By Tod Leonard
There isn’t one stoplight in Borrego Springs. No Starbucks or McDonald’s or Vons either. In the phone book, only the last four digits of every phone number are listed because there’s only one prefix — 767. One of the running jokes around town is that when the Borrego Sun newspaper is published every two weeks, everyone’s already heard the news just by standing and gabbing in front of the post office.
No more than 5,000 people inhabit Borrego in the winter, and less than half stay for the scorching summer. Imagine what Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley looked like about 80 years ago, before Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore arrived, and you can picture what Borrego Springs is like today. Only an hour south of Indio and 90 minutes east of San Diego’s Inland North County, Borrego is the Southern California town that time forgot.
Surrounded by Anza-Borrego State Park, blessed with dramatic mountain landscapes that arguably surpass those of Palm Springs, and home to some of the best stargazing night skies in America, Borrego possesses incredible natural beauty and tranquility. And for those looking for a new and authentic experience, the area also boasts three wonderfully different golf facilities that are well worth the trip.
"It's an amazing place, and the beauty of this area is that it will never get any bigger than it is," said John Yzaguirre, general manager of the 12-year-old Borrego Springs Resort. The resort offers 100 hotel rooms — renovated within the last year — and 27 holes of golf designed by San Diegan Cary Bickler, who also fashioned Encinitas Ranch and Salt Creek in the San Diego area.
The original 18 holes, which combine for a full length of 6,600 yards, are classic desert fare, featuring ample fairway landing areas and gently undulating greens accentuated with tall palm trees. In 2002, Bickler added a third nine, The Palms, which stretches to 3,571 yards from the tips and is much more demanding in its length and bunkering.
"Not to brag," Bickler said, "but I’ve gotten more compliments on that course than I can count."
According to Rick Sprouse, the resort’s director of golf, business has been steady in the last year, in large part because of the resort’s attractive pricing: $55 on weekdays and $65 on Saturdays. Weekend hotel packages with golf and room start at $116 per person per night for double occupancy and $182 per night for singles. Visit www.borregospringsresort.com for reservations.
But that’s not all Borrego has to offer golf enthusiasts. Just a few minutes from Borrego Springs Resort lies the Montesoro Golf & Social Club, which may be one of the bestkept golf secrets in Southern California. Formerly Rams Hill Country Club, Montesoro was redesigned in 2007 by architect Tom Fazio as part of a $22 million project, and Golf Digest named it the fifth-best redesign in the country for that year.
Montesoro’s layout is nothing short of breathtaking, with its desert-like views and pine-studded parkland feel. Deane Beman, former commissioner of the PGA Tour, has called Montesoro the best desert course he’s played.
The club is private with just 57 members, as is deAnza Country Club, which rebounded from devastating flooding a few years ago but is now considered one of the finest layouts in the area.
The fourth golf option in the Borrego Springs area is a little nine-hole gem at The Springs of Borrego RV Resort. Sound dinky? It’s not. The six-year-old course is a full-length nine, measuring 3,084 yards, and it is in pristine condition. Green fees range from $20 to $50 for 18 holes (visit www.springsatborrego.com), and it is well worth including as part of any trip to the Borrego area.
--From FORE Magazine, January/February 2010 issue