Sunrise Country Club was one of the Coachella Valley’s early developments south and east of Palm Springs. In 1971, developer Bill Bone purchased a 135-acre date plantation adjacent to the famed Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage. Situated in a cove at the foot of the rugged Santa Rosa Mountains and largely protected from the high winds that are common farther east, the scenic property was ideal for development as a desert resort community.

After plans were drawn and approved, construction began in 1974. A total of 746 condominiums were built around an 18-hole, 64-par executive golf course designed by renowned California architect Ted Robinson. The development included four small lakes, 22 swimming pools, 11 tennis courts, 8 professional pickleball courts, and a gracious clubhouse housing a restaurant, grille, lounge, game rooms, and pro shops for golf and tennis.

The condominiums, four to a building, were available in eight floor plans offering a variety of one, two and three-bedroom units. By the late 1970s, Sunrise Country Club was nearly sold out. Its great location and value-priced condos appealed to Southern California residents wanting a desert getaway for weekends and holidays. Sunrise also drew many “Snowbirds” from Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and other cold weather regions wishing to spend their winter months in the desert sunshine.

For the first nine years, Bill Bone retained ownership of the clubhouse, golf course, and other common facilities. His success at Sunrise led to his developing additional country clubs in the valley including Rancho Las Palmas, Monterey Country Club, Palm Valley, and The Lakes.

In 1981, Bone announced his intention to sell Sunrise to the California Golf and Tennis Company, which owned and managed numerous other country clubs and golf courses. CG&T had agreed to buy the club for $1,492,000 and the deal was in escrow. In fact, the would-be buyers began replacing personnel, transferring the liquor license, and initiating other changes even before the sale was finalized.

Perhaps as a favor, an afterthought, or upon legal advice, Bone gave the homeowners the opportunity to buy the club, albeit on very short notice. Late in the summer, he formally notified the homeowners that they could purchase the club for essentially the same terms as CG&T: $746,000 cash down and monthly payments of $16,595 for five years. He stipulated, however, that the down-payment check had to be delivered by October 30 and escrow be closed by November 13.

A committee of homeowners, lead by five extraordinary individuals, formed a corporation and immediately sprang into action. Concerned that property values would suffer and the friendly ambience of Sunrise might deteriorate if the club were owned and operated by an outside for-profit firm, the group sent letters soliciting $4,500 per household. Numerous meetings were held and telephone campaigns were waged to raise the money. Remarkably, despite short notice, the ongoing economic recession, and many seasonal owners not yet being on site, the homeowner group did come up with the required votes and down-payment to buy the club by the November, 1981 deadline.

Had the homeowners had more time, they likely would have merged the Homeowners Association with the newly purchased country club to form a single entity under a single board. Instead, Sunrise operates to this day under two entities: the Sunrise Country Club Homeowners Association, Inc. and the Sunrise Country Club of Rancho Mirage, Inc. The two corporations have separate bylaws and boards of directors, but operate harmoniously under one general manager for the benefit of everyone who lives and plays at Sunrise.

Over the years, many dedicated and capable individuals have served on the boards and worked hard to protect the value and financial stability of Sunrise. Bylaws have been revised to reflect the changing times and numerous improvements have been made to the facilities. The clubhouse has been modernized and an activities center was added in 2000 to accommodate meetings and physical fitness facilities.

Now over four decades old, Sunrise Country Club has in many ways reached its prime. The original landscaping is gorgeously mature, and the buildings have been attractively repainted and roofs re-tiled. Sections of water-conserving desert landscaping and a major solar power installation reflect the club’s commitment to the environment and wise long-term planning.

The club’s history is not only about organizational changes and the maintenance of facilities. No less important, Sunrise has developed a culture of fun and friendliness that is unique among country clubs in the Coachella Valley. The tennis and golf programs are very popular, and the tournaments fill up fast! Moreover, there is an unpretentious ambience that opens its arms to new owners and makes everyone feel valued.

Sunrise Country Club, a pioneer in gated communities in the Coachella Valley, member-owned and operated, with its great location, excellent facilities, and genuinely inclusive and friendly atmosphere, is a success story by any measure.