This year's annual Thanksgiving weekend Skins Game will showcase a new design by a British architect in the US. Clive Clark has been working in America for over a decade, and his latest creation will be unveiled to a watching TV audience at the November event. The former West course at the Indian Wells resort has been rebuilt by Clark as part of a resortwide US$55 million refit, and renamed the Celebrity course.
Originally designed by Ted Robinson, and occupying the flatter part of the Indian Wells property, the Celebrity course has been lengthened to 7,088 yards, but Clark said he had the resort golfer in his thoughts during the redesign. "99 per cent of golf played is at a social level and players want that experience to be pleasant, scenic and enjoyable," he says.
"No-one wants to be hitting out of tall fescue grass, intimidating huge bunkers or over vast yardages of water. Obviously these features play an important role in very serious competitions, but they can be incorporated within the projects by adding length to tees, or placing pins in awkward spots on the greens. The normal player wants a challenge, but not one that necessarily faces Sergio and Tiger each week." Clark lives near Indian Wells in the Coachella Valley, which now has more than 125 courses in an area only 40 by 12 miles – but was fortunate to be given an extra 70 acres of land to produce his enhanced course. The routing has been changed to enhance the views of the San Jacinto and Eisenhower mountain ranges to the south. Clark says his favourite hole is the short par five fourteenth, which at 519 yards should provide plenty of birdie opportunities during the Skins Game. And Clark will be there to see them – he has been lured back into the commentary booth for the event.