California's Pelican Hill Golf Club: Masterpiece Fazio course is a coveted round of golf
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- The Tom Fazio designed Pelican Hill Golf, regarded as Orange County's premier place to practice and play golf, delivers all that the master architect's reputation commands. Located here are two masterpieces:, the North and South Ocean Courses - 36 holes, all with majestic and picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean.
Perhaps only second in California to Pebble Beach, Pelican Hill is definitely the most coveted round of golf in southern California. Beginning in 1991, the Ocean South Course opened to rave reviews immediately. By combining both imposing canyons and intimidating pines, these 18 holes require varied shotmaking to be successful, while never failing to mesmerize with shear beauty alone.
A Par 70, the Ocean South challenges from the Gold tees at more than 6,600 yards with a slope of 130, but the beginning and novice players will still have the day of a lifetime from the red and yellow tees, at 5,400 and 4,723 yards, respectively. Just after opening, the Ocean South earned Golf Digest's First Place-Best New Resort Course, and in February '92 Golf Magazine named it in the Top Ten New Resort Courses in America.
Two years following the instant impact and success of the Ocean South, Fazio's second achievement, the Ocean North, opened to equally resplendent reviews. Also garnering Golf Magazine's Top Ten List, the Ocean North landed Golf Digest's Fourth Place-Best New Resort Course.
Moderately more difficult and lengthy that its counterpart, the North's Gold Tees measure better than 6,800 yards, but providing opportunity for the novice, with Red and Yellow tees covering 5,800 and 4,950 yards respectively.
The Ocean North Course, from the Championship Blue tees, opens with a 489 yard Par 5, with an open landing area, but narrows significantly closer to the hole. If you are Fred or Davis, then no problem, but for the typical player a forgiving first fairway is just what the doctor ordered, especially after just getting conned into $5 skins and Nassau.
The tee shot is slightly uphill to a wide Bermuda fairway that lets slide all but the worst hooks or slices. The second shot requires precision and accuracy, whether going the 240 plus to the green, or just a smooth 7 iron, leaving a 90-yard approach wedge. Birdie is possible with an accurate approach, but the green undulates and the Penncross Bent grass breaks subtly in places and dramatically in others, and generally toward the ocean.
The Par 3 second, appropriately entitled "Postage Stamp" is a downhill 180-yard 5 iron that if pulled slightly finds a sculptured white sand bunker. Right or short disappears with the wild rabbits in the canyon leading up to the green. The green itself is large, so unless you are close off the tee par is ideal. Number three is a 380-yard downhill Par 4 that appears deceivingly open and inviting, but again narrows approaching the bunker-guarded green.
The seventh and, number one handicap, the 450 yard "Canyon Edge," most epitomizes the design and spirit of the Ocean North Course. As much length as possible is required off the tee. A pot bunker splits the fairway 220 yards out, and if found bogey will be the best result.
Once successfully in the fairway, only half the work is done, because the second shot requires tremendous accuracy. Out of bounds looms left and on the right is a deep arroyo, leading to more out of bounds. The green is guarded by bunkers and slopes back to front. Too many subtle breaks foil long putts, and even short putts are steered awry by the grain. Once holed out run to the eighth tee!
The back nine holes continue the pleasing theme. Number 10, entitled "Rip It," invites a long, aggressive tee shot. Number 11, with the prevailing wind can be reached with a long drive, otherwise a 5 wood or long iron is prudent. Nine iron should be the longest approach to this guarded green. Here's one on which to get a shot back! The first Par 3 on the back nine, "Solitude," is a stern test of confidence. At 200 yards uphill, and back into the wind, only the longest hitters can use an iron; most utilize a fairway wood. These longer clubs are difficult to control and land near the hole, so Par is excellent here.
The Par 5 17th arguably is the most beautiful on the course. Confidence and length are a must! A long tee shot is required to have a hope on this 543-yard dogleg right. The corner is better than 150 yards from the front of the green, and just getting there requires two precise shots, the second with a long iron. The third shot faces the ocean and the breeze, while the entire right side falls off a hill, first into deep bunkers, then into the canyon. A wide open sand wedge back up to the green could be salvation prior to the finishing hole.
Number 18 is called "Double Down," because of the huge gamble. The tee shot is over a steep gully down to the landing area, and must be long and straight to have the shortest iron possible into the green. Too far brings into play the fairway bunker guarding the top most corner of the dogleg, making par almost impossible.
The approach is the second part of the "Down." An accurate downhill iron over a tree-filled canyon to a well protected and sloping green. A miss may find the deep bunker that is totally obscured from the fairway. Cross your fingers!.
Once completed, generous and kind attendants are waiting to clean your clubs and return them to the valet out front. Before leaving, however, the staff will point the way to The Clubhouse restaurant for post round cocktails. Reservations can be made in the award winning golf shop up to 60 days in advance for your next 18 holes.
Year round tournaments can also be scheduled through director Lynn Davis in the Tournament/Marketing office. (Hole-in-One insurance is also available for your tournament, just in case!) Beautiful Santa Barbara architecture encloses The Clubhouse. Inside the knowledgeable staff is waiting to cater your next event. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served either indoors or out, both with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
Pelican Hill's award winning practice and teaching center are second to none. Located ¼ mile from the course, 1996 SCPGA Teacher of the Year Glenn Deck and his staff of PGA and LPGA professionals provide many avenues for improving your game, from 3 day VIP schools, including two rounds of golf, to simply private lessons with the pro of your choice.
Large and small bags of range balls allow a warm up before teeing off, and if such a thing as forgetting your golf bag is possible, Callaway Big Bertha irons and woods are available as the rental clubs! When visiting Orange County be sure to make reservations at the Four Seasons, Fashion Island, or the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point, for both hotels are affiliated with the Pro Shop.
For a top to bottom professional experience Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach is the pinnacle of golf destinations. Upon arrival the valet begins the first class treatment by placing your golf bag on a clean cart and parking your car.
The starter and pro shop personnel continue by getting you to the tee as efficiently and quickly as possible, and snack carts are positioned discreetly all over both courses providing needed energy. Start to finish Pelican Hill is indeed the preeminent golfing destination.
April 6, 1999