Must play, must stay: Four resorts in the Palm Springs, California area offer jam-packed golf trips

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- For desert guests: Prepping for a Coachella Valley golf getaway is akin to an American historian taking a trip to Philadelphia, a foodie traveling to New York or a gambler rolling into Las Vegas.

Palm Springs is the proverbial kid in a confectionery for golfers, and the options for diverse play are limitless.

As are the choices for accommodation to complement your rounds.

Here are four top options for area resorts with exceptional "play and stay" facilities that are certain to ensure your travel meets high expectations.

Indian Wells Golf Resort

The 36-holes on at Indian Wells Golf Resort sparkled upon the Golf Channel's "Big Break Indian Wells" in the spring and summer of 2011.

Start with the inviting water and flower features of the Clive Clark-drawn Celebrity Course before taking on the tougher, bunker-heavy round of John Fought's Players Course the next day. The driven will want to check out the on-site Callaway Performance Center or study at the Bird Golf Academy while the casual player will enjoy the nine-hole, natural-grass putting course.

The clubhouse is brilliant and well matched in stature by the dining at the IW Club. After dinner or a drink on the patio, turn in at one of four hotel options that adjoin the resort. Groups or parties will want to look into the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, while a more intimate stay may be found at the Hyatt Grand Champions.

For a top spa treatment, book at the Miramonte. At the Indian Wells Resort Hotel, reserve a seat for Frank DiSalvo's Thursday through Saturday croonings in the aptly named "Frank's Place" lobby lounge.

La Quinta Resort & Spa and PGA West

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Match desert history with new memories at La Quinta Resort. Opened in 1926, this is the desert's longest-running resort property, and the 45-acres host an impressive array of amenity for all styles of getaway.

From celebrated spa treatments (for both humans and their pets) to 23 tennis courts (both hard and clay) to one of the region's top dining choices at Morgan's in the Desert -- the resort nears its 90th anniversary with award-winning aplomb.

Oh, and there's some golf to be played here as well. Known as "The Western Home of Golf in America," a luminary cast of designers combine for nine courses (five public) that count among the most unique and inspired in the Valley.

For a three-day stay, start with Pete Dye's Mountain Course, which weaves a magical back nine that takes you through the Santa Rosa Mountains. Warmed-up and properly mellowed, move over to the Greg Norman Course at PGA West, which combines a dearth of both homes (fewer than 200) and turf (less than 70 acres) with the lining of Decomposed Granite to sport a round meshed with outback solitude and a shark's teeth. To wrap up the vacation, test the skills at Dye's TPC Stadium Course, where water, slick greens and ample undulation make for one of the toughest courses in all of California.

Marriott's Shadow Ridge

One of the Valley's most thorough golf experiences combines Nick Faldo's first American course design with an instructional institute bearing his name (just one of two in the country) and an on-site Master Clubfitter's Workshop.

Year-round promotions place additional shine on Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club. A free round is presented with a lesson, and huge discounts on lodgings are offered for those studying their swing at either the two- or three-day golf schools (offering four hours of personalized instruction per day). A cost breakdown for both options on the getaway scorecard finds savings of nearly 30 percent for your multi-day lesson combined with lodgings in a one-bedroom villa.

When booking, be sure to inquire about rooms along the three finishing holes, where friends and family of students have a stadium view of how those lessons apply to the playing grounds.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

Few locations in the region can offer the all-encompassing experience of Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Start the day soaring with a round at Eagle Falls Golf Course, the desert's newest, 18-hole championship course that serves as host to both the annual Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitation and the Playboy Golf Scramble.

The Clive Clark design combines pleasing solitude with renowned conditions and challenging elevation changes to count this among the top-10 public facilities in the Coachella Valley.

Post round, segue to the cache of gaming and entertainment options that encircle the casino floor. The Special Events Center brings in some of the desert's best bookings, while the outdoor Rock Yard offers a free, regular series of tribute acts on Saturday nights. Dining choices abound for all styles of party, and a family-driven trip will no doubt roll to the bowling fun at Fantasy Lanes.

Judd Spicer is an award-winning, veteran freelance writer hailing from St. Paul, Minn. After 12 years of covering MLB, NBA, NCAA and the active golf landscape of the Twin Cities, he relocated to the Palm Spring, Calif. region to further pursue his golf work and Champions Tour dream. Sporting measured distance off the tee, Spicer refers to his pitching wedge as his "magic wand." Follow Judd on Twitter at @juddspicer.
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Must play, must stay: Four resorts in the Palm Springs, California area offer jam-packed golf trips