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The Westin Golf Resort & Spa

By Tim Cotroneo

When the Lead Teaching Professional at The Westin Rancho Mirage Resort describes what he does for a living, it sounds like the best job in the world. “My second home is working at a resort. I tell my kids that I go on vacation every day,” David Curtis said.

Curtis’ office is at the Pete Dye Course, a 6700-yard layout, based in a destination known for 350 days of sunshine per year. Curtis teaches golfers from around the world looking to improve their game. These same golfers flock to a course designed by one of the greatest names in the industry.

“I’m surrounded by palm trees, snow capped mountains, and most of the time the temperature is around 75 degrees. The best part is I get to help people play better golf,” Curtis said. As you might guess, the whole time Curtis talked about his profession he couldn’t stop smiling.

History of the Pete Dye Course

Curtis came on board as a Golf Professional at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa in 2001. Curtis is a student of the course’s history, and he watched as a signature Dye element needed tender loving care in 2013. “The course opened in 1987, and Pete Dye’s trademark railroad ties that bolster the bunkers and water holes were showing signs of wear. So, in 2013 our course went through a renovation phase,” Curtis said.

When asked about the differences between the front nine and back nine, Curtis provided an interesting reply. “The front nine was designed by members of Dye’s team. The back nine was designed by the master himself. If you know Pete Dye, you can see the difference.”

Curtis noted that the greens and bunkers reveal Dye’s personal touch. “You’ll find the greens on the back side are more undulating, and you’ll also encounter more pot bunkers on holes 10 through 18,” Curtis shared.

Kinder and Gentler

The Pete Dye namesake course in Rancho Mirage is felt to exhibit a kinder and gentler glimpse into the architect’s 42-year design legacy. Golfers receive a reprieve on most tee shots as generous fairways are the norm throughout your Dye journey. It’s on the second shot that Dye forces golfers to think. 

“If you pay attention, the drives that favor the right side of the fairway will follow with a second shot pointing left. The opposite is true on the drives where a draw is preferred,” Curtis noted.

Dye also tries a little tenderness on The Westin Rancho Mirage holes that feature water. The greens in which golfers contend with H2O actually break away from the water. Thanks, Pete!

Desert Golf Mountain Golf

For golfers who find their way to The Westin Rancho Mirage, the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains provide splendid eye candy that is hard to ignore. The Par 5, 541-yard 5th hole is a real crowd pleaser. “If you tee off around sunrise, the glow on the mountains can turn purple, yellow, and red. You can also see the mirror image of the mountains in the water. It’s a beautiful moment,” Curtis said. 

The Par 4, 417-yard, 14th hole is at it’s best in the late afternoon. Photographers refer to the last hour before sunset as the golden hour. At the time when there is perfect light from above, the 14th fairway and putting green are alive with color.

Curtis loves the course’s practice range in the early morning hours. Imagine hitting balls facing a mountain range when all is quiet with the world. Then there is the can you top this 18th hole. The Par 4, 385-yard finisher awaits with a reflective shimmer of water guarding a massive green. All in all, the Pete Dye Course is a Palm Springs must for the golfer looking to become one with nature.

What’s in a Name?

The Westin Rancho Mirage Resort and Spa golf team loves elevating a golfer’s game. Curtis’ schedule often includes up to seven lessons in a day. Teaching comes in the form of one-on-one training, clinics, golf schools, and on course instruction.

Curtis doesn’t believe in a one style fits all method. His goal is to match golf instruction to the preferred learning style of his client. The 2022 Desert Chapter Teacher of the Year believes you communicate in a way that makes sense to the client.

Curtis’ passion for his profession is most evident in the nickname he’s earned during his 20-plus years at The Westin Rancho Mirage. “They call me Sunup to Sundown,” Curtis said. Sounds like a good tag for someone with an ever-present smile who looks at his calling as a working vacation.