Charles Briscoe-Knight pays a visit to Sunnylands retreat, home to one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world

Charles Briscoe-Knight pays a visit to Sunnylands Retreat, home to one of the most exclusive golf courses in the world…

Back in the 1960s, Walter Annenberg  – who was the US Ambassador to the UK – commissioned  the building of a “mid-century  modernist” home in the Californian  Desert at Rancho Mirage,  near Palm Springs.

Successive American Presidents have hosted numerous heads of state, political leaders and Hollywood icons, including the Queen, Prince Andrew, Princess Grace, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra.

President Obama has visited three times in the last 12 months, hosting The Chinese President, Xi Jinping, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

However, the third of these visits was for a mini-break to play some golf on Sumnylands’ nine-green, 18-hole private golf course.

What makes the layout so exclusive, though, is the fact that less than 200 rounds are played here annually.

You’d better make friends with President Obama if you want a knock.


Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to tee off at Sunnylands [Picture: Charles Briscoe-Knight]



“The course architect, Dick Wilson, was a genuis,” said Ray Floyd. “What a mind you have to have to create 18 holes on nine greens. It’s so cleverly thought out.” [Picture: Charles Briscoe-Knight]


The St. Andrews-style double green at the par 6th and the par-4 8th. [Picture: Charles Briscoe-Knight]


The Chinese “temple” on the side of the third acts as a sort of exotic halfway hut. [Picture: Charles Briscoe-Knight]


A 30-foot Kwakiutl “totem pole” from Canada is a potential hazard of the left of the 5th fairway. [Picture: Charles Briscoe-Knight]


During the Islamic Revolution, family members of the Shah of Iran were offered refuge within the walls of Sunnylands. [Picture: Charles Briscoe-Knight]