Palm Springs, CA… A Place Where You Put the Cart Before the Horse

PGA West Country Club
Members gather in their Golf Carts at the PGA West Clubhouse.

Palm Springs, CA is a Golf Cart Oasis

Not all too long ago, Palm Springs was known for aging celebrities wearing white shoes and matching belts. Now, the dominant element of life in the Coachella Valley desert is golf courses, and a plethora of golf carts. This growing area is one of the largest golf-centric communities in the United States.

There are well over 100 public and private courses, many of them cloistered in gated private communities where homes start at $1,000,000 plus. Both types of courses maintain fleets of very nice golf carts, beautifully maintained and capable of two rounds per day. An emerging trend, however is for the purchase of highly individualized and customized carts. Parked around any clubhouse you can see carts that look like a Rolls Royce, a Mercedes or even a Ford Raptor. The options appear unlimited.

On public courses, the carts in the fleet are not fitted with headlights or taillights and are not registered with DMV to secure a license plate. Therefore, they are not supposed to be driven anywhere but on the course. However, a plethora of the privately-owned carts are street-worthy, and inside the gated communities they travel on private streets, so residents drive them all over their neighborhoods. Some homes even have a third-car garage, specifically designed for a golf cart and includes room for a charger and outlet for plugging in. In any case, a driver’s license is technically required to drive a golf cart on public streets, however it is not unusual to see under-age drivers behind the wheel in these gated communities.

Gated Communities love the Golf Cart Lifestyle

One of the best examples of golf cart living in the desert is in the PGA West community. This community of 1,422 homes behind gated entries has six different golf courses (three private and three semi-private) 54 pools and five lakes. It is estimated that there are more than 2,000 golf carts roaming the fairways and streets. Residents use their carts obviously for golf, but also to visit the clubhouses and spas and to get together with neighbors. The same applies at two massive Del Webb adult communities, where the social experience is driven by golf cart ownership and use. A third Del Webb master-planned community has recently opened in Rancho Mirage, which will take the cart count up considerably.

The choice of carts for the private owner is extensive and offers a wide variety of options. One of the more popular, due to soaring summer temperatures, is a roof-mounted air conditioning unit. Although I have sweat through many a round, golfers I have talked to say the things really work and make summer play much more enjoyable and avoids the need for three shirt changes to get to number 18. Other popular choices are making your cart look like your dream car with custom body work and grill and adding a killer sound system you can crank up when you opponent is getting ready to swing.

Golf Cart Dealerships in the Palm Springs area

Caddyshack Shelby Cobras
Shelby Cobra golf carts lined up in Caddyshack’s 26,000 Sq Ft Showroom.

There are several dealers in the Palm Springs area that specialize in customized carts. Caddyshack Golf Cars, one of the largest dealerships, builds and sells carts that allow you to cruise around the fairways in a Mustang, Camaro, Raptor or even a Shelby Cobra. Luxe Electric Cars is another popular dealer that can put you in a personalized car that looks like an Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover or just about anything your golf-saturated mind can imagine. Going to these showrooms is like being a kid in a candy store, if you can handle a sale price that can reach $10,000 and beyond. Because of dealerships like these, going to play golf in the Coachella Valley also gives you a free Cart Show in the mix.

A huge perk of Palm Springs (other than the amazing winter weather) is that visitors can rent golf carts from local dealers to use during their stay. Other good news is that the golf cart market seems to be growing as fast as the population in the region. Carts are fun to drive, they are environmentally correct because they do not use fossil fuel and the “tank” is always full after an overnight charge.

So, put the Coachella Valley on your golf bucket list. There are some magnificent courses to play and some pretty stylish ways to get from tee to green (driving gloves and a scarf that will flow in the wind are optional).

Ken Becker
Ken is a veteran of the golf industry, with experience in golf course operations, country club marketing, tournament staging (including the nationally televised ProStakes) and too many mis-hit shots to count. He has been writing since he could hold a pen and has been published in numerous national and industry publications. Ken has worked on projects with PGA pros like Jack Nicklaus, Peter Jacobsen, Fuzzy Zoeller, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Craig Stadler.

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