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Channing Benjamin

Luxe. Leisurely.

L E G E N D A R Y. At Tradition Golf Club, members enjoy a unique lifestyle of understated elegance and first-rate amenities imbued with centuries-old history and charm. BY MIRANDA CAUDELL

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At the base of the San Rosa Mountains and once a hunting ground for the Cahuilla Indians, lies a lush landscape, emerald green fairways, swaying palms, and sparkling lakes.

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The King himself, Arnold Palmer chose Tradition Golf Club as his only West Coast home.

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Channing Benjamin

n the Coachella Valley, where a wave of hip, new resorts and boutique hotel properties has swept through many of the desert cities, history can sometimes seem hard to come by. Of course, there’s the midcentury modern architecture still lingering from Palm Springs’ past, not to mention glimmers of bygone Hollywood glamour and dozens of golf courses that have hosted some of the most iconic moments in the game. But when it comes to the kinds of stories that almost become myth — the ones that make us lean in a little closer and hang on every word — you’ll have to follow Washington Street in La Quinta all the way to an unmarked gate at the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains, where Tradition Golf Club lies tucked away in its own capsule of beauty, elegance, and time. The club’s very name implies a respect for custom and what has come before, but until you drive through the front bougainvilleabrimmed archway, you can’t fully grasp just how legendary (and luxurious) this place really is. What was once hunting grounds for the Cahuilla Indians and later a homesteading ranch surrounded by citrus trees and wide-open space now rivals any private golf club in the country: lush landscaping, emerald green fairways, swaying palms, and sparkling lakes. One instantly thinks of an expansive Mediterranean or Santa Barbara estate. And the carpet of 10,000 pink and purple blooms blanketing the grounds? They’re one of many “traditions” the club cherishes, instituted by none other than the King himself, Arnold Palmer, who planted the flowers for his first wife, Winnie, when she complained that he was building yet another desert course. “This was Palmer’s only West Coast home,” says Membership Director Tesha Vann, who has made the anecdote a part of her perspective member tour. “He loved it so much he chose to live here. Arnold Palmer planted the flowers to appeal to his first wife, Winnie, who has since passed away, and who loved flora more than golf.”

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Left: The newly renovated Ladies Lounge. Above right: The Terrace which overlooks the historic Hacienda Courtyard. Below right: Bocce ball courts offer a unique space to socialize and participate in the bocce league.

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Terrace: Chris Miller/imagineimagery.com; Booce: Couldbetheday

It’s not the only story you’ll encounter behind these walls, which once harbored the likes of Rudolph Valentino, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Clark Gable, and Greta Garbo. The main ranch house, known as the Hacienda and instantly recognizable by its white-wash walls and red tile roof, was built in 1920 by the area’s first settler, John Marshall, who homesteaded the land until selling the estate almost two decades later to William and Elizabeth Rosecrans. The couple ushered in a new, star-studded era for the Hacienda, reportedly hosting such notable guests as Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy, all the while contributing

their own chapters to the property’s varied history; no member can pass through the lawn without glancing over at the former kitchen and thinking of Mrs. Rosecrans and her little gray cat. “Mrs. Rosecrans was coming out of her kitchen when her cat alerted her to a rattlesnake that was about to strike just outside the doorway,” Vann recounts. “As a result of the cat’s warning, they both avoided the strike, and they named the house the Hacienda del Gato.” Today, the historic abode provides the perfect, intimate setting for various member events, whether it’s a business meeting in the Kennedy Room (an original en suite that has been outfitted with a board room-style table and chairs) or a dinner party in the Eisenhower Cottage, whose doors open up to a quaint courtyard dressed in the property’s original stone and potato vines. “There’s just a magic behind the gates with its rich history. We try to not only respect the history but also continue to take

Chris Miller/imagineimagery.com

A JOURNEY BACK IN TIME

the club forward,” says CEO and General Manager Justin Williams. “I really see Tradition continuing its legacy of our rich history while also being able to update the member experience by reimagining these important historic spaces to elevate our social offerings.” The Hacienda’s bocce ball courts, for instance, offer members a unique space to socialize and participate in a little friendly competition where former celebrity guests once gathered around the pool. Over 160 members even participate in a bocce league — team names, uniforms, and all. “Our members have really enjoyed our bocce program, and it’s been such a great member connector,” Vann says, describing how important it has been for the club to expand their amenities to offer members even more social enrichment opportunities.

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A STEP BACK TO THE FUTURE And that’s their goal at Tradition Golf Club: to master the art of blending the land’s colorful past with an ever-evolving membership and present. “We started as a true golf club more than 20 years ago with very limited food and beverage offerings,” Vann explains. “Over time, the membership asked for more amenities. As a result, we added a Fitness Center and Spa and bocce ball as well as more social programming and first-class dining options.” As expected, Tradition touts an incredible golf program, with an 18-hole course as well as a walkable 9-hole course and practice range (complete with pearly white Augusta sands). The seventeenth hole, situated at the top of a steep stone staircase that hugs the mountainside, is an experience in and of itself, featuring panoramic views of the entire cove below,

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and perhaps the best case for Golf Digest Magazine naming Tradition “the prettiest golf course in Palm Springs”. Hole 17 is also where you’ll find Palmer’s “hidden” tee just a short hike up the hill, one of a handful of course secrets even regular players may not know about. However, golf isn’t the only game here. Thanks to the Fitness Center and Spa, members can enjoy other wellness pursuits, as well. In addition to strength equipment, top-of-the-line cardio machines and a Pilates space, the center offers spa treatment rooms and group fitness classes (“all of which will be moved outside this year on the front porch and back patio,” says Director of Spa & Fitness Melissa Glazier). “Whether you’re a golfer or not, we can make you stronger,” she says. “Our team of fitness professionals on campus offer one-on-one personal training, and we can also do private classes for people. For example, we’ve had members come with a bunch of girlfriends and want a private yoga class outside. We love making our members and guests feel special.” The team here goes above and beyond to do exactly that —

All Chris Miller/imagineimagery.com; Golf: Couldbetheday

Clock wise from left: The Tavern where you can enjoy a craft cocktail and light bites. Enjoy the beautiful views and amenities at the clubhouse lobby. Hole 17 where you’ll find Palmer’s “hidden” tee. Enjoy the Fitness Center and Spa, for private training or a spa treatment.

make members feel like Tradition is truly their home — and you experience that overarching sense of community not only in your interactions with staff but also in the main clubhouse, which, like the rest of the grounds, embodies traditions both old and new. As part of a recent $7 million renovation, the clubhouse’s original pro shop and cart staging area have been relocated to make way for a new casual dining space called the Tavern at Tradition, where an expanded outdoor patio with heated floors offers the perfect spot to gather with friends and enjoy a craft cocktail and light bite. Inside the Tavern, Palmer’s memorabilia line the walls, infusing the cozy surrounds (think wood-beam ceilings and rustic Thechandeliers) minor league with a subtle touch of yesteryear. “Being onthe Hole No. 17, enjoying that view looking out onto affliate of NHL’s Seattle Kracken will coming down and having a ‘king’ cocktail the course, and then playnew at theTavern new arena. on the patio in homage to Mr. Palmer is something we cannot wait for the members to experience,” Williams shares. And he is excited about all of the culinary possibilities moving ahead. Williams has an extensive and distinguished

background in the restaurant industry, first as a cook with Rocco DiSpirito, then as an executive with Thomas Keller’s restaurant group (including French Laundry and Bouchon) and the James Beard Award-winning Frasca Hospitality Group (including Tavernetta) before joining Tradition. For a more formal meal, members can still gather in the adjacent Laurel Room, where a full-working wine cellar and newly added banquette seating on either side of the grand fireplace are just a few of the recent updates made to the Spanish hacienda-inspired space. Whether you’re playing cards in the men’s locker room (where Palmer’s old locker has been thoughtfully preserved) or sipping a cup of coffee on the charming inner patio overlooking the historic Hacienda and lawn, you instantly feel at ease here. It’s intimate. It’s warm. It’s homey. And it’s all by design. We wanted our clubhouse to feel like a home with charming areas where our members can sit and enjoy the company of their fellow member all while taking in our incredible views — regardless of where you are on the property,” Vann says. “Our interior design committee worked really hard to give the

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Chris Miller/imagineimagery.com

One of Tradition’s newest contemporary homes with breaktaking mountain and golf course views.

renovated clubhouse a fresh design while staying true to our Spanish Hacienda architecture.” Though home ownership isn’t a requirement to join Tradition Golf Club, those who wish to live “on campus” can work with a dedicated team of in-house real estate professionals to find, or build, the home of their dreams. Already constructed properties typically range from 3,000 to 8,500 square feet and architectural styles can somewhat vary — but all offer breathtaking mountain and golf course views, as well as intimate access to club amenities. Yet, despite the many enhancements, gorgeous Spanishstyle architecture and newly refreshed spaces, Vann says it’s often the intangible feeling prospective members have when they first visit the club that they remember most. Perhaps it’s the mature trees, majestic Santa Rosas, historic Hacienda, Palmer’s presence, the course, the flowers or the beauty of the clubhouse. And perhaps it’s the spirit of close community shared by people who enjoy a lifestyle that is at once sophisticated and uncomplicated, luxurious yet without pretense. Whatever the attraction, there is just something special here. And no matter where you wander within the club — atop the iconic 17th hole or beneath the Hacienda’s tiled roof — those picture-perfect views, and the stories they hold, are never out of sight. Or heart. Or mind

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HOME SWEET HOME Interested in learning more about the Tradition lifestyle? Membership inquiries can be made by requesting more information at traditiongc.com. For residential information, Tradition Properties, the club’s on-site real estate office, is located inside the Hacienda, and team members Bill and Amy Albers, Lisa Putnam, and Dave Faddis are available to show properties seven days a week. To schedule an appointment, contact Principal Realtor Amy Albers at 760-774-8245 or amy@traditionproperties.net.

Profile for Tradition Golf Club

Tradition - February Palm Springs Life Story  

Join us as we tour Tradition's Clubhouse Renovation.

Tradition - February Palm Springs Life Story  

Join us as we tour Tradition's Clubhouse Renovation.

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