Sixty-six players (54 men and 12 women), plus an entourage of close to 300 spotters, judges (scorers and rules committee). Sponsors, vehicle drivers, and disbelieving friends, completed in this year's event recently–to the astonishment of deer hunters, motorcycle riders, and forest rangers who also frequent that neck of the woods.
The "course" is 27 miles of sagebrush, Joshua trees, cactus, deep ravines and rocky ledges from Baldwin Lake (altitude 8,800 feet) in the San Bernardino mountains in California to Yucca Valley (3,300 feet) in the Mojave Desert.
The common hazards on the 10-hole course includes: ravines, sagebrush, rocks, snakes and lost balls. Each golfer has a spotter to keep track of the ball. Some holes are a few hundred yards along, others more than a mile.
In the early days of the Pioneer Pass Challenge, players walked or rode horseback the entire 27 miles, but today there us transportation from hole to hole by truck. The "cup" on the 10 Pioneer Pass holes is a 20-foot circle, but to reach it players must shoot over and around sagebrush, Joshua trees, rocks and even a snake or two. Play runs past Rimrock, through Pioneertown and the Russ Hayden Western Museum en route to the final hole at the Blue Shies course.
The longest golf course in the world is opened each year for the annual Pioneer Pass Gold Challenge. The 27-mile course begins at Baldwin Lake and ends at Blue Skies Country Club in Yucca Valley.
A western movie set at the Hayden Ranch Will be the deciding for the ninth annual Sandra Hayden Memorial foundation benefit schedules from noon to 6 PM July 7.
The dirt back road between the towns is still unpaved, but the Pioneer Pass Golf Challenge has soldiered on, unfazed, for 56 years. Proceeds from the tournament, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Yucca Valley, goes to the Morongo Basin Historical Society and Miracle League of Morongo Basin, a baseball field and league for kids with special needs.