Indian Wells Golf Resort - Celebrity Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.6

Golf - Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 72
Indian Wells, CA

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Indian Wells Golf Resort - Celebrity Course Review

Indian Wells Golf Resort is home to  the LG Skins Game in 2007 and 2008, a Callaway Performance Center, a very impressive and upscale 53,000 square foot clubhouse (the IW Club), and two equally impressive 18 hole championship golf courses - the Players and Celebrity Courses. 

Each course has it's own unique personality and characteristics and both are a real pleasure to play. 

  • Celebrity Course - at 300 yards shorter from the two back tee boxes and a little longer from the forward tees than the Players Course, Celebrity is considered a tad easier, more scenic, and much tighter than the Players Course - Celebrity requires target or placement golf to score well
  • Players Course - this 18 is a more traditional and straightforward tournament and desert golf style course with some demanding holes with challenging green complexes and extensive bunkering

Common to both courses are upscale amenities, excellent conditions, and first class service from the bag boys to the pro shop to the starters, marshals, and cart ladies. 

The Celebrity 18 is clearly one of the best courses that we have played - scenic, perfect conditions, fair but challenging, and every hole is unique and memorable.  Courses like Celebrity is what keeps me playing this expensive and frustrating game.  What a fantastic and memorable experience. 

Indian Wells' Celebrity Course has to be one of the most scenic courses in the United States.  Most holes offer breathtaking views of two different mountain ranges and at times it seems like your golf ball is going to land smack dab on the top of a rugged mountain top.  Every hole is meticulously landscaped with natural desert fauna, towering palm trees, and a wide variety of different colored plants.  And then there are the cascading waterfalls on several holes, crystal clear sparkling ponds, and meandering creeks. Couple all of that with the natural sand areas, lush green contoured fairways, and lots of white sand bunkers and it just doesn't get much better. 

With the majestic mountains, colorful flowers, plush conditions, swaying palm trees, chirping birds, and cascading waterfalls, we felt like we were in Hawaii - the only thing missing was a mai tai, waves breaking nearby, and some hula girls dancing to Don Ho songs.  At times I wanted to plop myself in a lawn chair, grab a drink, soak up rays, and enjoy the view. 

But you'll quickly realize that you can't let all that eye candy distract you - the Celebrity 18 is no walk in the park.  Each hole will throw something at you and during your round you'll need to manage:  narrow twisting and turning roller coaster fairways, risk reward opportunities, mounding and swales, huge treacherous steep and deep bunkers, ponds and creeks, blind shots as well as uphill and downhill shots, and complex well protected greens with plenty of slope, contour, and undulation.  But if you play smart, leverage the mounding and contour, and plan your strategy for each shot with the help of the GPS you can turn in a good score.  Local knowledge or remembering your previous round here will also shave some strokes off your score.  And don't be too macho and bite off more than you can handle - pick one of the five tee boxes that fits your game and on some holes keep the big dog in the bag.   

I don't know if it's good news or bad news, but unique to this par 72 layout is that there is only one par 5 and one par 3 per nine - and all four are real beauties!  The Celebrity Course at Indian Wells has a number of fun, unique, challenging, and interesting holes, for example:  #14 is the signature hole for both courses and it is stunning - a 519 yard par 5 that from an elevated tee box you'll see a lake on the right front of the forward tee box, a variety of colorful flowers plus palms and trees,  7 strategically placed bunkers that choke the fairway and guard the approach, plus a beautiful cascading waterfall on the right side of the green that creates a pond and a twisting and turning stream that crosses the fairway - all of this with the towering and rugged Mt Eisenhower forming the backdrop for the green. 

In fact, the back nine is beautiful with several cascading water falls, crystal clear sparkling ponds, lots of colorful flowers, and stunning mountain vistas.  This nine alone is worth the price of the green fees.

The fairways were in near perfect condition and at times looked like velvet - which coupled with the slope gave you some extra roll you'll need to manage.  The majority of Celebrity's fairways are heavily contoured and lined with mounds, palms, and perfectly manicured natural areas or colorful flowers.  On most holes the fairways are a little tight, but the good news is that the mounding and slope will help the ball roll back toward the middle of the fairway.  Land in the colorful flower beds or in the marked Indian burial grounds you get a free drop -plaques at some of the burial sites will give you some history of the area.

The greens are all shapes and sizes and the majority of them are on the large size.  Most are slightly elevated and well guarded by some treacherous bunkers.  It seemed like a lot of the mounding around the greens will toss the ball toward the green and you should try to leverage that slope on some holes.  You'll find putting to be a challenge thanks to plenty of slope, undulation, ridges, subtle breaks, and tiers - study the greens carefully.   They were in excellent condition and running true and at a very good speed of around a 10 to 11 when we played.

The bunkers are strategically placed, most are steep faced and deep, and all have soft fluffy white sand.  All of the bunkers were in pristine condition.  I know, I took a lot of sand home with me. 

The bad news is that Celebrity gets a lot of play and the pace of play can be a little slow - but you're in a resort town on a resort course and on vacation so take it easy, relax, slow down, and enjoy the scenery.

Bottom line, if you like courses that are aesthetically pleasing, fun, unique, and challenging, then you need to add Indian Wells' Celebrity Course to your bucket list and go way out of your way to play this course. 

If you're looking for a place to stay, within a five wood of  the pro shop, there are four full service hotel properties - the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort Villas & Spa, Indian Wells Resort Hotel, Miramonte Resort & Spa and Renaissance Esmeralda resort & Spa.  

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 7,050 74.2 138
Blue 6,339 71.0 127
White 6,029 69.9 124
Gold 6,632 72.5 132
Red 5,316 71.7 128

Course Information

Course Architect:
Clive Clark
Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Beware of water on 10 holes and the 104 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.6 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$40.00 to $165.00

Service is outstanding, the pro shop is award winning and well stocked, the practice facilities are excellent, and the clubhouse is upscale. First class all the way.



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.