111. Stone Eagle Golf Club
Tom Doak (2005)
Stone Eagle is the most remarkable course in the golf-heavy Palm Springs market. It sits atop a rocky plateau, a thousand feet above the Coachella Valley but still thousands of feet below the peaks of the adjacent Santa Rosa Mountains. When Tom Doak first walked the site, he said, “I thought this must be what the surface of Mars looks like: rocky, rugged and red.” Given the luxury of routing an 18 without any homesites, Doak did his lay-of-the-land best to create a faux links high above the desert floor by tucking fairways into creases of the land and positioning shots to play over low ridges into bold greens that mimic the rugged topography. At Stone Eagle, Doak used hillsides of rocks and boulders the way Old Country architects used sand dunes. The only difference: sand is soft, rock is not.
Second 100 Greatest History: Ranked on Second 100 Greatest: 2013 through 2016. Highest ranking: No. 111, current. Previous ranking: Not ranked
A Tom Doak masterpiece. The imagination to route a course through the desert and through the mountains are a testament to Doak’s creativity. Alister MacKenzie-style bunkers flow right into and out of the rock formations that Doak uses to separate holes. If golf courses are paintings, this would be a fine work of art. Visually, the colors of the desert merge wonderfully with the golf course colors. One of the best, if not the best, desert courses I’ve ever played.
The most striking thing about Stone Eagle is how visually intimidating it is off the tee with what appears are narrow landing areas due to rock outcroppings—yet once you get to the fairway the landing areas are very generous. One might think from the sight lines that this is a driving course, but this is really a second shot course. You need to be precise with your approaches as the greens have massive undulations that could make two-putting very difficult.
Works its way primarily up and down the mountainous terrain giving tremendous elevated tee shots on the downhill holes and slightly obscured tee shots and semi-blind approach shots into the greens on uphill holes. There are almost no level lies in the fairways that are sloped and very undulating with humps and hollows.
There is visual deception everywhere and depth perception is difficult in the expanse of desert (slopes of greens are difficult to tell because of the slope off the mountain). This course challenges every part of your game: distance, accuracy and finesse. Rarely do you aim at a flag and just hit a shot; you're always thinking about where stuff is feeding to the hole, even from hundreds of yards away.
One of the most memorable courses that I've played. Very secluded and can see the entire southern Coachella Valley. Rocks, sand, mountain ranges, ravines, wide fairways and elevated tee boxes all tie the course together. The views are unsurpassed, it seems you can see forever.