It’s eight on a Sunday morning and the blazing ball of fire called the sun is sending blinding rays through the cracks in the canvas curtains of my hotel room, right into my retina. The bed is comfortable and I’m not prepared to rise and greet the day.
But that sunlight tells me that I’m in for a very hot round of golf and that I better get up. It’s only going to get hotter.
You might have heard of Palm Springs, the oasis of mid-century architecture, rat-pack style, and pristine golf courses. After all, it’s been immortalized in films and novels for decades and even acted as a swanky retirement community for not one, but two US Presidents (Ford and Eisenhower). It’s that nice.
It’s an amazing vacation destination… in the winter.
In the summer, Palm Springs is an inferno. A shadeless desert. A place so hot the city has ‘misters’ built into the sidewalks to help provide some cooling relief and ensure people don’t keel over from heatstroke.
Over the years, this relentless heat has done nothing to cool the place down. Tourists have made Palm Springs a year-round destination and that means even in the hottest part of the summer, you can have a really great time.
And part of having a great time is making sure that ice cold beer and golf play a large part of that equation.
So, back to that 8 AM tee-time. Along with partner in crime, filmmaker Wyatt Seavern, I was not crazy enough to get up at the crack of dawn. So, we settled on what we felt was a reasonable hour.
We were wrong. By the time I got in the car it was already 85 degrees and climbing rapidly. So much for the plan.
A note about the golf course we chose to play. Like Florida, Palm Springs hosts dozens of amazing golf courses. All of them miracles of engineering with emerald green fairways and pool-table greens cut into a natural setting so brutal that walking from one golf course to another a mile away would be dangerous. Water is in short supply, and while The Classic Club uses recycled water for everything, it still felt a little wrong, despite being in the lap of golf luxury.
We even had Troon® equipped golf cart with GPS that allowed us to email the beverage cart while on the course. That’s right, our golf cart could summon us beer... on demand.
We knew from our recon that The Classic Club was well stocked with a variety of beers and while generally frowned upon, we did supplement the stock with a few local brews as well. Our goal was simple: find the best cold beer for an incredibly hot round. While our decision-making was entirely subjective and fairly haphazard, the beers had to fit a few basic criteria: hydrating, refreshing, flavorful, body-full.
Beyond that we kept an open mind. This wasn’t supposed to be a controlled environment. It was golf.
Hangar 24 Orange Wheat
La Quinta Even Par 7.2 IPA
La Quinta Poolside Blonde
Anheuser Busch Bud Light*
Anheuser Busch Montejo*
*ABI products here. ABI, via ZX Ventures, is an investor in October Magazine but they did not pay for, nor influence the inclusion of these beers in our ‘test’ – those two were simply in the beer cart!
I’m not ashamed to note that the following round of golf was not the best I’ve played.
After the starter showed us the tee box – this place is fancy – I immediately shanked my drive. I was also parched and had to dip into the bag before we hit the green on the first hole.
We came up with local brewery La Quinta’s golf themed IPA, ‘Even Par 7.2,' complete with the tagline “may not help you shoot even par, it will certainly make you feel like you did!” As you might expect, the 7.2 is in reference to the alcohol content and we assumed (rightly) it was better to consume this one early in the round. We didn’t want that level of alcohol in the blazing sun.
Immediate notes came from the heavy bitter and highly floral taste – this was not a watery beer. We also noticed it packed a punch, and given we were already over par off the first hole, we can’t say the extra booze didn’t help settle our nerves as we tee’d off on hole #2, a canyon par three. The beer itself was cold, but as the hole progressed it warmed quickly and with the heat, the flavors became too much to bear.
Next up was La Quinta’s second offering. The Poolside Blonde was billed as a lighter brew but, as with many lighter craft beers, this came with robust flavors. We both felt that it was heavy on the nose and floral, and while not an IPA, it had a strong hop note on the finish. It too didn’t hold up to the heat and by the end of the fifth hole, we’d ditched the blonde and moved on.
Sticking to water for a hole or two seemed to keep our hydration in check and allowed us to enjoy the Classic Club’s immaculate greens and ‘TROON’ golf, which tells you how far your cart is from the pin. Highly convenient, even more so after a few beers, because judging distance in that desert heat can be difficult.
At the turn, we dug into our third local brew, Hanger 24’s Orange Wheat beer. Based in Redlands California, Hanger is not widely known, but that could change, even if Wyatt and I diverged on our opinion. I found the Orange Wheat highly drinkable and delicious. It was light but packed with flavor and didn't suffer in the heat. For his part, Wyatt came down on the ‘too much flavor for golf beer’ category. I enjoyed it enough to have two.
At this point, our round had devolved. The combination of beer and heat were getting the better of our scores and while I think beer is important in your enjoyment of golf, keeping notes about beer while golfing isn’t. We’d also run out of our local choices and were happy to press a button and summon the drink cart… at which time we found ourselves with a more limited but traditional selection: Bud Light and Montejo.
We were also coming to the close of the round. Staying hydrated and keeping it light felt more important than ever. Much has been written about the merits and tastes of Bud Light, and there is little to add to the mix here, with the exception of saying that in a situation like that which we found ourselves, Bud Light was a natural and appropriate choice. Ice cold.
Which left us with Montejo to finish – a brand that neither of us had heard of before the round. After one swallow we both looked at each other with raised eyebrows. This was good. Better than we anticipated to be sure.
A few shots and a few swallows later, we were still in agreement. Montejo was a clear winner. Icy cold and refreshing it had fantastic drinkability, low alcohol content and just enough flavor to give it a strong edge over Bud Light.
Montejo men we were.
The end of the round came before lunch and to be frank, we were ready. The sun parched desert was screaming at over 105 degrees and our cooler was empty of beer, our golf bags devoid of balls (we each lost at least six of them) and our scores were thrown into the trash bin. Perfect.
In the end we learned two things. Golf in palm springs in the summer is beautiful and difficult, even on a pristine course like the Classic, which has hosted the Bob Hope Tournament. Not being near scratch golfers, the course probably was a bit more of a challenge than we needed.
The other was the fact that drinking beer with a good friend while playing golf is an excellent way to beat the heat as long as you choose a light, icy brew and make sure you alternate with bottles of water.
We were just as happy to head back to the Ace Hotel and jump in the pool and start working on our, “The Best Beers for a Hotel Pool," for which you’ll have to wait until next summer to read.