A passion for golf history at The Legends Golf Club in Temecula
The Legends Golf Club runs a good show at a fine price and is aware of the game's greats of the past and clientele of the present. It's an affordable course with challenges more pronounced than one might expect.
TEMECULA, Calif. -- With all its history and etiquette and lifestyle, golf is still very much a retail game, and one that savvy operators understand as a business pertaining as much to their course as to their customers.
"Our hospitality is key, and everybody in our golf shop [has] graduated from the Professional Golfers Career College," said The Legends Golf Club owner Dr. Tim Somerville, a champion of the game's history who concurrently owns and teaches at his nearby golf school. "So, we train them and pick out the people with the best personalities. You've been to those golf shops where the guy won't even look you in the face. That drives me absolutely nuts."
At The Legends Golf Club in Temecula, the impassioned brass gets it. Sure, akin to The Legends, many courses and resorts dot their grounds with images and homage honoring the game's lore, but this place counts among the rare locales that know the importance of connecting past to present.
When Somerville took over The Legends in 2011, he bought the former Temeku Hills course, which had fallen into disrepair amid this residential community. In the years since, the good doctor and his crew have steadily worked to rejuvenate the 1995 Ted Robinson design (with a rework by Perry Dye), placing extra onus on smooth, speedy greens.
The resulting play is an affordable course with challenges more pronounced than one might expect. And though such an unanticipated test may not have actually been challenged by the luminaries that grace the course scorecard (and awesome website), days of more recent yore have seen myriad junior stars take on these grounds, including Rickie Fowler, Brendan Steele and Sydnee Michaels.
Aim high and let if fly
While not burly in distance at 6,547 yards from the tips, The Legends does require some luminary ball flight when it comes to attacking ongoing, uphill greens matched with naturally cambered landing areas.
"You'll get lots of different types of lies on our fairways. You really need to place the ball well here," said Lou Skovron, director of golf at The Legends. "It's a shorter course, it's a sporty course, it's a tough course. But I think that everybody can play here. A 30-handicapper, after playing here even once, they'll find that they score here better the second time around."
Scoring involves continued study of extra-clubbing to attack green structures that are well-elevated throughout; adding to the test is the design feature of green fronts that generally angle away from putting surfaces and steer toward well bunkered green surrounds.
"And the par 3s can play very tough out here," Somerville said. "They could be brutal if we moved them back another 20 yards."
The challenge begins from the near outset at the top-handicapped, 409-yard, par-4 second with a dogleg left preceding a massive uphill approach to a green sporting front bunkers to either side.
The fun is furthered will little let-up on the ensuing 198-yard third, which places the course theme in play with another tough uphill elevation charge.
Back-to-back par 5s ensue, with the latter presenting a curving (if not curious) path to the guarded green.
"No. 5 is a real challenge and real interesting hole," Skovron says. "Dogleg right, and it's kinda fun to figure out what club to hit so you're short of the bunker straightaway. Then you've got an 'L-shape' coming up to the green and you'll need to figure out something with your second to get within 150 yards to get over the water."
Three holes later, the dearth of distance on the eighth doesn't discount Robinson's signature water.
"The eighth is a short hole, but with the water in front of the green," Skovron said. "Some big hitters go for that green, but most people lay-up, and then have a wedge to a double-decker green, and the pin can be placed in some interesting spots there."
Rounding the corner, the getable 10th can be had with a sound, studied tee shot down the left.
"The 10th is one of my favorites, and I named it for one of my favorite golfers, Arnold Palmer," Somerville says. "You can get in some trouble there. It seems like such an easy hole, but you get out there off the tee and you're 150 yards in, then you're playing with the water, because that hazard comes in so close. And with a front pin there, you're dead trying to get it close. You play deep in that green with a front pin, you're in real trouble with a front pin because it really slopes down there."
The 400-yard, par-4 12th presents another massive uphill battle to a testy, three-tiered green before the par-5 follower leaves the newcomer guessing at the box.
"Yeah, there's some blind faith from the tee," Skovron says, smiling. "But when you look at no. 13 from your second shot, it's such a beautiful, natural golf hole and reminds me of classic U.S. Open-type courses. There's water right and bunkers by the green, but there's still room to work on that second shot."
The Legends Golf Club: The verdict
Playing with some surprising teeth for a course of its ilk, The Legends runs a good show at a fine price and proves keenly aware of both the game's greats of the past and clientele of the present.
"I like it; for the price it's really good and it's just a very clean, overall operation they run here," said Chris Mayville, a local high-handicapper. "Lots of elevation changes with hazards, and each hole out here feels different. And with the elevated shots out here, it's deceiving and you have to have more club than you'd think."
February 10, 2016