Pristine golf provides escape for city dwellers at CrossCreek Golf Club in Temecula, California
TEMECULA, Calif. -- The Temecula Valley has blossomed over recent years, with what used to be a scattering of homes among vineyards and horse ranches now a major city comprised of subdivisions, shops, restaurants and golf. Great golf, actually, infused with California heritage and the newness of a continually growing city.
CrossCreek Golf Club is one property that has managed to maintain its old Rancho California roots while allowing golfers to escape the city life for the quiet of the country.
The Arthur Hills design that opened in 2001 is located at the end of Rancho California Road, on a ride that takes visitors past vineyards, through oak and sycamore groves, and by yellow "cow crossing" street signs.
As such, CrossCreek takes players away from the chaos for a round that's all about nature -- amazingly, less than five miles from Old Town Front Street and the tourist attractions of the area.
"We are a destination course," CrossCreek Director of Golf Dave Garner said. "We have lots of trees, lots of peace and quiet; we'll get local golfers here as well as those escaping from Orange County and other areas."
At only an hour from both the San Diego and Los Angeles areas, CrossCreek is a convenient destination course and one that may become more common after a round of solitude and satisfaction.
CrossCreek Golf Club: The golf
One of the first things golfers will notice upon stepping foot on CrossCreek's golf course is that the layout -- the entire thing -- is devoid of homes.
It's a welcome respite from the majority of the area's other courses, which are often the center point to subdivisions or have houses lining the fairways. It also plays into CrossCreeks tagline of "Pristine Golf," because -- well -- it is.
"There's something about just being me and the golf course out here that's really refreshing," said Glen Greene, of Murrieta. "It's nice to get away from the noise and the neighborhoods, and it's a good test of golf to boot."
That test of golf adds up to 6,853 yards from the back tees -- not the longest layout in the area but certainly one of the more thought provoking. After driving over a wooden bridge to reach the first tee, the scene is set for what the next 18 holes have in store: fairways lined with old oak and sycamore trees and foliage; fairways that are more generous than appear from the tees but still don't allow for much leeway from hittable rough; and fairway and green conditions that rival a private country club.
"CrossCreek has a reputation as a target golf course," Garner said. "The key is to choose the right tee box for your ability, as there are ravine carries on four holes that require some skill to get over."
In addition to ravines, golfers cross several creeks en route to the hole, while navigating sloping fairways and more than a couple doglegs. The first five holes of CrossCreek border Sycamore Creek, adding more than a little challenge if golfers tend to hit the ball to the right.
The par-4 first hole is a dogleg right with an open fairway, while golfers will encounter their first par-3 hole early, on three -- one of the course's four, picturesque, par-3 layouts, which requires a downhill tee shot to a green set in the hillside and flanked by trees on the right and left.
Those that love a great water hole will be captivated by the 460-yard, par-4 ninth -- although the green is flat an inviting, it is guarded by a lake to the left and bunkers to the right. It is the target golf the course is known for but is highly rewarding with two solid shots to reach the green in regulation.
While the front nine weaves golfers in and out of the tree groves, the back nine is known for its many elevation changes. The par-4 11th hole is steep and requires a shot favoring a sloping right-to-left fairway.
The 13th hole, at 403 yards, begins with a straight, downhill tee shot with a big carry to a flat landing area before trekking slightly back up to a green that can reward with a birdie opportunity. The crown jewel on the back is the par-3 17th hole, though: a downhill tee shot that plays over Sycamore Creek to an elevated green and allows little room for anything but a straight tee shot. It's the signature hole of the course for good reason, not just its looks.
CrossCreek Golf Club: The verdict
It's something special when the country road to the course excites golfers for what's to come, and with the first swing of the club, their good decision is validated.
In addition to great course conditions, CrossCreek Golf Club provides a playable challenge from any tee box that makes for a rewarding round. Traffic white noise is replaced by the sounds of water babbling in Sycamore Creek, birds chirping and roadrunners poking around in the brush.
Tee boxes are marked with golf-related quotes from course architects and designers to inspire and provide perspective. A complete practice facility -- including turf range, practice bunkers and greens -- helps work out the kinks before or after a round. And CrossCreek Grille, located in the craftsman-style clubhouse, makes for an ideal 19th hole with its indoor and patio seating.
In all, CrossCreek is an ideal getaway for the local and visitor alike. But beware -- it's likely that thanks to the escape it provides, you will make a return trip or two sooner rather than later.
July 2, 2013