The Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta, CA

Golf Courses

Pga West Stadium Course

Facts About the Stadium Course

Favorite Holes

Fittingly titled “Alcatraz”, it’s impossible not to start with the island green par-three seventeenth (168 yards). You’ve seen island greens from Pete Dye before—but our favorite component of this one is the slightly elevated tee. It improves the quality of the view of the greensite and intensifies the juxtaposition of the water’s tranquility against its implicit danger.

The double-dogleg par-five fifth hole (535 yards) is perhaps the most strategic on the golf course. The hole bends first left around one lake and then right around the next—forcing the player to choose both off the tee and on his second/third shot how much water he dares to carry. As with most holes on the course, the penalties for overconfidence are quite severe.       

The long par-three sixth hole (255 yards) is another dramatic test—presenting the player with an angled peninsula green jutting out into one of the largest lakes on the golf course. 

First Take on the Golf Course

A commonality among Pete Dye designs, some of the first things you notice about the Stadium Course are its dramatic hazards. There are few other courses where good and bad are delineated so clearly. The Stadium’s deep and massive bunkers are among the most penal found in the United States—boasting sharp faces at times of nearly 25 feet. Large lakes come into play frequently and serve as both crossing and abutting hazards. Dye is well known for the way he uses visual intimidation and the Stadium Course is certainly no exception.

This line between what defines good shots and bad shots is part of the thrill of playing the golf course. Well-executed shots are made more thrilling by the negotiation of the difficult hazards. Marginal shots provoke more than the usual amount of apprehension as the golfer knows how costly the slightest misjudgment can be. A small mistake can derail a round in a hurry and big numbers often lurk for the shot played just not quite well enough. Poorly thought out or executed shots are rarely tolerated.

Observations About the Golf Course

The Stadium Course has some of the most dramatic man-made contour of any course in the desert. Greensites are framed by large spectator mounds and the fairways frequently offer uneven lies.

Fortune favors the golfer who can carry the ball high here but alternate routes are generally presented to the golfer who needs to negotiate the course by other means. A few holes absolutely demand a sizable carry.

Final Thoughts About PGA West (Stadium)

Don’t be scared away by the taxing reputation this golf course has. To our minds, the bold feast-or-famine nature of this hostile Dye design makes playing PGA West (Stadium) an exhilarating experience.