Golf in Death Valley? Oh yeah, the oasis-like Furnace Creek Golf Course at the Ranch at Furnace Creek is a cool, green retreat from the surrounding, sizzling salt pans of Death Valley National Park. Thousands of date palms and batallions of lacy, decades-old tamarisk trees line the fairways, while the occasional coyote roams the banks of the lakes and the meandering stream, shopping for tasty ducks. Water from mineral springs flowing out of the Panamint Mountains comes into play on 9 holes.
Phil Dickinson calls in his order at Furnace Creek Golf Course
Part of the Furnace Creek Resort, the 6,236-yard course originally opened in 1931 as the first grass course in the California desert. Today, it remains the lowest grass course in the world at 214 feet below sea level (you’re guaranteed to play your lowest round . . . ).
In the early years, the course was closed and leased to a cattle rancher for the summer and the fairways were mowed by a flock of sheep in winter. In 1997, the track was renovated and redesigned by Perry Dye of Dye Designs, who brought it up to 21st century standards.
Furnace Creek Golf Course is a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” that provides and maintains wildlife habitat, recycles water and manages the landscape responsibly. The resort is operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a company that has received many awards for its environmental stewardship, from one of the largest solar installations in the country to sustainable cuisine. Xanterra is the first U.S. hospitality company to commit to an absolute reduction target in greenhouse gas emissions (through a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund), and the only hospitality company to actually achieve that goal.
Grabbing a burger and a beer at the 19th Hole at the Ranch at Furnace Creek
Furnace Creek Stay & Play Package (Rates are for two people, from $169 to $452 per night, depending on accommodations at the Ranch or at the 4-diamond Inn at Furnace Creek, and depending on the season)
One day of unlimited golf
Cart Rental, Club Storage
At $55.00, the peak season green fee is reasonable, and special “Sundowner” rates are also available. And, I love the little 19th Hole, an open-air bar and cafe with a drive-up golf cart ramp where you can grab a beer and lunch, and motor right on to the back nine.
When you’re in Death Valley, you’ll hear about the “Devil’s Golf Course”–that’s something else, actually a fascinating, huge salt field. 40 miles long, 12 miles wide in some places and 1,000 feet deep, a startling phenomenon caused by the evaporation of an ancient lake. The constantly evaporating salt forms strange, sharp points up to 2 feet high.
More about Furnace Creek in Death Valley.
Founder/editor of BestGolfResortsofTheWorld, Karen Misuraca is a travel and golf writer from the California Wine Country. She blogs golf travel and writes about Sustainable Travel.