Easy on the Driver

Challenge your golf game at three courses nestled amid the rolling hills of Temecula.

Judd Spicer Golf


With temperatures 20 degrees cooler than those of the Coachella Valley, a quick stay-and-play swing down to Temecula offers verdant topography and a diverse range of golf options, plus more than 30 wineries to quench your thirst after the game, all centered around the charming historic village of Old Town.

We’ve picked three courses to challenge your game. So gas up your ride, get those clubs out of the garage, and ready your favorite playing partners for a weekend golf getaway.

Temecula Creek Inn

Grand trees and rolling hills encircle the inn’s 130-room spread and 27 holes of play, making it easy to understand why this cozy and intimate property has long proven popular for romantic getaways, conference meets, and weddings.

“I think it’s great for couples,” says Peter Wininger, first assistant golf professional at Temecula Creek Inn (TCI). “When working with guests, I always put myself in the positon of, ‘Would I recommend this to my friends and family?’ I would definitely bring my wife here; the rooms are great, we both play golf, and the restaurant is terrific.”

Moreover, TCI’s self-contained, one-stop-shop layout provides a stress-less setting for repose. Really, there’s no worrying about driving or shuttles or resort maps — everything on property is within strolling distance.

“To describe our area in one word, I always use, ‘comfort,’ ” Wininger says. “Here, we want people to feel like they’re at home.”


Temecula Creek Inn course is flatter, making it attractive to beginners and junior players.

The golf grounds roll with the rest of the property, allowing for a simple, 90-second walk from the car to the clubhouse. High-handicappers will want to play the Creek Course. “The Creek is traditional, flatter with tree-lined fairways, but still pretty open,” Wininger says. “Most people consider it the easiest of the three courses.”

Temecula Creek Inn, 44501 Rainbow Canyon Road, Temecula. 844-791-6073; temeculacreekinn.com

THE OAKS at temecula creek inn

The Oaks is a step above with a great mesh of challenge and solitude.

“The Oaks course has a little more undulation and holes three through six can prove a tough stretch,” Wininger notes. “It’s very secluded with no freeway, no homes — very quiet and beautiful.”

Desert visitors will recognize a familiar design name in Ted Robinson, architect of TCI’s demanding Stonehouse course. Robinson has designed 19 desert courses, at such clubs as Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Sunrise Country Club, Marrakesh Country Club, and Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort.

“We’ve noticed that player gap in 20-somethings, and we started seeing some traction with this right away,” Wininger says. “The program is pretty fresh, and we’ve already signed up about 50 people.”

TCI offers a special Wine Package for guests, which includes an overnight stay, winemaking tour and tastings at four local vineyards.

You can also explore on your own and swing over to nearby Callaway Vineyard & Winery (callawaywinery.com), located just six miles from the resort. Golfers will no doubt appreciate the sprawling grounds founded by late golf magnate Ely Callaway, while all comers will revel in the seven different varietals planted across 20 acres of beautiful property.

For another nearby stop, segue your Callaway visit a mere two miles over to Lorimar Winery & Vineyards (lorimarwinery.com), where a host of award-winning blends mesh with a cultural vibe of music, art, and food.

the stonehouse
at temecula
creek inn

“The Stonehouse proves the toughest for the average player,” Wininger says. “There are some blind shots and the first time you play it you’ll need some direction; you see that right at the first hole, where you can literally duck-hook a drive and be in perfect shape.”

And while TCI does present something of an old-school vibe, its parent company, JC Resorts, has been wisely proactive in courting the millennial set with the new “20/30 Club,” offering $20 play on weekdays and $30 on weekends.

Ted Robinson, who designed 19 desert courses, is the architect behind Stonehouse. Here is the approach to the sixth hole.


Vineyards line the front side of the course.

CrossCreek Golf Club

Presenting some serious solitude paired with an earnest test of tee play, the Arthur Hills–designed course will give scratch players all they can handle from the tips. CrossCreek is one of those tracks where you get the supreme sense that you’re really “out there,” golfing your ball amid a rustic and agriculture-driven landscape.

Vineyard-lined fairways highlight the front side of the course and you’ll likely spot some wildlife along the way.

First-timers may want to invest in a yardage book to navigate from the boxes. Tree-lined tee shots can intimidate and tease the senses into thinking the landing areas are small, when in truth they are expansive.

While CrossCreek may someday have its own winery, the recommended post-round taste will come via a 10-mile drive over to Thornton Winery (thortonwine.com). A French-style chateau overlooks the grounds, where a concert series pairs perfectly with some of the region’s top sparkling wines.

CrossCreek Golf Club, 43860 Glenn Meadows Road, Temecula. 951-643-0511; crosscreekgolfclub.com

The Journey at Pechanga Resort
& Casino

Pechanga’s course is the Beauty and the Beast of SoCal golf and, quite frankly, you can’t call yourself a golf aficionado until you’ve played it. The undulated course becomes more accessible with the enhanced knowledge that comes with playing multiple rounds.

For example: That 300-foot drop on the par-4 sixth? No need to hit a driver or even hybrid from the forward tees. Simply take out a 4-iron, watch your ball soar, and find it in the short grass.

The Journey offers dramatic tee tests.

The Journey truly takes golfers on a journey, and building comfortability with the grounds’ dramatic tee tests is all part of the fun.

Pechanga, the largest casino in California, will wrap-up a $285 million expansion at the end of this year. Soon to offer more rooms, expanded dining options, a new spa, enhanced event space and, come 2018, a new pool area, the resort will give golf visitors even more reasons to stay and play.

After handling the Journey’s elevation changes, level out the day with a nine-mile drive over to Leoness Cellars (leonesscellars.com). Start the visit with a glass of the celebrated Syrah and close it with a meal at The Restaurant, regularly acknowledged as one of the top wine and dine establishments in the Inland Empire.

Pechanga Resort & Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula. 951-770-4653; pechanga.com