There’s something about exclusive golf courses that can’t help but intrigue you. It probably stems from our human urge to do what we’re told not to and go where we’re not supposed to. When the opportunity presented itself for my father-in-law, Gary, and I to play at The Vintage Club, these primal urges got their backs scratched a bit.
The Vintage Club is a private golf club located in Palm Desert, California and one of the toughest tee times to get in the desert. Vintage features two 18-hole golf courses both designed by Tom Fazio — the Mountain Course and the Desert Course. We played the scenic Mountain Course.
Upon arrival at the unmarked entrance, we provided our full names to the security guards. After a few minutes of checking the computer and a call to the pro shop, they gave us the nod to proceed — we were in!
The scenic drive to the clubhouse is stunning and almost humbling in a way. The clubhouse itself was no slouch either.
As we pulled in to drop off our clubs and changed our shoes behind the car like typical riffraff, the staff welcomed us as if we were valued members. The staff were generally young, outgoing, and wanted to chat and find out how we were doing and where we were from. If any part of me felt intimidated or unwelcome prior to arrival, that melted away immediately.
We were keen to get after it so we headed straight to their beautiful driving range where we were greeted by more tremendous staff who chatted us up and did their best to get to know us. We also met our caddy, Adam, who was going to help us navigate the challenging layout.
The Mountain Course, as the name suggests, has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and plays directly adjacent to them on several holes. The layout is generally flat in terms of significant elevation changes but features plenty of contours and undulations.
The course provides sufficiently wide fairways to make it fun and playable, but strategic bunkering, lakes, and streams throughout the course provide plenty to punish you if you’re not on your game.
Although there are a few trees on the course, it doesn’t feel like a “treed” course — they’re all well kept such that the trees never made for an unfair challenge or robbed you of the opportunity to play a creative recovery shot.
The par 3’s are all camera worthy and a few of them have forced carries over water — an exhilarating challenge for a good player and a frightening sight for the high handicap.
Although the course always provides sufficient room to find safety from the tee, it never lets you off the hook visually. The par-4 12th hole pictured below is a good example, where the creek down the left naturally urges you off to the right, but play too far right and you’ll find the fairway bunkers.
Not only were the greens in immaculate shape, but the green complexes were interesting and challenging to read.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, the Mountain Course is located in the desert but is not a typical desert course — it has more of an oasis feel to it.
The last par-3 requires another carry over water, but it’s merely a wedge or a short iron for most players. The combo of this short par-3 and the very reachable par-5 18th hole makes for some fun scoring opportunities to finish your round.
By the time we were on the 18th green, not even a lipped out eagle putt could wipe the smile off of Gary’s face. It was a tremendous round at a special place. He got the best of me on the scorecard but nothing could spoil my day in a setting like The Vintage Club.
It goes without saying that The Vintage Club goes the extra mile and is a premiere private club experience. From the ridiculously friendly and organized staff, the beautiful clubhouse, their caddy program, and two solid golf courses, it’s a fantasy land for most of us.
It’s no surprise that it’s the club of choice for the likes of Jason Day and Justin Rose to get some practice in when the PGA Tour is on the West Coast Swing. Unfortunately we didn’t run into any big shots, but being there makes you feel like one yourself, at least for the day.
If you’re ever fortunate enough to be invited to The Vintage Club for a round, I highly recommend you drop what you’re doing and grab your clubs.