Great Courses at Unusually Great Prices in Temecula

Temecula has always been a nice little hotbed of golf. A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed an excellent double-play deal at Journey at Pechanga. This weekend, I took advantage of some more unusually great deals in one of my favorite SoCal golf destinations.

Redhawk Golf Club • Temecula, CA • 9/14/13

It hasn’t been too long since I played here. In fact, I was out at Redhawk last December reconnecting with one of my favorite SoCal courses. Unfortunately, the weather was a little ugly that day and the course was definitely not looking its prettiest in the midst of winter, but I’ll always enjoy the layout here.

The reason I returned to Redhawk so soon was because I got an email from them a couple weeks ago letting me I had won one of their monthly email list drawings. The prize: a “free” foursome that could be used any day and any time in September. I put the word “free” in quotes because the green fees were free, but we did still have to pay $15 for carts. Either way, it was too good a deal to pass up, so I gathered up three of my golf buddies and we met up there Saturday morning.

I had booked a 7:48 tee time and the check in went without a hitch. I watched as the guy marked my name on a pretty long list of this month’s email winners, so it seems they are pretty generous with this great prize. I think it’s a win-win. The players get a deal that’s hard to resist and the course still gets a little money for the carts and can make more for concessions, pro shop purchases and range balls.

If you want to read my previous review of Redhawk, you can find that link here.

I do enjoy this layout a lot. The setting is a bit more “residential” than I prefer, but that’s a very minor quibble. Otherwise, the design offers a lot of diversity and plenty of challenge. There’s a wide variety of hole designs that enable you to use every club in your bag and several sets of tee boxes that allow you to play to an overall length you are comfortable with.

The greens are always the highlight at Redhawk as they feature a lot of undulation and dramatic “shelves” to contend with. As is the goal on many courses, you are definitely best off staying below the hole here. The most notable shelving comes on the 4th and 14th holes. The 4th is a short, uphill par-3 with a crazy four-tiered green complex that’s always entertaining. The 14th has a massive shelf dividing the front and back halves of the green.

As noted in my previous review, the par-3s at Redhawk are always a treat. After this visit, I’m pretty confident in saying this course features the best full set of par-3s in Southern California—at least as far as courses I’ve played. The 4th is fun, as noted. The 8th, with its large island green complex and Augusta-esque bridge, is both intimidating and beautiful. The 12th features a different sort of island green surrounded by a large waste bunker. And, last but not least, the 17th is one of my favorite holes anywhere with a gorgeous view of the valley below. I think any of these four great par-3s would qualify as the “signature hole” at most any other course, but Redhawk has four of them!

Redhawk was also in much better shape this time than last. With bermuda as its base, it holds up well during the hot summer months. It was very wet and soggy early on as they applied plenty of water overnight, but once it dried out it looked and played pretty nicely. There were plenty of dry/brown spots here and there, but the grass stays nice and fluffy. I was in the rough more than usual Saturday. I got some good lies and some terrible lies, so it was a mixed bag.

The greens were very, very nice overall. They were soft and receptive on approaches, but smooth on putts. They didn’t seem as lightning quick as I’ve experienced in the past here, but still fairly quick and hard to read with all the tricky slopes and undulations. I wasn’t in a bunker (other than the waste bunker on 12, which didn’t go well), so I can’t really comment on the sand traps.

I played terribly—my worst round of the year, in fact—but still couldn’t help but enjoy the Redhawk layout, solid conditions, great camaraderie, and of course, the incredible $15 price tag! Even though I get way too many emails from courses, every once in awhile it pays off.

Some pictures from Redhawk Golf Club (9/14/13):

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For my second round, I ventured out on my own to take care of some unfinished business…

Temecula Creek Inn Golf Course • Temecula, CA • 9/14/13

The only other time I played at Temecula Creek Inn was quite a few years ago. I’ve considered it “unfinished business” ever since, though, because there are 27 holes here and until this weekend, I had only played 18 of them. As I work toward my quest of playing all the public regulation courses in Southern California, having one nine of a 27-hole facility unplayed always lingers in the back of my mind. There are a few others like this out there, so it will be a priority to ultimately play those remaining nines.

The funny thing is it had been so long since I played at TCI that I wasn’t 100% sure which nine I had left. There’s Oaks, Creek and Stone House. I knew for sure I had played Stone House before. For some reason, I thought it was Oaks I hadn’t played.

So when I saw a GolfNow time at 2:07 for $45 specifically listing the Creek/Oaks combo, I knew that was the right afternoon round option for me—even though I was aware they were aerating the Oaks nine thanks to Greenskeeper.org.

I got there a bit early and was pleasantly surprised when they only charged me $35. However, when I checked in with the starter, he told me I was playing Creek and then Stone House. He then told me Oaks was closed for the next few weeks for aeration and other annual maintenance. I almost flipped out, but the price was still so good I decided to roll with it.

Though it was relatively busy out there with a bunch of scattered groups on the course, they sent me off as a single and I headed to the first tee on Creek. Quickly I realized this was, in fact, the nine I hadn’t yet played and all was right with the world at that moment! I was stuck between plenty of groups all day and the pace was a bit slow having to play as a single (especially on a very hot afternoon) before I ultimately joined a threesome for much of the back nine. Either way, I can’t complain about the pace as it was still under four hours total.

With my unfinished business taken care of, I was able to relax and enjoy the round even more. I really liked the course when I played there previously and I enjoyed it plenty on Saturday. Now that I have played all three nines, I will say Creek is definitely the least interesting in my opinion. I remember liking Oaks much more. Creek is pretty straightforward without any changes in elevation. It’s a nice “parkland” kind of layout with tree-lined fairways and not too much trouble to get into in the form of hazards.

I remember Oaks having some more character, but it’s been so long I can’t really go into any detail. Stone House stands out the most here as the newest of the three nines. It’s kind of its own thing, though, so I’m not sure how well it flows with either of the other two.

Stone House is very hilly, pretty tight in places and features some quirky hole designs that some people might not care for. There are plenty of uncomfortable tee shots and somewhat blind angles to contend with. At the same time, it is very pretty and dramatic using the natural landscape for visual appeal and contour. Creek/Oaks is probably a more traditional combination that fits together more naturally as a classic 18-hole layout. However, Stone House is the nine you’ll likely remember most.

Both Creek and Stone House sit right next to the busy I-15 freeway, which does detract a little bit from the nice overall setting. Still, the Inn and courses retain a pretty secluded feeling throughout.

Temecula Creek Inn was in good overall shape. The Stone House nine seemed a bit better overall. Though a bit dried out in some areas, the fairways and rough were mostly consistent and lies were generally good. The greens were in good shape overall, but the surfaces were a bit inconsistent. Some were firmer and some were much softer. The speeds were pretty quick overall, but also seemed to vary somewhat from hole to hole. I found a few bunkers and they were a little thin, but not horrible.

Temecula Creek Inn is a very nice option in a great golf town. I would personally rank it below CrossCreek, Redhawk and Journey at Pechanga, but that’s pretty stiff competition to compare it with. I do think TCI’s rack rates are generally too much (as much as $95 on a weekend), but they do offer good stay and play deals if that’s your thing and reasonable rates can be found online if you time it right. For what I paid, it was a fantastic deal!

Some pictures from Temecula Creek Inn Golf Course (9/14/13):

Creek Course:

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Stone House Course:

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