PGA of Southern California Golf Club

By Tom LaMarre, Contributor

Beaumont, CA - When the PGA of Southern California commissioned Schmidt-Curley Design Inc. of Phoenix to build two golf courses, it asked that they be relatively equal in beauty and degree of difficulty.

Mission accomplished.

The Champions and Legends courses, which have been open since the summer of 2000 at the PGA of Southern California Golf Club in Beaumont, are both of masterpiece quality.

"It's almost exactly 50-50 in preference by our customers," said Scott Wilson, Head Professional at the club. "There are some who prefer the Champions course and others who prefer the Legends. But there hasn't been anybody who just wants to play one and not the other.."

"I'd say we got exactly what we asked for..."

The Champions is a traditional-style course that measures 7,377 yards from the back tees, while the Legends is a links course that stretches to 7,442 yards, but there are six sets of tees that include a beginners loop of under 4,000 yards on each course.

The club also includes a state-of-the-art teaching and practice center with a double-ended driving range, and a short-game area that includes putting and chipping greens in addition to sand traps which simulate the bunkering unique to each course.

"This is the realization of a 25-year dream; to own and operate our own golf course," said Tom Gustafson, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the SCPGA, at the club's grand opening.

"When we sold the PGA Golf Show eight years ago, we started to look around for a site. We are very fortunate Oak Valley Partners provided us with this ground without fee so we could build this great golf club."

Now the 34,000-square-foot clubhouse, built in the Spanish-mission style, has been completed and next year, ground will be broken for new headquarters of the Southern California Section of the PGA, now housed in Brea.

But the focus will be on golf, and since the PGA is a teaching organization, golf instruction.

The SCPGA has handed the responsibility of overseeing the club to Jeff Johnson, Director of Golf, formerly Head Pro at Steele Canyon in Jamul.

"There were a couple of things we wanted to accomplish in building this club," Johnson said. "We wanted to create an atmosphere where we could share the story of the PGA of America and to provide the people of this area and Southern California a facility that would embellish the community. We've accomplished those two objectives."

"The golf courses fit the terrain so beautifully, they look like they've been here for years. Schmidt and Curley utilized the natural terrain and landscape beautifully. This is truly an inspired creation.."

The SCPGA is the first section in the nation to own and operate its own golf facility.

The golf is first-rate with no gimmicks other than the Batman bunker on the first hole of the Champions course, which, of course, is named after the Caped Crusader.

Finding a signature hole might be a problem because there isn't a mediocre one among the 36. But here are a few holes worth mentioning.

The fourth hole of the Champions, a 562-yard par five from the Tour tee, is called Split Decision because the fairway is divided by a creek running through a gully. Bigger hitters can take the short way to the left but must carry natural terrain and the creek. Even the right is no picnic because the creek awaits about 100 yards from the smallest green on the course, which is guarded by three deep bunkers.

No. 7 of the Champions, called Tree House, is an uphill 468-yard par four with a bunker in the center of the fairway in the driving area, although from the tee it appears to be on the right. Three more bunkers await at the left side of the green, which slopes from the back left to front right. Though it plays uphill, the approach is usually downwind and there is plenty of bail-out room to the right.

The 11th hole, called Climbing, is the longest on the course at 607 yards at the tips and plays uphill. Although the hole appears to be straight, the first shot should be placed a bit right and the second left because of strategic bunkering.

No. 13, called Moonscape, plays only 380 yards from the back tee and is one of the most fun holes on either layout. It provides a risk-reward situation for even high-handicappers who are adventurous enough to try to drive the green, or get close, across a barranca with a creek running through it. If you play it safe and hit a lay-up drive before crossing, there is a bunker in the middle of the fairway and six bunkers short of the green on the approach.

The 15th hole, called Bird, has a target green 230 yards away with plenty of room on the right side. While you're there, take a gander at the bird sanctuary on the left.

On the Legends Course, the second hole is called Hopscotch because there are three distinct hitting areas on the way to the green on the 590-yard par five. The drive will be a lay-up for some, who might then go for the green. But shorter hitters will want to place the second shot on an island fairway to the left before an approach over the creek for a second time to a green guarded by two deep bunkers.

The fourth hole, called Lookout, is at the highest point of the property, which is surrounded by the San Bernardino, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountains. The hole is only 153 yards at its longest but the tee shot must carry a canyon to a large, undulating green guarded by four bunkers.

The most delightful stretch of either course is probably Nos. 7 through 9 on the Legends, starting with a 517-yard par five called Enchanted, a dogleg left through a forest of lush oak and vine growth with a meandering stream.

No. 8, called Sanctuary, is a 193-yard par three over a large lake in another wooded area, and No. 9, called Rail, runs parallel to railroad tracks running alongside the course. Trains pass by regularly. The tee shot on the 407-yard par four is wide open but a large oak tree on the left and a bunker on the right protect the green.

Both finishing holes wrap around a large lake.

No. 18 on the Champions is called Seven Sisters because of the bunkers on the right side of the fairway. Play it safe but beware of the lake on the left. The safe approach is away from the lake to the front right of a long green.

The lake is to the right on No. 18 of the Legends course, a 465-yard par four called Reflection. The green is more accessible if you can drive over a large bunker on the left side of the fairway and it helps that the hole usually plays downwind. If you are on the right, there is plenty of room on the left front of the green, but a bunker awaits if you go a little long.

Before and after you'll find everything you need in the clubhouse.

"This is a wonderful finishing touch to the golf courses," Johnson said. "The clubhouse will also allow us to provide a lot of social activities not necessarily germane to golf.."

"And for the people who do come here to play golf, it will provide all the amenities that will complete a wonderful experience at the club."

In addition to a 3,000-square-foot pro shop, the clubhouse includes men's and women's locker room with lounge areas, indoor and outdoor dining areas, plus a cocktail lounge, a club repair and fitting shop, golf bag storage area and a learning center.

Johnson is most enthusiastic about the club-fitting shop.

"It's really an exciting concept," he said. "We will be able to do some unique, wonderful work here. It's a full-service area. 'Someone can come in and be fitted for clubs, we can make modifications on them, and then they can make a seamless transition to the practice and teaching area and to the golf courses.."

For the beginner or the pro, and every golfer in between, the SCPGA has all the bases covered.

PGA of Southern California Golf Club
361211 Champions Drive
Beaumont, CA 92320
Phone: 877- PGA-2500

Tom LaMarre, Contributor

Tom LaMarre has been a sportswriter and copy editor in California for parts of five decades, including 15 years with the Oakland Tribune and 22 with the Los Angeles Times.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • review

    adam wrote on: Jan 4, 2010

    would you suggest playing one of these courses or neighboring Oak Valley?