The California property has renovated its clubhouse and replaced the pro shop with a full-service bar and grill called the Irons Club. Other improvements have included expanding services at the club’s café into a full restaurant called Bistro 60, and adding a deli and small store to allow golfers and local residents to make purchases like milk and eggs, rather than driving 20 minutes to reach full-service grocery stores.
The challenge for most golf communities in California’s Coachella Valley and across the country these days is trying to avoid being exclusively about golf, The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif. reported. As the game struggles to maintain the number of people playing the sport recreationally, clubs are looking for ways to make their facilities appealing to golfers and non-golfers alike.
Such is the case at The Golf Club at La Quinta—a former home of the Skins Game and a facility as far south as any golf course in the Coachella Valley, according to The Desert Sun’s report. Surrounded by the 55-and-over Trilogy housing community, owners of The Golf Club at La Quinta are happy with their golf course after putting what Tom Bush, partner of the ownership group at the course, says has been “a couple of million dollars” into renovating the 18-hole layout.
Keeping golfers at the course or bringing non-golfers to the facility, which is well south of where other retail centers are, is now the focus, The Desert Sun reported.
“One of the things we are doing is taking the facilities to another level,” Bush said. “There were no restaurants out here before. So we decided to change the restaurant and put a bar in, and we have a full bar now.”
It’s all part of the ownership group’s plan to create a larger community for the Golf Club at La Quinta, something that extends beyond the first tee and 18th green of the course, The Desert Sun reported. If golf isn’t enough for some golf courses, management must pursue other options.
“One of the things we do like is that we do offer something with the golf package,” said Bush, whose partnership has owned the golf course for a little more than four years. “You come out and you are going to have a nice sandwich or box lunch, or you can come back in and use your golf trip to eat in the restaurant for a certain price off.”
The layout at the Golf Club at La Quinta is familiar to desert golf fans, even if it’s familiar by a different name, The Desert Sun reported. Known in its early days as Trilogy Golf Club, the course hosted the Skins Game four times, starting in 2003. Those years were best known for two appearances by Annika Sorenstam, the only woman to play in the event, and two wins by Fred Couples, who won the Skins Game five times.
The Skins Game left the course after 2006, and over the next decade the course struggled to maintain the same conditioning of the days when it had national television exposure, The Desert Sun reported.
“When Tom [Bush] took over here, he asked me how long it would take to bring the golf course back, and I said probably three years,” said Ed Montgomery, a long-time desert pro and now a teaching pro at The Golf Club at La Quinta. “We were both wrong. It’s taken him nearly five years. There has been a lot of investment in the golf course.”
All of the latest efforts at the club, Bush said, are now geared toward providing “something for people to do after [golf].”
“You can let people just golf and leave, and a lot of the golf courses never capture that [additional after-golf business],” he explained. “A lot of people come here and they are here another two hours after they play, because they enjoy the environment, enjoy the camaraderie after they play.”
Bush and his wife Vanessa have 30 years of experience in the desert designing kitchens for restaurants, including restaurants at desert-golf facilities, The Desert Sun reported.
Non-golf changes at the Golf Club at La Quinta in recent years, The Desert Sun reported, have included renovations of the clubhouse; moving the pro shop out of its clubhouse location and replacing it with the Irons Club, a full-service bar and grill;, expanding services at the café into a full restaurant called Bistro 60, and the long-planned addition of a deli and small store, to allow golfers and local residents to make purchases like milk and eggs, rather than driving 20 minutes to reach full-service grocery stores.
The changes, the investment in the golf course and the concern about the players—the course has 240 members who take up about 70 percent of the play—is about trying to avoid the issues other courses in the desert and across the country have faced, The Desert Sun reported.
“We’re researching golf courses [and] why they close,” Bush said. “It’s when you don’t have the community supporting it. Once we had to get the community to understand that, hey, this is valuable to us, this will affect our real estate, then it was something that the community could identify with and want to support.”