after housing track or a host of other factors.
Shadow Ridge offers none of these downsides and should definitely be on your list next time you are looking for a round.