Our History

From Our Founding to the Future

Indian Wells Country Club is one of the original private country clubs in the desert. Its inception in 1956 began over dinner at Ruby’s restaurant in Palm Springs, when Paul and Isabel Prom and Jean Susalla discussed the idea of building a golf and country club in Coachella Valley. The concept was a 9-hole private club surrounded by houses that could be a home away from home for Members. Founders included celebrities, wealthy businessmen and prominent residents, including Desi Arnaz, Paul Prom, Eddie Susalla, Linn Johnson, Earl Murphy, Milt Hicks, Bill Worthing and John Curci.

The Club earned its reputation as “the fun club of the desert,” among the three that existed at the time of its founding, for its welcoming spirit and relaxed atmosphere where status could take a backseat to enjoying life. Members enjoyed all the luxuries of a private club lifestyle while still feeling like part of the family. A tagline from one of the early brochures sums up the lifestyle as a “formal invitation to informal living.”

For years, Indian Wells was a celebrity playground and had several celebrity members early on, including Bob Hope, Desi Arnaz, George Goble, Chuck Connors, Arthur Lake, Lawrence Welk, Dennis James, Phil Harris and Joey Bishop of Rat Pack fame. The Indian Wells Hotel off the 11th green was known nationwide and owned by television stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The largest of the four lakes on the golf course was named Bing-Phil after entertainment stars of the day Bing Crosby and Phil Harris, with a canoe named after the wife of movie star William Powell. The Bob Hope Desert Classic hosted at the Club for more than 40 years gave celebrities even more reason to visit Indian Wells for its unique hospitality.

Along with the stars of stage and screen who had taken up residence in the surrounding neighborhood, President Gerald Ford was a VIP Member both in and out of office in the 1970s. While in office, the secret service installed a communication equipment panel in the men’s locker room of the former clubhouse and made blank tee times around his starting time for security reasons.

Through all the events and visitors over the years, the Club has never lost sight of what’s most important to Members. To this day, there is a feeling of home, a sense of family and a special relationship between Members and staff that are all unique to Indian Wells. It will always be the fun club of the desert.