Golf History

Home of the Bob Hope Classic for More Than 40 Years

Indian Wells has always been known for its immaculate course, top golf professionals and its own golf legends. Big names in the world of golf who represented the Club as PGA Tour players include Forrest Fessler, George Cadle, Mark Pfile and John Wilson with the course record of 57. The most famous PGA touring professional who was an Indian Wells Member was George Archer, who competed alongside Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. He is considered one of the game’s all-time great putters and, at one time, held the PGA Tour record for the fewest putts over four rounds. Archer is also the only player in PGA Tour Champions history to win a tournament in each of the first three decades of its existence.

Alongside the Club’s history with the PGA Tour, there was also some involvement in the early days of the LPGA. Shirley Spork, who later became a female teaching pro at Indian Wells in the 1970s, helped establish the LPGA Teaching Division in 1959. The first teaching committee, which Spork was part of, helped create guidelines and strategies for the LPGA Teaching Division’s future growth. Today, it is known as the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Membership.

The biggest draw at Indian Wells, its Classic Course built in 1956 by the founders, was famous in its own right as the original home of the Bob Hope Desert Classic for more than 40 years. The earliest tournaments had a tradition of choosing a celebrity “Classic Queen,” and titleholders included Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell and Jill St. John. In the 1970s, queens included Barbara Eden and Linda Carter. Each day of the celebrity pro-am competition, when the round was over, all the players, pros and amateurs would gather for a party called the “jam session” at Indian Wells, with entertainment by big names like Andy Williams, Glenn Campbell, Johnny Bench and others.

The Bob Hope Desert Classic gave rise to some legendary moments in golf history as well. In 1961, PGA professional player Don January made a hole-in-one on the 15th hole of the Classic that was worth $50,000. It was also the site of Arnold Palmer’s 11th hole-in-one on the 6th hole of the Classic Course in 1980. He played in 41 of the 46 Hope Tournaments at the Club and won the Eisenhower Trophy a record five times. Palmer was also the first inductee into the Indian Wells Classic Hall of Fame, a Red Feather recipient and an honorary life member of Indian Wells Country Club.

In 1995, the Bob Hope Desert Classic saw some of its most prominent guests ever as Presidents Clinton, Ford and Bush opened the tournament with Bob Hope. In preparation, employees at Indian Wells had to have a security background check and anyone who was going to have direct contact with the presidents needed special clearance. Additionally, security agencies did a thorough inspection of the grounds and clubhouse during the days leading up to the event, including visits by the secret service, snipers, bomb experts, the FBI and CIA, among others.

Throughout the years, Members from all walks of life have come from near and far for a golf experience that is truly one of a kind. There’s nothing quite like golf at Indian Wells.