For as under-the-radar as this 290-residence community is, word travels. The club was distinguished as a Platinum Club of America in 2017. (Only 3 of the 50 clubs recognized are in Southern California.) Recent years have marked its fastest growing seasons. And several months ago, Tradition’s 18th hole graced the Fall 2021 cover of The Golfer’s Journal, an artful quarterly publication on par with a prized coffee table book.
The winning image — a sunrise shot of the 18th green at first light — was captured by Armand “AJ” Barragan, a 30-something member and professional photographer. The timing of the issue coincided with another cause for celebration: He and his wife, Sarah Rose, welcomed their first baby, Justus, who became Tradition’s youngest member.
“The course is so unimaginably beautiful it inspired my interest in photography,” says the new dad. “Now it’s a full-blown business and Tradition remains our best canvas.” Barragan and a golf buddy founded their Instagram team, @couldbetheday, in 2018. Top industry manufacturers including Cleveland Golf, Puma, and Srixson have commissioned their golf and golf-lifestyle shots. Now they travel across North America, shooting while they play.
Barragan also serves as Chief Operations Officer of Jay’s Catering, established as an Orange County icon by his grandfather over 50 years ago. (The same one who brought him to the desert when he was young, creating cherished memories he wanted to give his own child.) Sarah Rose manages several event venues, resplendent in period buildings the company restored.
“We looked at all the usual suspects, but we fell in love with the quaintness and the historical aspect of Tradition,” he says. “It feels like it has been there even longer than it has, and the new renovation perfectly enhanced that feeling.”
The couple has been Junior Members of this “magical place” since 2017, proving that, in the thick of it all, club life is accessible, and even a necessary stress-buster from work. Barragan says they fit right in, escaping behind the gates every weekend and holiday they can. “As soon as we get there, we feel like we’re on vacation,” he says. “And it doesn’t hurt that I’m golf-obsessed!”
For this family, the game will be a lifelong love. “Sarah Rose only golfs at Tradition, where she takes lessons,” Barragan also adds. “She won’t take lessons from me or anyone in Orange County.” Barragan sees the game in his young son’s future, too, as soon as he can swing a club.
“My favorite hole is 12,” he shares of the fairways named “the prettiest course in Palm Springs” by Golf World Magazine. “When you play in the afternoon, the bunkering looks like a postcard. Through our photography business, I’ve played almost all of the local courses now. And, yes, I’m biased. But this is the best course in the desert.”