What Is the 'Desert Swing' in Pro Golf?

Pro golf tour desert swings are played on golf courses in the desert

The term "desert swing" is often applied, by both tour golfers and golf fans, to a stretch of tournaments played on desert-style golf courses. A desert-style golf course is, basically, a golf course built in a desert: ribbons of green fairway and putting greens in a sea of sand, surrounded by scrub brush (if any brush at all) and shades of brown.

The world's professional golf tours visit desert golf courses with regularity, because some of the places you'll find them are golf hotbeds: Arizona and Southern California, for example.

Historically, there are two golf tours in particular where a desert swing was once (or still is) a well-known part of the tour schedule.

For many years on the PGA Tour, the "desert swing" consisted of back-to-back-to-back stops in Palm Springs, California, then Phoenix and Tucscon in Arizona. The tournaments went by various names over the years, including Palm Springs Golf Classic (later called the Bob Hope Desert Classic), Phoenix Open and Tucson Open. Those events were played in consecutive weeks on the PGA Tour from the early 1960s and for several decades after. It was those tournaments that popularized the phrase "desert swing" for such a stretch of events: a literal swing through the desert for the pro golfers.

In more recent years, the best-known "desert swing" in golf has taken place on the European Tour. That tour visits places in Asia, including the Middle East, where several states and emirates have well-known desert golf courses. The tournaments that make up the European Tour's desert swing are best-remembered as the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Qatar Masters and Dubai Desert Classic.

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Photo credit: "The view is half the game" by Kirt Edblom is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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