Winter is the perfect time to head to the Southern California desert, and in episode 119 of the “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast, co-hosts Darin Bunch and Mitch Laurance welcome golf-travel blogger Pete Flanigan (Re-Gripped.com) to discuss a true hidden gem: Rams Hill Golf Club and its Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole course in Borrego Springs.
The site of a former 27-hole Ted Robinson design, Rams Hill features a rollercoaster history that included a failed private-club attempt and more than three years laying fallow, but under new ownership the course has emerged better than ever and offers one of the truly pristine golf experiences in California built into one of the most unique ecosystems in the United States.
Pete, Darin and Mitch recount Rams Hill’s many strengths — the Tom Fazio design, expansive views, great service, manicured conditioning, oasis-like water throughout course, reasonable pricing — and discuss why it’s worth every hour of the drive from the San Diego-Orange County-Los Angeles metropolis to make your way out to this somewhat desolate (in a good way) stretch of desert.
Mike Setchell, Rams Hill’s director of golf, summed up the seclusion quite well in a May interview during Darin’s return to the course near the end of the 2017-2018 season: “Just come and experience it, and I think it’ll speak for itself. There aren’t many golf courses anymore that are as quiet and peaceful. You get to that back nine — 10, 11, 12 — those are some of the quietest places you’ll find on a golf course anywhere … unless you’re in Montana somewhere.”
And it’s that peaceful setting (achieved despite housing built in spots around the golf course) that has both Darin and Pete vowing to return to Rams Hill year after year — as often as possible, in fact.
“At a time when we perhaps overuse the word ‘getaway,’ even in a podcast called ‘Talking GolfGetaways,’ Rams Hill really is a true getaway, a place you can go to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and just focus on great golf in a very cool setting — whether you’re playing alone, as a couple or with a group of buddies.”
The risk-reward nature of the course, combined with a great deal of fairway width and friendly green surrounds to maximize playability, appeals to golfers of all talent levels, creating a golf course that presents new challenges each time you make the loop.
“You pick your spots,” Setchell adds. “It’s risk-and-reward for sure, but it’s not always just get up and bang driver necessarily if you want to score.”
Darin, Mitch and Pete also discuss the opportunities for stay-and-play getaways — along with houses available for rent in the golf-course community, Rams Hill is also planning to build cottage-style overnight accommodations. And just down the road, the historic (and newly restored) La Casa Del Zorro resort offers a high-end yet old-school desert lodging experience.