Temecula: Golf in the City of The Sun

By Matt Paulson, Contributor

Temecula Creek InnTEMECULA, Calif. - The city of Temecula, a beautiful golf escape on the south end of Southern California's Inland Empire, about halfway between Ontario and San Diego, is a cool escape in an otherwise toasty region.

Temecula, which comes from the Luiseno Indian word "Temecunga" - "temet" meaning sun and "-ngna" meaning "place of" - has a mild Mediterranean climate that is accented by the cool winds that sweep through Rainbow Gap from the Pacific Ocean, which keep summer temperatures consistently lower than surrounding areas, providing for a refreshing ocean-esque getaway not tainted by the dense coastal population.

The warm, sun-drenched, dry days and cool California nights have made Temecula a great place for a little golf and wine. Depending on how you play, it may be a little bit more of the latter and a little bit less of the former. But that's between you and your liver.

The first must-play of Temecula is Redhawk Golf Course on 45100 Redhawk Parkway. Ranked 7th in difficulty by "California Golf Magazine," Redhawk was designed by Ron Fream and Mark O'Meara. For the serious golfer, the practice facility boasts sand bunkers and an all-grass practice tee, which, in a region where dirt-encrusted mats have apparently become all the rage at practice facilities, is a welcome sign. And the 34,000 square-foot, undulating putting green is pretty nice too. So if you're looking to actually practice, or if you feel inclined to lose a few bucks to your buddies before the round, Redhawk's putting green is the place to do either.

Redhawk Golf Course Once you're actually out on the course, it is a difficult jaunt. This target-style course not only begs accuracy with the majority of tees lined by some sort of trouble - out of bounds, vegetation, four lakes, sand and grass bunkers - but it also requires length as the Tournament tees measure around 7,180 yards. Now, if you would like to take your medicine, swallow your pride - and/or maybe a few drinks - I suggest you put your tail between your legs and try either the championship tees (6,755 yards) or even the regulars (6,310 yards). It will prove much less taxing on your blood pressure. If not, I salute you. Good luck from the tips, JD.

Be sure to take in No. 8. This signature hole, measuring 165 yards, is a 40-foot drop from the tee to an island green. And while you're lamenting your misclub, revel in the fact that it only cost you $38 to play this track because you came on a Monday through Friday after 1 p.m. Rates increase from there, but not that much. The regular Monday through Friday rate is $48, while the weekend and holiday damage is $68 ($48 after 1 p.m.), all including carts.

To go for some stay n' play, check out the Temecula Creek Inn at 44501 Rainbow Canyon Road. The course consists of three nines - Stonehouse, Oak and Creek - designed by Ted Robinson and Dick Rossen. The Stonehouse, which was designed by Robinson, is the newest of the three. The Creek is rather benign, and the Oak is tree-lined and a shotmaker's course. All three combinations range from about 5,600 yards to 6,700 yards, depending on your tees of choice. I would recommend playing Stonehouse/Oak, but send Johnny McHacker over to the Creek Course. If you don't, you know he's going to be bugging you all day. Better yet, make him stay in the room and watch Oprah.

With such a wide array of options on the three nines, Temecula Creek can satisfy most levels of play, as well as individual tastes. Speaking of tastes, because this is a resort and there is no need to drive back to your hotel, don't miss out on the various wines the region has to offer (temeculawines.org). Check out jcgolf.com/temecula.htm for various rates and golf packages.

If you have time and want something a tad easier, Robinson also left his imprint on Temeku Hills Golf Course, a public track that was built in 1995 and is located at 41687 Temeku Drive. It is much more forgiving for Johnny McHacker, as it is known for wide fairways, but bring your short game. The undulating bent grass greens will indeed bring a challenge to this shotsprayers' paradise. The tips measure 6,522 yards, and the shortest tees are just 5,139 yards, so you can basically be a little shorter and little less accurate and be OK. However, it was updated by Dye, so five lakes come into play, and Dye is notorious for catching you when you're not looking, so there is some cause for concern. That break-80 performance you've been looking for might just have to wait until next weekend.

Southern California Golf Association Members' Club If you're not much of a golfer, and you're just looking for an excuse to sweat off that hangover, check out Rancho del Cielo Golf Course at 35010 Santa Rita Road. This par 65 only measures 4,180 yards from the back tees and uses Cayman balls. There are 10 greens that are played from different angles to achieve a full 18 holes. Green fees are under $20 and are good for all-day play.

If you don't mind traveling out of Temecula, the Southern California Golf Association Members' Club is located at 39500 Robert Trent Jones Parkway in Murrieta about 10-15 miles away. The tees measure from 7,000 yards down to 5,300 yards, and the back tees have a rating of 74.6. Green fees, as well as specials, are available at scgamembersclub.com. You can also become an SCGA member to slash the prices.

Where to stay

To stay near Redhawk, the Pechanga Resort and Casino is only about a mile and a half away. That way, if you feel that you didn't gamble enough cash on the course, you can throw some more away here. Check it out at pechanga.com.

To stay at Temecula Creek Inn, check out temeculacreekinn.com or call (877) 517-1823.

Where to eat

There is pretty much every type of food located in Temecula, as it is a relatively isolated tourist-thirsty incorporated area. If you're really hungry after your round, or you need some hearty proportions to break down some extra alcohol, try Claim Jumper at the corner of Rancho California and Ynez about 10 minutes from Redhawk. The proportions are massive. You do not have to call ahead to make reservations, but if you're lonely and just want to chat with someone, the number is (909) 694-6887. But I can't promise they'll talk.

Matt PaulsonMatt Paulson, Contributor


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