How you can play the world-famous Stadium course at PGA West in Palm Springs

PGA West

The PGA West Palm Springs golf resort offers five courses open to all visitors booked into the resort with a further four courses available to private members.

The designers of the courses at the resort in the Coachella Valley read as a veritable who’s who of golf design with work from Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tom Weiskopf and Pete Dye featured against the stunning backdrop of the valley.

All resort guests can access courses designed by Dye, Norman and Nicklaus, while Weiskopf and Palmer only worked on private courses at the resort. Dye also designed the private Citrus course, while Nicklaus laid out both the general access Tournament course and another exclusive private course.

The Stadium Course is designed to be an advertisement for the PGA WEST resort, and with Golf Digest counting them as one of “America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses” for 2023-2024 it seems it is doing that job very well.

A word of warning, though, is that the course is also one that often features on toughest course lists – at 7,300 yards, the Stadium Course has the highest stroke (76.1) and slope (150) ratings of all the courses at PGA West.

On top of serving as the venue for the Desert Classic (known as the American Express for sponsorship reasons) the PGA West Stadium Course is also the host for the PGA TOUR “Q-School” Finals every other year.

Players taking on the Stadium layout must navigate the island green of hole 17, known as Alcatraz, as well as the menacing water-lined 18th to bring an end to their golfing journey on a typical round at the famous course.

It wouldn’t be unusual for golfers with a ruined scorecard to lift themselves to play those final two, perhaps setting themselves the goal of making a par-par finish for that feeling of the finish of the Desert Classic or PGA TOUR Q-school.

Pet Dye often repeated the maxim: “Golf is not a fair game, so why build a course fair?” That should tell you plenty about the kind of challenge you could end up facing if you book a stay at the Palm Springs resort and a round on ‘Stadium’.

The Stadium Course has Green Fees rates that are competitive in comparison to similar experiences at comparable resorts that stage stops on the PGA Tour.

There are currently some enticing online deals and for those in the area the course is open through Christmas and New Year and the Stadium course will only close to the public for a very short period before The American Express in the third week of January 2024. As things stand you could secure a round at the Stadium course for as little as $70.

The Desert Classic alternates between the PGA West Stadium course and the Nicklaus Tournament Course as well as the nearby La Quinta Country Club.