Fall isn't always the best time to flock to desert golf destinations where the courses overseed

Snowbirds probably shouldn't take flight just yet to warm-weather winter destinations in the desert.

Golfer Scott Borgen reached out to Golf Advisor by e-mail, asking if he should plan a golf trip next fall to California's Coachella Valley.

He wrote: "I am planning a golf (trip) to Palm Springs next October and right now I see overseeding and golf courses that are closed down for the month. Will October be a good time for a golf trip?"

Our advice? Wait until December or be prepared to battle inconsistent conditions, cart-path-only rounds and course closures.

Golf destinations in the desert -- like Scottsdale, Ariz., and Palm Springs/La Quinta/Palm Desert, etc. -- typically overseed in early fall, closing anywhere from two weeks to two months. All these courses are gearing up for their high season, which generally runs from January through April.

For those who aren't familiar with the practice, overseeding is typically done on courses with Bermuda grass, which goes dormant in winter. The top layer is scalped off and seeded with ryegrass, which grows in, allowing the course to keep its fairways, tees and greens looking nice and green for sun-starved Northerners. The rough, however, goes dormant giving the course a brown-on-green appearance.

Charlie Swanger, a tour operator at the US Golf Desk, which runs the Web site www.golfpalmspringsgolf.com, estimates that two-thirds of the golf courses in the Coachella Valley close at some point in October. He added that "November isn't much better."

That still doesn't discourage golfers from visiting in the fall, however.

"October is a great month weather-wise so we do have quite a bit of clients that want to visit," Swanger wrote by e-mail. "Since there are so many courses in the area, and many facilities have two courses on site, there are still plenty of options available to play good golf. However, because of supply and demand, the golf rates tend to go up October first. The staff knows there is less competition because of the overseed closures so great courses demand a premium."

Swanger keeps an updated course closure list here.

For example, 36-hole Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert alternates which of its two courses is closed for overseeding. This year, the Firecliff Course will reopen Oct. 31 after closing Sept. 24. Desert Willow's Mountain View Course will close Nov. 12 and be ready for play Dec. 25.

Closer to SoCal in remote Borrego Springs, Rams Hill Golf Club, a stunning semiprivate Tom Fazio design, will be closed to outside play until Nov. 3. Mike Setchell, the club's director of golf, indicated the maintenance team scalped the fairways, turned the water off and started overseeding at the end of September.

Swanger tries to steer clients toward booking fall trips in September to avoid overseeding issues.

"We try to accommodate all of the clients' requests, but after a bit of research, some clients simply choose a different date on their own," he wrote. "We tend to receive golf vacation requests a few months prior to the anticipated arrival date so I let the golfer know that September is better than October because all of the courses are still open, the summer rates are the lowest of the year and September typically isn't too hot.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Commented on

A group 0f 12 golfers from Arizona (Seville Golf and Country Club) come to Palm Springs every year during our course overseed to play for 5 days in what we affectionately refer to as the "Overseed Open." It would aid our planning if we had the fall overseed schedule for all courses (public and private) in the Palm Springs area. The Arizona Golf Association publishes such a schedule for the entire state--usually comes out in early September. Where can I find the overseed schedule for the Palm Springs area?

Bob (Chief Planner)

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Fall isn't always the best time to flock to desert golf destinations where the courses overseed