The 1950s & 1960s

The 1950s & 1960s


Shortly after the first golf course was built in Palm Springs, the boom was on. In the mid- to late-1950s, Johnny Dawson and Jimmy Hines began developing Eldorado Country Club and Golf Course. Around the same time, Eddie Susalla and Paul Prom, later joined by Milt Hicks and Desi Arnaz, began building the Indian Wells Country Club and Golf Course.

In 1957, Arnaz opened his Indian Wells Hotel (forerunner to the Indian Wells Resort Hotel) on a site that would later become the club's 11th and 12th fairways. Just three years later, a youthful Arnold Palmer won the first Bob Hope Desert Classic, a tournament Milt Hicks, then president of Indian Wells Country Club, helped launch. The presence of such Hollywood legends as Desi Arnaz, Frankie Avalon, Ray Bolger, Kirk Douglas, James Garner, Harry James, Zeppo Marx and of course Bob Hope, all of whom played in the inaugural event, along with President Eisenhower, a regular Indian Wells visitor and later Eldorado homeowner, created a unique identity.


To ensure Indian Wells would remain a community characterized by distinctly fine residential/country club living and resort hotels, in 1957, E.M. "Pete" Peterson, who became the city's first mayor, established the first property owners association. Peterson's commitment to quality of life carried forward and still defines the city today.

When Palm Desert attempted to incorporate in 1965, its original plan was to include Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage. But community leaders had other plans. Before the Palm Desert group could file its papers, Citizens for Incorporation for Indian Wells filed its own petition. On February 24, 1967, the petition was accepted. An election date was set for June.