American golf writer Leonard Finkel says he stumbled upon a little piece of golfing heaven in the heart of San Diego’s wine country…
Nine years ago I stumbled on the Temecula Creek Inn. That I return year after year is no accident.
Less than an hour north of San Diego and located in the heart of wine country, the Temecula Creek Inn property is perfectly situated in a quiet, scenic area.
The golf course is composed of three distinctly different nines, the Creek, Oaks, and Stonehouse.
The Creek is the more traditional nine, with trees, bunkering, and the contouring of the greens creating the challenge.
On the Oaks, you start to see elevation changes and a tighter track. The Stonehouse is clearly the most scenic, with dramatic elevation changes.
It offers the long ball hitter various short cuts, with penalties attached for a miscalculation of distance, along with a more traditional route for the higher handicapper.
The area is so beautiful, several golf infomercials have been filmed here.The staff is so accommodating you might think you’re at a private country club.
From the blue tees, the Creek plays to 3348, the Oaks 3436, and Stonehouse at 3257. The greens are always in great shape and during this trip, they were the best I’ve seen in the San Diego area. They rolled true and were very fast.
The Creek begins with a 390-yard par-4 that doglegs right. Keep your driver in the bag here to avoid tree trouble. The second hole, 161 from the blues, always plays a club longer than you think.
The fourth, a 537-yard par-5 with an incredibly wide fairway, is my favorite on this nine.
There is a huge oak tree on the left side of the fairway, which can hinder the second shot, but a tee shot on the left makes the green reachable in two.
I love the way the Oaks course gently winds in and around the hilly terrain.
The second hole is a splendid par-5 with a very wide lading area to the left.
If you can hit it high and fairly long, a shortcut to the right will leave just a long iron to an uphill green.
The third hole, 171 from the blues, contains a bit of personal history. The green flanked by water on both sides, during my initial trip here, I hit into the pond on the right.
In an attempt to retrieve my ball, I fell in and every time I stood up, I fell down again. When I finally escaped, soaked to the gills, I had been dubbed “Splash”.
My playing partners said it was the funniest sight they had ever seen.
Four and six are the most difficult holes on the Oaks. On the 4th, you must hit to the right side, as a ball driven solidly to the left will scurry over the hill and roll way down into the trees. You will still have a long approach to a treacherous, undulating green.
Be sure that you stay below the hole. I’ve seen more than a few putts from above the hole slide clear off the green. Six is a 212-yard par-3, slightly uphill and protected by large bunkers and most of the time plays into the wind.
Local knowledge is very helpful on the Stonehouse. If you can hit a hard draw, par-5 first plays perfectly for you.
It is uphill off the tee with a hard dogleg right, but for most of us, the preferred landing area is to the right. A long iron or 5-wood is all that is necessary for a longer drive right will only leave you further from the green and into potential trouble. Big hitters can attempt to drive the green on the short second by aiming over the mound to the right on the fairway. The conventional route is a long iron that will only leave a wedge to the green.
Stay left on the 3rd and avoid possible tree trouble on the downhill approach to a scenic green. The short 4th is also driveable, but trouble lurks if you are short. The green sits behind the hill to the left on this uphill hole.
The panoramic setting of the sixth hole has a dramatic drop-off to another wide fairway. Aim left, as all balls will fall off to the right. The 6th green is also a imposing drop from the fairway.
The 9th is Temecula’s signature hole, a long par-5. A lake fronts the green that isn’t clearly visible from the fairway and will drown your second if hit too far. This is a three- shot hole. Stonehouse is calm and peaceful in the morning but the wind really can howl in the afternoon.
Stay & Play
When staying at the Temecula Creek Inn, be sure to dine at the Temet Grill. I’ve eaten there many times and the meals are always excellent. The lunch menu is casual and simple, yet sophisticated in its presentation.
At dinner, the menu is full of appetizing choices to be complimented by a robust wine list. It is one thing to make a great meal once, but quite another to be consistently great and meals at the Temet Grill are always delicious.
The Inn is a quaint country manor with comfortable rooms and a pleasant atmosphere. Most rooms overlook the golf course and sitting on the patio in the early morning and at dusk brought about a feeling of tranquillity.
In room massages are available and the Inn has working arrangements with the local Spas. A trip to a nearby winery is a great diversion (and may loosen up your swing). The rolling vineyard hills are dotted with quaint wineries
Stay & Play packages include deluxe accommodations and rounds of golf. The true warrior can upgrade their package to play on additional JC Resorts golf courses, including Rancho Bernardo Inn, Twin Oaks, and Oaks North. Packages including meals are also available. The Temecula Creek Inn can be reached at +1 877-310-4251.
Leonard Finkel is the author of “The Secrets to the Game of Golf & Life”.
He writes for and appears on the nationally syndicated U.S TV show, “Links Illustrated”. Visit the website at www.golfandlife.com.