Johnny Dawson and Lawrence Hughes originally designed the golf course at Thunderbird Country Club and its tees opened for play in 1951 on the site of a former dude ranch. Historically, the club was the first to use golf carts and these were in action at Thunderbird from the early beginnings and this was also one of the first Californian desert golf courses to be constructed.
In the Rock-n-Roll 1950s, the Thunderbird Country Club attracted celebrities from all over the USA
Located in California’s Coachella Valley, the golf course at Thunderbird was the site of the first Bob Hope Classic (formerly known as the Thunderbird Invitational), but the club’s biggest claim to fame was when it hosted the 1955 Ryder Cup matches. Team USA beat Great Britain convincingly. Lord Brabazon of Tara, then president of the Professional Golfers Association of Great Britain, said in the closing speeches, “We have learned a lot, although we have lost, and we are going back to practice in the streets and on the beaches.”
Today’s golf course bears no resemblance to that of the original rock-n-roll layout. Thunderbird was completely remodelled in 1986 by Ted Robinson. However, it’s still a relatively short and pleasant desert layout, but further course expansion is restricted by attractive real estate that line most of the fairways.