Pelican Hill Golf Club's Majestic Ocean South Course
Have you ever wanted to do something for so long that its been built up in your mind to be so fantastic, only to be let down by expecting too much from it after finally doing it? I'm happy to say that wasn't the case at all after my much-anticipated venture to Pelican Hill Golf Club.
Growing up in Orange County and playing many of the fine golf courses in the area, Pelican Hill was always somewhere I would someday be fortunate enough to play. That glorious day finally came.
Situated just off the Pacific Coast Highway on the exclusive Newport Coast of Orange County, this world class award winning facility has got to be the best golf experience I can recommend to anyone.
With a majestic setting and 36 holes of inspiring golf designed by famed architect Tom Fazio, a designer that turns all of his projects into classic layouts. If you've been lucky to have played any of his other triumphs around the world, you know what I'm talking about.
After warming up at the impressive practice facility, where you can take lessons, use demo equipment, or just hit range balls and putt on the finely manicured practice green, you're ready to start your round on the Ocean South Course.
The starter informed us that each golf cart is equipped with a state-of-the-art-computerized caddie that displays pinpoint accurate distances and useful information about every hole. It tells you everything except what club to hit and how to hit it.
A par 70 layout with five choices of teeing grounds ranging from 6,634 to 4,712 yards, we chose the championship tee at 6,274 yards, rated at 70.3 with a slope of 125. It proved to be quite a challenge indeed. With its thick Bermuda and sticky Kikuya grasses off the fairways and greens, accurate shot making really is a premium here.
Be prepared for some of the truest rolling Bent grass greens around. Just remember the golden rule, everything (supposedly) breaks to the ocean, although I think Mr. Fazio sometimes bent the rule a little.
Each hole on both courses is aptly named for certain characteristics you'll find while playing them, most are obvious, but some are found out the hard way!
• 1 - Long View, really prepares you for what's coming up, awesome scenery with immaculately maintained, challenging golf holes. At 428 yards, this gorgeous par 4 with its elevated tee down to a generous, rolling, tree lined fairway, back-dropped by the Pacific is a spectacular starting hole.
Your approach shot must be maneuvered slightly left through some Eucalyptus trees and up over the fine white sand bunkers, to the elevated, front-sloping, lightning fast green. Welcome to Pelican Hill!
• 2 - The Chute, is a narrow uphill, pine tree-lined 342 yard par 4. With a strategically placed fairway bunker on the right to tighten up your tee shot even more, this slight dog-leg right has a well protected green that can be very difficult to read.
• 3 - Fade'er, a severe dog-leg right 332 yard par 4, it can be tough to concentrate on golf standing on this green and looking out over the awesome panoramic view of the big blue (Pacific).
• 4 - Sudden Drop, the first par 3 at 143 yards can be deceiving. Your back faces the ocean and the green is down a slope towards the hills. With its false front, bunkers and large undulating green, use enough club to get back to the pin.
• 5 - Sidewinder, is a fun 335 yard par 4. For those who like to gamble, pull out the driver and hit your fade down the right angled fairway to shorten up your approach. Just make sure you hit it over the ravine and waste bunker that run the entire way to the green on the right.
• 6 - Cross Canyon, another par 4, this hole is 396 long yards uphill, watch out for the bunkers on the left, stay right for an easier approach on this narrowing fairway to the tight, undulating green. Par is a great score on this beauty.
• 7 - On The Rocks, after that last hole, I was ready for something on the rocks! This par 3 playing at 178 yards over a lake, wasn't what I needed as I hooked my ball into the trees on the left. At least I found it instead of dunking it into the water hazard that runs in front and up the right side of this green.
• 8 - The Alley, our first par 5, is 550 yards of tight pine-tree lined fairway that keeps getting tighter up to this front left bunkered green.
• 9 - Twisted Pine, the toughest hole on the course, is a challenge at 434 yards. This par 4 is straight away - just don't hook it (out of bounds left the whole way). Avoid those bunkers on the left of the fairway and make sure you get your ball up over the false front of this enormous green that has, I think, one of the tractors that built it, buried underneath it, to reach it in regulation and attempt to 2-putt.
• 10 - The Brute, a long uphill par 4 playing 440 yards, really lives up to its name. OB left again, keep it right, then down to a narrow green that is very difficult to negotiate. Welcome to the back nine!
• 11 - Ocean Bound, a 348 yard par 4 where you need to keep it left on the tee shot for an easier approach up to this wide, but shallow green. Short right is big trouble with deep pot bunkers and ankle deep sticky rough that can swallow a golf ball.
• 12 - Pelican's Nest, on the cart ride to this hole, stop and walk over to the left for a close-up view of Crystal Cove State Park and see the Pelicans fishing for a meal down below. Now you're ready for this 162-yard par 3 that seems so natural with the green carved into a worn sandstone bluff and the ocean down to the left.
• 13 - Double Trouble, another par 3, is quite unique with its twin greens. A shrub filled waste area splits the greens that are surrounded with trees and sand. The left side green was in play today and looked to be harder to get one close to the pin, since it was guarded by bigger pine trees, and that big water hazard (the Pacific) comes into play with a pulled left tee shot.
• 14 - Turning Home, a 516 yard par 5 that heads away from the ocean, plays straight away, keep it left and away from the bunker-riddled right side for a go to this green in two!
• 15 - Deep Canyon, this 385 yard par 4, slides to the right, so stay left between the fairway bunkers to give a better angle up to this side-hill green with deep bunkering and a ravine running down the right side.
• 16 - Lone Tree, at 208 yards, into the ocean breeze and over a canyon, making a 3 here should delight anyone. Don't miss this green or you'll probably need to dig for another ball with all the trouble right and left.
• 17 - Entrapment, the second par 5 on the back nine, plays 547 yards and is a true three shot hole. Favor the left side away from the sand traps right on this rolling up and down fairway. The green surrounded by sand traps is a fairly small target, so use your best course management and lay up to avoid a large number.
• 18 - Double Cross, what an incredibly strong finishing hole to a classic golf course. This 418-yard par 4 crosses that infamous canyon twice. The fairway veers left for your tee shot that must clear the canyon that runs up the left side and then runs down below the right of the elevated side-hill green. With the elegant pro shop and clubhouse towering above, this is one memorable golf hole, beautiful and extremely challenging.
This is a top-notch operation owned by the Irvine Co. and managed by Western Golf Properties, Inc. The courteous staff is there to make your visit to Pelican Hill a memorable one. The enormous pro shop is stocked with everything from a vast array of the latest fashions to high-tech golf equipment.
After your round, relaxing in the beautiful clubhouse or on the scenic terrace for lunch and cocktails, you'll be treated as if you're a long-time member of an exclusive private country club.
You might want to try a twilight-rate round and be treated to one of the most fantastic golden orange sunsets you can imagine. Take my word for it, if you're a local or coming to visit, don't wait any longer to get this true golfing experience. You won't be disappointed. With Newport and Laguna Beaches nearby and all they have to offer, a trip to this dynamic Southern California golf destination will be unforgettable!
For rates and other information, contact Pelican Hill Golf Club at (949) 760-0707 or check out their Web site at pelicanhill.com
Pelican Hill Golf Club
22651 Pelican Hill Road South
Newport Coast, CA 92657