Night golf comes to the desert

New nighttime additions at Indian Wells Golf Resort in California worth watching

Playing golf after sundown has traditionally meant two things – put lights up all over the golf course or simply play in the dark with glow balls. But what if you made some modifications to the game itself? In other words, instead of traditional golf, take parts of the game of golf, apply some different rules and new technology and put a different twist on the game.

That's the plan at Indian Wells Golf Resort in the Coachella Valley of the California Sonoran Desert. The 36-hole municipal facility is rolling out a couple of initiatives that provides some new twists to golf and extends the golf day, and they bear watching, perhaps, as models for other facilities around the country and the world as not only a way to maximize revenues, but perhaps to grow the game.

One of those initiatives involves new technology married to the resort's nine-hole putting course; the other adds a kind of Topgolf feel to the driving range. The resort hopes to be operational with the new attractions in late spring 2018.

"We have about three hours each night to make it fun," said Michael Tebbetts, director of sales and marketing for Indian Wells Golf Resort, which has two outstanding golf courses – the Celebrity and the Players. "It's all geared toward something that happens after the sun goes down."

Already, Indian Wells is unique among municipals. In the last couple of years, it has added a top-notch special events venue, geared towards weddings and charity events, and has one of the best clubhouse restaurants – The VUE – of any golf facility in the country. The latter offers everything from steak and lobster to one of the best wine and bourbon/whiskey collections in the country, hardly typical for a municipal operation.

Now, Indian Wells has brought in a company called NextLinks out of Santa Ana, Calif. Scaffolding has been installed over the putting course, housing technology that creates laser-type games that anyone can enjoy. The games, which use software written specifically for Indian Wells, will go way beyond traditional putting and include games such as H-O-R-S-E, golf darts and golf Bocce.

Developed by David Shultz, a former engineer for General Electric, NextLinks uses patent-pending Pinpoint Spotlight Technology to direct players where to play and putt out from a spot designated by a colored laser mark being on the green or in this case, the putting course.

On the resort's practice range, new inflatable lighted targets in the shape of giant bowling pins and beach balls are being installed that will explode with colors when hit, creating more fun and games for golfers after dark. The balls that golfers will use are glow balls, activated by a black light.

In addition, Indian Wells also plans to have a gourmet food truck out at night as well.

"It's really designed for golfers of all skill levels,' Tebbetts said, "Especially for those who don't play that much as they can enjoy a fun and less-intimidating experience."

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
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I played twice night golf at Selebi Phikwe golf club in Botswana, we played in dark with light golf balls, the brown were marked with light flag, it was really a funny golf day!

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They could also add FlingGolf FlingStick rentals. Most people can learn to play in about 30 minutes.

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New nighttime additions at Indian Wells Golf Resort in California worth watching