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 Melboure. Faldo 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.