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Been a few months since I last played here; I keep my handicap here but play all over, and every time I play here I wonder why I bother going anywhere else. I can’t say enough about what they have done sine the fire damage a year or so ago, the course surrounds have been carefully attended to and the place looks fantastic right now. Most importantly, they have re-sanded the bunkers and they are almost fun to be in. Played on a Saturday morning, 7/27, I think the heat kept some folks away and there were a number of foursomes, more twosomes, and I played as a single and never really had an issue getting around in just under 4 hours. Twosome in front of me clearly did not want company, so I lagged back and the foursome several tee times behind me never got close. As always, the range is in fantastic shape, the short game green is terrific, and right now the fairway turf is very green and seemingly tight lies on these lowcut fairways have plenty of give in them without being mushy. Staff is great always, and while the green fees are probably a little much for some, you can really see what you are paying for while playing—the maintenance is second to none. Can’t wait to get back.
Played Pechanga for first time, with a tribe member who plays there regularly to show me the way, and it was needed—at times the cartpaths were so long and windy I was sure I had made a wrong turn. I enjoyed the round and played well, and there are some really good holes and some pretty ones and awesome views of the valley—but much of the layout is not to my taste. Many holes on the hillside are a bit gimmicky, designed more for the view from the tee box than for the golf hole itself. The place is extremely well kept, and maintenance crews were everywhere doing lots of routine stuff, and never in the way but the caretaking really shows. The practice facility is terrific, especially the short game area replete with several greens and many bunkers (but oddly designed without a lot of room to hit greenside chips of varying length). The main range—which along with the short game area is open only to those with tee times or guests of the resort—has grass, but today we were on mats, but the really nice spongy ones that are as close to grass as one can get. Excellent food service at 1 and 10, and the beverage cart came by 4 times. Pace was right at 4 hours, mostly because, seriously, sometimes the ride from green to tee is itself 5 minutes long. Terrific staff, and a good starter paying attention to groupings on a day when there were a lot of twosomes and singles, putting people together to keep the spacing right, and it worked. Good water features, greens in excellent condition, overall course condition was first rate. Hit every club in the bag, and thanks to my playing partner guide I avoided some unseen hazards. My playing partner also knew a lot of local history and I learned a lot about the Pechanga tribe and the area—we had one backup on the back nine due to a fairway maintenance project, which gave my new friend the chance to show me the Great Oak just off the 12th green, an amazing place (and absolutely off limits, but I figured it was okay with a tribe member showing me the site). So, all in all, a great day on a very well-maintained course with a great practice area, some great golf design holes, some beautiful holes and views, and then some odd and contrived holes on the hillside. Of the courses in the area, it now is my second favorite behind CrossCreek (which also has a few odd hillside holes). My guess is that pace of play is a real issue here when it is busy—Tues thru Thursday are probably the best days in terms of pace, and this is not really a course for “resort” golfers, but there are a lot of them playing and that likely often impacts pace. I look forward to a return visit. The Temecula area is now, for me, a rival to Palm Springs in terms of a place to go for a few days of good golf.
Enjoyed the Blues today as a single, off at 10–starter kindly saw I was putting and might be ready, invited me to go early to get ahead of potentially slow twosome with an earlier tee time than mine; smart and aware, not as common as it should be for guys who get paid to “start” players off. Finished in 3.25 hours, easily could have been 2:45 but I have some new irons and took some extra shots here and there to test wedges and the like. Really never saw anyone else all day except from a distance of several holes. Haven’t played here in some 12 years, was great to find it in such nice shape overall, and the routing and variation is really something to see—front nine is flatter and woodsier, back is very hilly and a bit more quirky. There is a vineyard in the middle of the course, and a lot of environmentally sensitive areas and a need for regular brush clearance on the edges of the course, but they keep up with that and it looks cared for, not scraggly. The grass range is not what it should be for a course this good, lousy targets, bumpy grass, no sand or chipping green despite room to have those—I like to practice, so a good practice facility is essential to my enjoyment, but it was passable and, again, is grass. Large practice putting green with some flat areas, always a bonus (should be required, but is rare). No cart service today. A very quiet clubhouse and pro shop—weekday yes, but still surprised this place is not way more busy, it deserves to be. Some roughed up tees, and the traps need beaucoup work (from thin to muddy), but the fairways are great, the greens roll true if not quite as fast as they should be, and there are some beautifully designed holes front and back, really good use of the topography, I used every club today. Some great vistas on the inward 9, and front 9 is very “Oregon.” Overall this is a terrific facility with nice staff and a reasonable rate and good pace of play and it beats Redhawk and Temecula Creek Inn easily, so is not to be missed when in the area—and worth a drive for its own virtues. I recommend it highly, especially the front 9.
Played Redhawk blues two weekdays this week, first time in 15 years. Course is showing its age, but they are spending money in the right places, fairways and greens, all in quite good shape. Very ragged around the edges, though, even the crumbling driveway and parking area set a ragged tone as you arrive. Range is all worn mats, plentiful targets, and oddly, three chipping greens but two are wildly undulating and not much use, one flat one at top of hill is easily missed but the best for practice. Nice practice putting green, mimics well the greens on course, which are not very tricky and roll slowly but fairly. Good tee choices, and an interesting layout and routing, challenging but not penal, little surprise trouble (though the first hole features a tricky first shot), but good water features and a locally famous island green par three that is quite fun and has very well maintained surrounds (unlike the rest of the course, where the attention is on the fairways and greens only). One oddity is starting and closing par 5’s on which you can’t hit driver. Fairly hilly, would be hard to walk this course but I did see several doing it. No GPS and not a lot of sprinkler heads, so bring your own measuring device. No beverage cart either day. One standout to me is the turf—even the fairways are po annua, so very tight-appearing lies but the turf is still quite receptive to well struck irons. The bunkers are undergoing work, so some are fine, others very thin. Greens are mostly protected by very deep grass surrounds and a lot of deep grass bunkers, chipping and pitching often quite challenging. Pretty busy both days, but decent pace at 4:15 each day in a threesome and twosome, in both instances they started me out alone and I caught up to others and joined. Very nice staff at check-in and starter podium, but they probably could do a better job of managing the tee sheet and starting times by putting more people together from the outset. With some extra spending on the edges, Redhawk could look as good as it plays, this is well worth a stop in the Temecula area and do t be put off by the ragged appearance.
First time Creek/Stonehouse combo on Friday 4/19/19 @ 10:30 with a single mid-handicap and a twosome of high handicaps. Very steady stream of threesomes and foursomes all morning, but pace was good despite some slow play by some in our group, especially on StoneHouse (more below); nobody pushing behind us until the last several holes. Creek made me wanna take off my shoes and play barefoot with a walking bag of a few clubs like when I was a kid—it’s picture should be in the encyclopedia under “resort course” in its worst connotation. Possibly the most boring course I ever have played that wasn’t a 9-hole muni. Great for a practice 9 holes to work on one thing or another, great for kids and beginners, and in fine shape, but flat and utterly devoid of character. If it went back to nature, the golf course indicators would disappear in a month. But then on to Stonehouse, which is basically an extremely hilly miniature golf course without the clown’s mouth. Almost every tee shot is blind, and some second shots as well, even on one or three par 4’s. Fortunately the other single knew his way around, else we would have been all over the place with even decent shots impossible to find. The contrast with Creek could not be more drastic. In slightly worse shape than Creek, but probably because even the grounds crew get lost out there. I found this almost not fun at all, if any golf can ever be not some level of fun. I like getting to know a course’s quirks, but one shouldn’t have to consult a map every time just to get direction. Even good shots well-aimed often are not rewarded, not due to bad bounces so much as just general topography that makes almost everything run way off one way or the other. It is sort of like Ojai Valley Inn on LSD, beyond quirky and just weird. What is worse is that the club actually lets beginners and kids who can enjoy Creek also play Stonehouse, which is borderline cruel to them and to more skilled golfers who might find something to like in getting to know Stonehouse—that is golf course operational and game-growth malpractice. Oaks 9 was closed for renovation, but from what I could see it was a lot more like Creek than Stonehouse, and I am told trees often obstruct the lines of play. It looks pretty flat. I have zero interest in finding out if it is a good 9. The range is mats and very ordinary. The starter was uninformative about either course, and lost track of a family threesome with a young child when they stopped for a full lunch after 9 and then just wandered out to Stonehouse to insert themselves into the existing lineup, causing an awkward delay that they, not the starter, remedied by being aware and nice about letting us go ahead. Overall conditions were good, greens quite good except even more than usual unfixed ball marks, always annoying but sadly endemic. Bunkers are soft dirt on top, hard clay underneath—no real
sand. I am happy to have tried the place out, I love the area and Old Town Temecula is a blast, and Greenskeeper reviews here gave me reasonable caution ahead of time, but there are way better offerings in this area and except for kids and beginners and a 9-hole tuneup for one’s approach shots or the like, for which Creek is perfect, there is scant reason to return and the other 9 holes could not possibly be good enough to make me give Stonehouse another look. The only good news is that I now know not to play here again.
I played the combo blue/white course twice this week, and the course plays longer than 6000 yards from this set of tees due to some serious hazard carries here and there, and several shortish par 4s that really tempt you but are very well protected. There is a lot of water, for any course let alone one in the desert, and the other principal feature is enormous bunkers, like everywhere. The fairways are wide but well bunkered and there are a fair amount of waste areas not difficult to find. Second shots are at a premium: good drives still leave you with very challenging approaches. Number 7 is a very long par 5 with a very difficult second or third shot (or both) over water—one of the best designed holes I ever have played, could take a long time to figure it out and one needs three excellent shots to reach the green in regulation. The short par 4s all are challenging, again especially on the second shot. The greens are, mercifully, not too undulating and thus a good approach and a good chip are rewarded, no tricks around or on the greens. The course also features one of the strangest par 3s I ever have seen, #11, not exactly over water but water runs all along the left side of a non-existent approach area with nothing but a waste area hill sloping up to the right from the water, you can barely see the green at all from the tee box—it’s kinda fun and pretty at the green with water around it, but it’s also weird, looks forced, I guess part of the redesign done to make room for a hotel basically in the middle of the back nine. The course has a fantastic practice area, huge grass range with good target distances and a large pretty flat practice putting green and a separate large chipping green and huge practice bunker. Range balls included in fair rack price. Overall course condition is excellent, but rough around a lot of edges due to work being done all over, especially on the back nine where a lot of landscaping is disrupted by the planned hotel and it leaves a ragged impression. Staff was very welcoming and efficient from the bag drop to the pro shop to the cart area. Lots of people in the restaurant, some clearly not golfing, so it must be good. Beverage cart seen 4 times a round. Pace of play in foursome both days was perfect—10 minutes between tee times meant two weekday rounds in a foursome with another both in front and behind (both days busy) that each took just over 4 hours, almost never waited to hit and basically never saw the group behind us either. Still, overall I have mixed emotions; I would play again for sure, but probably as a fallback when the location is convenient and other area courses are full. I would go here to practice anytime, possibly the overall best practice area I ever have seen. (I love a large relatively flat practice putting green. Why are so many so undulating? And it mimics the courses greens very well.)
This is perhaps the best run busy facility in the Southland. Heavy play on both courses, every day, but the pro shop runs this place like a well oiled machine. Pace of play sometimes a challenge because the courses are challenging and a wide range of skill levels play here—still tolerable. Mats only range, but great mats and lots of room, handy putting green and sand trap at range, short and medium yardages well marked, reasonable range ball prices and condition of balls. “Secret” short game practice area a short walk from clubhouse is a must visit; two greens with multiple targets, two bunkers, can almost hit a full lob wedge from one green to the other. Another nice practice putting green on the walk over—ask about short game area in pro shop. Zaharias course my favorite; a couple quirky holes but challenging and fun routing with a very long par 3, a par 5 with a hellish elevated green, a couple devilish par 4’s—2 holes on back 9 are nearly identical but every other hole is unique. Nice aesthetic water features pose manageable risk. Bunkers have gotten a little thin, and sometimes a few holes can be wet in the landing areas, but overall this course is in excellent condition for all the play it gets from golfers who don’t repair divots and ball marks. The main thing is that it is tree lined and has a fair amount of elevation change, being on a big hill—it has a very midwestern feel and differs substantially from most SoCal desert-like courses. Trust me, if you are making a trip east to play, this is where you want to go to tune up, get used to trees lining the way and blocking some shots. Excellent pro shop selections as well. Just an exceptionally run place for all the play and skill levels it sees. Really a must play in SoCal.
For a flat track that gets a lot of play, Angeles National as it has matured is an extremely well run fair, challenging, fun to play course in fine condition overall. It has an excellent grass practice range and large chipping green also useful for putting practice, unfortunately no practice bunker, but reasonable range ball rates and deals for regulars. Nice putting green by clubhouse, though could use a little more straight putt areas. Course has survived floods from the nearby Hansen Dam wash, and severe fire damage, with truly incredible grounds crew work—it comes back quickly and better every time, really impressive overall maintenance. Wide variance in holes, reasonably roomy off the tees but little margin for error on most edges, two reachable par 5’s if you play the right tees for your true distance, three long par 4’s, an excellent short par 4, great mix of par 3’s, no two holes look or play alike. Will use all your clubs, more irons and hybrids than fairway metals, driver on 11-13 of 14 holes so some strategic thinking required. No overseeding so fairways get brown and the lies are tight, but the turf condition is excellent. Green surrounds are lush. A few severe green slopes, but most of the undulation on the greens is gentle, no crazy humps; reads are fair, no tricks. Could be walked early weekdays or late afternoons, never too much of a trek between green and tee, but not really practical to walk. Environmental areas rarely in play for good players. Excellent pro shop and range service, really nice people run the place, nice clubhouse with good restaurant and decent snack shop. Plentiful ice for your cart in hot weather, no free water bottles but water on course; GPS and ice buckets on carts (no washer); adequate beverage cart service. They do most of the little things extremely well. Issues: Can get busy, esp weekends, and routing forces a couple backups so pace of play can frustrate at times. Ball marks on greens are a real problem throughout this course, don’t know why but a consistent issue. Bunker sand thin. But for a flat course with a lot of play, this is really an excellent place to practice and play and hang your handicap. A really fun course to learn over a few rounds, it’s rating and slope are right for the first timer but come down significantly when you learn the course. Owners and management take really good care of the place and of golfers of all stripes. If this were the only course I could ever play, I would be totally fine with that.
Played the blues today, first time at this course since the old Ocean Trails days with the missing 18th hole. 10 minutes between tee times. Twosome finished just under 4 hours behind another twosome, no empty tee times today but not all foursomes playing—very happy with pace. Best ocean views around, almost every hole. The course is in beautiful shape, and has outstanding sand quality in the bunkers (there are a lot). Front nine has a lot of very similar holes, not very interesting; back nine much greater variance and some very fun short holes. Very nice staff, locker room access, good parking, deluxe carts. Walking would be extremely difficult due to the elevation changes (not even sure it is allowed). Must drive straight; fairways not too narrow off the tee, but there is little room on the sides for error, usually means a lost ball. Greens are course’s best defense—very heavily tiered and undulating, getting away without a three putt or five is tough. Would be especially difficult in solid wind. NOTE: There is NO short game area as otherwise reported here, other than for lessons. A small bag of about 20 balls is free; large bag is $25, so expensive to practice here without one of their several deals for regulars. Good alternative to Pelican Hill, comparable in many respects, but not on interest and variety of holes. Would love another go at this course, could get used to its idiosyncrasies.
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