Crowning a much anticipated international design competition, Palmer Course Design company of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, prevailed over three other finalists on Friday to secure the right to negotiate with the City of La Quinta for the design of the highly touted municipal golf course located at SilverRock Ranch. The City circulated a total of 38 RFP’s to noted course architects worldwide. Initial interviews narrowed the candidates to sixteen and last week, it was time for the ‘final four’ to put their most convincing presentation before the Redevelopment Agency, whose $42.5 million purchase of the 525 acre site from KSL Resorts last year destined this project for high visibility within the golf development industry.
Adjacent to private golf communities PGA West and the Tradition Golf Club, both of which feature Arnold Palmer golf course designs, SilverRock Ranch is regarded as one of the most desirable golf resort developments nationwide because of the site’s natural beauty and its location within the Palm Springs area, already a mecca for the sport.
Erik Larsen, Vice President and Senior Golf Course Architect with PCDC made an impassioned presentation to the Agency on behalf of the unique and irreplaceable value of selecting the “King of Golf” for the citizen’s course: “Mr. Palmer has not only been visiting La Quinta since before the town was incorporated (1980), but as a resident of The Tradition, he is literally your neighbor. He believes in providing beautiful courses that are fun to play and that inspire golfers to come back time after time, because they’ve had such a good experience. By the same token, we at PCDC are experienced at designing a challenging course for the more accomplished golfer. I can assure you that Arnold Palmer will be a personal ambassador for the City’s success with this spectacular property.”
GMA International, master planners from Newport Beach, California, prepared the conceptual design plan, which was unanimously adopted by the City’s Redevelopment Agency last month. The GMA Plan proposes a championship course parallel to the Santa Rosa Mountain backdrop, accented with lakes and water features. Other land uses for SilverRock reflect multiple hotel sites, including a boutique hotel and spa, golf clubhouse facility and community center, recreational facilities and private residence villas around the two and one-half golf courses.
Thematic influences considered by GMA and the City include an international village motif heavily-flavored toward the ‘ultimate’ golf experience, which might include a Q School, a Golf Hall of Fame, as well an innovative teaching and conditioning facilities. The Dave Pelz School currently occupies the site of the old Ahmanson ranch house on site and leases the facility from the City on a year-by-year basis. When questioned, Larsen identified the SilverRock team as the same skilled designers that created Tradition: Mr. Palmer, Larsen, and David Chapman. In addition to master planning SilverRock Ranch and The Tradition, GMA also designed and entitled The Hideaway, a private golf community across the street from the new development.
Contract negotiations with PCDC will commence immediately as current schedules call for grading of the first course to begin this fall. Community speculation and interest in securing a permanent relationship with the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic may have contributed to the favorable impression of Palmer’s organization. Arnold Palmer has contributed to the success of the Hope Classic for many years and is credited with assisting the positive financial impact the Classic has on the community through the support of his personal involvement and the international resources of the Palmer organization.