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New Gil Hanse-designed California golf club is ultra-exclusive

New Gil Hanse-designed California golf club is ultra-exclusive

It sits at the end of a half-mile gravel road leading to what was once 306 acres of lemon and mango trees in Thermal, 10 miles south of downtown Coachella. It is located where no desert golf course has been built before.

For more than a year, Ladera was the Coachella Valley’s mystery golf course, known mostly for who was building it and its rumored ultra-exclusive future. Few people knew about the project and fewer had seen the course during its construction and opening months of play.

Now, one of the co-owners of the layout is unafraid to say what he hopes the golf course’s stature will be in the desert and across the country.

“When people talk about the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, I want them to say that’s the home of the Coachella (music festival), home of the (BNP Paribas Open) tennis tournament, home of The American Express, home of the Acrisure Arena and home of Ladera,” said Irving Azoff, a long-time music industry mogul and co-founder of Oak View Group, builder of arenas and other venues including Acrisure Arena in Palm Desert. “That’s really what I care about.”

The first Gil Hanse design in the golf-rich Coachella Valley that features 120 courses, Ladera covers a sprawling 165 acres with an 18-hole regulation course, a nine-hole par-3 course and native landscape surrounded by what is still a working lemon farm. The landscape slopes 140 feet from the high point near the Santa Rosa Mountains across once-level land.

But the golf course — Golf Digest reported the course alone cost $40 million to build and does not include flood control and other costs — is only part of what Azoff and his best friend and co-owner Eddy Cue, a senior vice president for Apple, envision for Ladera. The experience of the course for the exclusive membership should be like no other course in the desert, Azoff said.

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“I want them to go out there and say I had the most peaceful, enjoyable, relaxing, one of the greatest golf days ever,” Azoff said. “I want it to be an all-day experience.”

The golfers enjoying the course, for the most part, won’t be Coachella Valley residents. Ladera is designed as a destination golf course, meaning members can be from anywhere in the United States who spend time in the desert or who fly into the area specifically to play their golf course. That’s similar to the idea of the national membership at Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters…


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