miles east of Los Angeles in Death Valley
National Park, where temperatures often
sizzle well into triple digits, a comparison to
Hades might not be that far off.
“People perspire out here unknowingly
because s weat evaporates very quickly, so it’s
vital to remain hydrated,” says Kip Freeman,
head golf professional who, smartly, has a
summer job elsewhere.
Climate aside, the 6,236-yard, 18-hole
Furnace Creek Golf Course offers players a
considerable reward: the guarantee of being
able to record their lowest score ever. Resting
at 214 feet below sea level against a backdrop
of the rugged, often snowcapped Panamint
Range, this is the lowest-elevation course on
the planet, reason alone to qualify for any
golfer’s bucket list.
of the course, and the few complaints we get
from players expecting a championship layout do not understand the challenges we face
inside a national park.” Here, “if you replace
or improve something,” he explains, “it must
be historically accurate to the way it was
100 years ago, and it almost takes an act of
• FURNACE CREEK GOLF COURSE
Congress to get something approved.”
Wawona Golf Course might just be the best
place to see your tax dollars at work on one of
the country’s grandest stages.
Death Valley National Park
With golfers trying to keep their total score
under the year-round average temperature,
Furnace Creek might be considered the
course from hell. With its location some 300
The course has been drawing duffers since
1927, when date palm farmers planted three
holes for entertainment, and grew to 18 holes
in 1968; a complete renovation in 1997 raised
it into the resort-style leagues.
First-timers expecting parched fair ways
are quickly surprised to find lush landscape,
thanks to an ample underground water source
keeping the recycled irrigation systems flowing. The front nine provides generous landing
areas and a few water features; then, after you
steer your cart up the wooden ramp to a drive-through full-service bar/restaurant, the back
nine challenges you with palm and tamarisk
trees, along with, you guessed it, plenty of sand.
And remember, don’t get too upset after
scoring an eight on a hole — you just made a
snowman in the desert. m
Golf Course. This page,
clock wise from top left:
Wawona; Furnace Creek
marker; Furnace Creek
course and mountain view.