BIGHORN Golf Club: A Five-Star Lifestyle Evolved From A Vision – Forbes

BIGHORN Golf Club in Palm Desert, California

Channing Benjamin Photography

Over the past twenty-three years, BIGHORN Golf Club, located about 15 miles east of Palm Springs in Palm Desert, California has evolved into one of the top private residential golf club communities in the country, thanks to the vision and leadership of Chairman and Managing Director R.D. Hubbard.

Described as a private community within a private club, resting on Highway 74 above Palm Desert, club membership is exclusive to BIGHORN property owners. Today there are a total of over 470 residences and 520 Members.

For the past three years BIGHORN Properties has concentrated on residential resales, as all the lots have been sold. Here is one home for sale at BIGHORN. Currently listed at $6,980,000 this contemporary property is 8,878 square feet of indoor space.

BIGHORN is all about the indoor-outdoor desert living

Currently listed at BIGHORN for $6,980,000

Mark Davidson Photography

The vistas range from high above the Coachella Valley floor, from the surrounding Santa Rosa Mountains to the perfectly manicured Canyons and Mountains Golf Courses. The rich tournament history at BIGHORN includes the Battle at BIGHORN in 2000, 2001, and culminating in the 2002 Battle at BIGHORN with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus who defeated Sergio Garcia and Lee Trevino. The ladies’ LPGA World Championships were held here from 2004-2007, hosting the best 20 women players in the world. These award-winning courses were designed by Arthur Hills (Mountains course) and Tom Fazio (Canyons course). Large custom contemporary style multi-million-dollar homes line the curving rugged streetscapes of BIGHORN.

Thanks to the far-reaching vision and strong leadership, of BIGHORN’s Chairman and Managing Director R.D. Hubbard, BIGHORN has reached the pinnacle of success despite a troubled beginning. Mr. Hubbard, 84 or “R.D.” as he is called by friends and business associates is a true gentleman and a humble one at that.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Hubbard for Forbes after he acquired Hollywood Park, the fabled Los Angeles thoroughbred horse racing venue, prior to his involvement with BIGHORN.  

The mark of a true leader is how loyal his employees are. Mr. Hubbard has scores of long-time and loyal employees. A self-made success who originally grew a small glass company to become the industry’s second largest, in only 10 years, putting the company in top Fortune 500 list. He has been awarded numerous business and philanthropic awards, most recently being named a recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award in 2014.

Leading a small group of BIGHORN members, Mr. Hubbard acquired BIGHORN from Westinghouse Communities in 1996, during the early stages of BIGHORN’S development. The original investors have netted over a 600% return on their original investment.

The Hubbard’s life at BIGHORN began in 1991 when they purchased several lots and went on to build an expansive home. Drawn to BIGHORN through a close business associate, Mr. Hubbard cites the reason he and Joan Dale originally bought. “We knew there would be a first-class single-membership golf club operation in a beautiful setting.”

Fast forward to today. BIGHORN boasts five-star amenities from top dining experiences at the Canyons Steakhouse, to quick “grab and go” items and Starbucks coffees at The Marketplace. The BIGHORN Spa & Wellness Center a full-service salon and spa offers a sub-zero cryotherapy chamber.

Two words describes the lifestyle that defines BIGHORN. It’s casual and comfortable. “There really aren’t any rules here except being courteous and to never hold anyone up on the golf course,” Mr. Hubbard smiles. Members and their families can wear denim to all the dining experiences and in the Clubhouse. BIGHORN Members love the lifestyle so much that it now draws second and third generations of owners. One Member has owned nine different homes. Over the last five years, 132 new Members have joined BIGHORN and purchased homes. Family events are a big draw with snow brought in after Christmas for sledding, lots of seasonal holiday inspired events, kid’s tennis and golf clinics—as well as evening social events for the whole family.

Mr. Hubbard’s long-standing practice of reinvesting in BIGHORN can be found at The Canyons Steakhouse, the Spa and Wellness Center and the Marketplace, which were developed with profits from real estate sales and no assessments to Members. “I like to build things here that Members will enjoy and will add value to their lives,” Mr. Hubbard said.  

BIGHORN has grown without outside financing, with real estate sales’ profits being reinvested. “The burden of growth does not go to the members,” Mr. Hubbard explains. A perfect example is BIGHORN’S recently completed 80,000 square foot Clubhouse with a price tag of $75 million. This was the first time in 23 years, that the Members have been assessed. With views from the entrance straight through to the Santa Rosa Mountains, it is architecturally striking yet comfortable. It was built in only 16 months, to minimize disruption to membership. The construction only impacted one “season” and reopened to wide acclaim and K.C. & The Sunshine Band performing at the private “Welcome Home” opening party in November 2017. To top it off, Mr. Hubbard and his management team decided to build four unique 5,000 square foot penthouses directly above the Clubhouse, offsetting the Clubhouse construction costs. 

Another, recent addition, is The Vault, a club membership within a club membership—an ultra-luxe auto gallery where over 90 Members purchased spaces several years ago to the tune of $100,000 to house their beloved cars. There is currently a waiting list and prices have appreciated.

Don’t think BIGHORN is all about the money. It is one of the most philanthropic private clubs in the Coachella Valley. BIGHORN has 3 charities under the umbrella BIGHORN Golf Club Charity. These include BIGHORN CARES, BIGHORN BAM and BIGHORN Scholarships.

BIGHORN Cares has gifted over $2.3 million through 242 grants to qualified non-profits in the Coachella Valley since its founding 2013. All funds contributed are by BIGHORN Members.  BIGHORN BAM (Behind a Miracle) has raised $8.7 million in the past 12 years to assist local patients in their treatment of cancer including purchasing state-of-the art equipment for the Luci Curci Cancer Center and providing van transportation services to help people get to and from treatment. Since 2006 over 600 scholarships have been awarded to BIGHORN employees and their families, once again supported by donations from BIGHORN Members.

Look to BIGHORN to continue to hold one of the top spots in private clubs while doing good for the community, employees and Members.

                                                              

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