I have a habit of playing somewhere super nice and exclusive (such as The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe last weekend), and then following that up with something rather obscure and not quite as desirable. But that’s how life as a Golf Nomad goes. When you are on a quest to play as many courses as possible, there are plenty of natural ups and downs with such a wide variety of courses out there. Still, sometimes you encounter a somewhat pleasant surprise.
That was the case on Saturday, when some friends and I ventured down to the remote little town of Aguanga (about halfway in between Temecula and Warner Springs on Highway 79). There’s not much around here other than the Rancho California RV Resort, which happens to have its own little course.
Technically, it’s a 14-hole track that is either classified as executive or par-3-only, depending on which tees you play (and apparently which day you play). We arranged to be resort guests for the day, which gave us all-day access to the course for around $25 each. We teed off a little after 7:00, but there was a shotgun member’s club group going out around 9:00 that we wanted to get ahead of.
Because Saturday is when the course will get the most play, they technically don’t allow you to play the blue tees (and for good reason), which makes two of the holes awkward par-4s. We were playing them anyway and didn’t find out about this local rule until we ran into a few of the members. Oh well. Otherwise, if you play from the whites or reds, the course is a shorter par-3-only course.
The reason the blues aren’t to be played on busy days is that the course plays much longer and presents some very awkward angles that could be dangerous when the course is crowded. The most egregious example is the 10th hole. The 9th is a pretty standard par-3 and then the short course version would have the 10th be another straightforward par-3. However, from the blues, you go all the way back to the same 9th tee you just played from and then pretty much play over that hole and to the 10th green as a 265-yard par-4. Very unusual, indeed.
On the resort’s website, the course is billed as one of the toughest short courses around and you won’t get much argument from me. As we found on other RV park courses in the desert, there is a ton of water in play, several funky little holes and some tight routing in between the RV lots. There were a lot of residents around this time of year (unlike those others which were deserted when we played in the summer), so it was uncomfortable at times. There isn’t much room for error on any shots.
It’s a 14-hole course, but you go back and play the first four holes again (from different tees) to complete your 18-hole round. From the blues, it’s 3,091 total yards and is a par-56. From the whites, it is 26,98 yards and is a par-54. From the reds, it’s only 2,187.
With the challenge and some decent desert scenery around, it turned out to be a more interesting course than I would have expected. Also, I would say the conditions were a somewhat pleasant surprise. Things were pretty lush and green throughout. The greens were heavily watered and way too damp in the morning, but the surfaces were great, smooth poa annua and very well-kept. The fairways and rough were also a bit too soggy for us, but still in very nice shape overall. The bunkers had super soft sand. The tee boxes were a hodge podge. Some were kind of dried out and dormant, others were pretty good and some were being worked on with a fresh, mushy and smelly layer of fertilizer recently applied. On those, you really tried to avoid taking a divot!
We had to go through some work to arrange a guest visit here and it is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, so the Rancho California RV Resort won’t appeal to anyone but the hardest of hardcore course collectors and the residents/guests of the resort itself. However, it turned out to be a pretty fun experience and worth checking out if you happen to be there at the resort for whatever reason.
Some pictures from Rancho California RV Resort (10/3/15):