When Arnold Palmer designed his golf course at SilverRock Resort in LaQuinta, he made sure to provide plenty of hazards. But he probably didn’t factor in one that showed up in the middle of the 16th fairway Friday afternoon.
Suddenly, less than a seven-iron away, a small herd of bighorn sheep appeared. They live high in the adjacent Santa Rosa Mountains and are most often seen standing majestically amid rocks 1,000 feet above. The mountains are their camouflage protection.
They took their time, meandering back toward the mountains at the gentle urging of a course marshal in a golf cart. While the bighorn sheep generally stay high on the mountain, they occasionally make fairway appearances, even during the January pro golf event played at the nearby PGA West courses and now called the Humana Open.
The on-course temperature Friday was about 100 degrees at the time, and it was likely that the bighorn sheep had run out of water on the other, less human inhabited, side of the mountain.
One of the players in the group enjoying the fairway viewing, Jim Hunsaker of La Quinta, said he has played at SilverRock about twice a week for several years and has seen bighorn sheep on the course only once or twice before.
This up-close-and-personal visit from such a regal animal was a special treat even Palmer hadn’t thought about.