Marriott's Shadow Ridge Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.0

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 71
Palm Desert, CA
· Stay & Play

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Marriott's Shadow Ridge Review

Review and Rating of Marriott's Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert California

Six-time major champion Nick Faldo designed a fantastic 18 holes of golf at the Marriott Shadow Ridge Vacation Club.  Shadow Ridge was Nick's first US design and it draws some of it's inspiration from the great sand-belt courses of Australia, most noteably Kingston Heath and Royal MelboureFaldo states that "I sought to design a course that not only tests a player's skill but also him imagination and character.  I wanted to take resort golf to another level."  He certainly accomplished that goal!  Some of what makes Shadow Ridge well worth playing from our perspective includes:

  • the conditions are near perfect from the tee box to the greens
  • the scenery is beautiful with the snow-capped Santa Rosa Mountains acting as a backdrop for several holes
  • the layout is fair for all skill levels but the greens and bunkers are challenging
  • there are some really fun and interesting holes

Marriott's Shadow Ridge is characterized by wide sweeping fairways, extensive bunkering, and challenging green complexes.  In fact, the course puts a premium on the approach shots to raised greens that are guarded by some steep and deep bunkers.  Miss the putting surface or hit a steep slope on the green and your ball will invariably roll into a tightly mown collection area or into a greenside bunker.  Once you're on the green, two and three putts can be common thanks to the slope, tiers, and contour of the greens. 

Some of the holes that we really liked included:

  • #2 is a 609 yard par 5 with a huge natural sand/waste area on the left front of the tee boxes, a left and right side bunker in the landing zone, a dog left past a bunker on lake, and green guarded by 5 bunkers - plus the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop
  • #13 is a fun 345 yard par 4 that turns left around a huge multi-fingered bunker and past 4 fairway bunkers on a roller coaster fairway leading a green tucked behind a tall hill and guarded by 4 bunkers
  • #16 is a 541 yard par 5 that has a natural sand area along most of the left side, a bunker splitting the fairway in the middle of your landing zone, a lake along most of the right side and around in back of the green, and a green sitting on a skinny peninsula that juts into the lake
  • #18 is a great finishing hole with a cascading creek that cuts in front of the green, goes across the fairway, and down the left side and then back across the fairway in front of the tee box

Shadow Ridge is meticulously  maintained and manicured and in near perfect condition from the tee boxes to the greens.  The fairways are lush and plush, generous off the tee box, and have plenty of slope and contour.  All but a few a homeless (some on the back place through the Marriott's vacation villas) and lined by trees, native brush, or natural sand.  The rough was cut thin and playable.

The greens at Shadow Ridge define the course - they are pushed up, well guarded by some nasty bunkers, and have some combination of slope, undulation, tiers, and ridges.  They are soft, hold the ball well, and run true (if you can read some of the subtle breaks) and at a good speed of around 10.   Most are good sized and they range from 24 to 40 in depth.

The bunkers are strategically placed in the fairways and around the greens.  Most are huge, multi-fingered, and steep faced.  The good news is the sand is light and fluffy and a joy to hit out of.  You'll also encounter lots of natural sand areas. 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Blue 6,621 71.5 130
White 6,204 69.2 125
Gold 7,006 73.7 135
Red 5,158 70.8 128

Course Information

Course Architect:
Nick Faldo
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Course Map
Beware of water on 7 holes and the 97 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

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


Approximate Weekend
$99.00 to $129.00

The clubhouse is very upscale with a full sevice restaurant, mens lockrooms, fitness center, and well stocked pro shop. The service is very good and the practice facilities are excellent.



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.