An introduction to Temecula

The city of Temecula in California, is slowly but surely starting to emerge as a popular holiday destination. Yes, there are some fine golf courses in Temecula which we’ll explore in a bit. But there are increasingly more and more things to see and do for all different types of visitors.

In terms of location, the city is in southwestern Riverside County, about an hour’s drive north of San Diego. This is a stunning part of California. Rolling hills and valleys dotted with vineyards as far as the eye can see. 

See also: What are the best golf courses in California?

This is wine-making country with a climate which is surprisingly drier than what you would find close to the coast. 

Temecula Wine Country

But you can’t talk about Temecula and not start with its sensational wineries. The latest count shows around 40 wineries dotted around the city. Many of these offer wine-tasting opportunities which makes for a great afternoon’s occasion. 

Being honest, many of the activities will revolve around visiting wineries and going for tours. Yet there are many other activities and things to do. 

For example, Temecula Old Town is a wonderful spot to wander around. Originally built around the California Railroad, which is no longer there, it has many historical features and boutique shops. 

Promenade Temecula is another great place to go for some retail therapy. With plenty of places to sit down and grab a bite to eat, you could find yourself spending a good few hours here.

Let’s not beat around the bush though. The ideal itinerary on a golf vacation to Temecula involves; a nice morning tee time followed by a decent clubhouse lunch. Then back to the hotel for a quick change followed by a taxi-ride to a vineyard for tastings and a spot of dinner.

See also: What are the best golf resorts in California?

And then finish the night off by heading over to Pechanga Resort Casino, one of the largest casinos on the West Coast!

The best golf courses in Temecula

1. Journey at Pechanga

At the base of Pu’eska Mountain is Journey at Pechanga. This is one of the finest public golf courses in Temecula. So much so, it has been recognised by Golfweek Magazine as being amongst the nation’s best public/resort courses. 

Not only is this a fantastic design, but the landscape is magnificent. The course weaves its way across undulating terrain which are the foothills of the south Temecula mountains. Expect plenty of elevated tee shots and expansive views.

The club is relatively new, having opened in 2008. It was designed by Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest and is a link-style par 72. 

What is worthy of praise is the club’s approach to sustainability. They pride themselves on using the most ecologically friendly practices in course maintenance. They also use considerably less water having chosen Bermuda grass for fairways.

These approaches also include protecting the native vegetation. As such the club is a blanket of natural flora and fauna with large oak trees characterizing many holes.

For many people on a golf vacation to Temecula, they will likely stay at the Pechanga Resort. In which case Journey at Pechanga will be the most convenient golf course to play being onsite. 

2. CrossCreek Golf Club

CrossCreek Golf Club, Temecula, California- resized

As you drive out of Temecula on the Rancho California Road, it really feels like you’re leaving civilization behind you. The road climbs gently into the mountains with impressive views back across the city.

Once you’ve surpassed the barren mountains, you’re suddenly exposed to rolling hills and vast valleys dotted with vineyards. It is here, just 15 minutes from downtown, that you’ll find the superb CrossCreek Golf Club.  

Despite being just 15 minutes from downtown, this is the most secluded spot. Creeks and groves resplendent with age-old oak and sycamore trees are dotted all around. 

The course was designed by Arthur Hills, an architect with serious pedigree nationwide. At CrossCreek he’s done a wonderful job of crafting a course which makes the most of the natural landscape.

There are many natural hazards with literally from the go, the first five holes bordering the Sycamore Creek. There is a real emphasis on accurate shot-making to ensure you don’t start the round losing too many balls to the wet stuff.

Throughout the round, you’re exposed to many more holes where water is omni-present. Fairways crossing deep ravines, elevated tee shots, tricky bunkers and rapid greens. This is a formidable test.

From the back tees, the course stretches to 6,853 yards, although there are a few different tee positions for lesser handicaps. 

3. Bear Creek Golf Club

20 minutes drive north west out of Temecula, is Bear Creek Golf Club. 

This wonderful course is located in the foothills below the Santa Rosa Plateau. Regardless of where you are on the course, there is an impressive mountain backdrop.

The course opened in 1982 and is the only Jack Nicklaus design in Temecula. It is also one of a handful of member-only clubs in the city. 

In the early 80s, Nicklaus was very much starting out in his architectural career. And Bear Creek is one of his first designs. 

But despite his lack of experience, some of the trademark design features are already apparent. Huge sand traps on multiple holes as well as pot bunkers. Large expanses of water to be circumnavigated from the tee box or in approach shots.

This is big, bold and challenging golf. And boy is it fun! You would probably guess this was a Nicklaus design. 

Expect great service and first-class attention in the clubhouse.

4. Temecula Creek Inn Golf Club

Temecula Creek Inn Golf Club, California,

Just up the road from the Pechanga Resort Casino and down the valley from Interstate 15, is the superb Temecula Creek Inn Golf Club.

There are three loops of nine-holes at this top class resort course; the Oaks, the Creek and the Stone House.

Temecula Creek Inn was one of the original golf courses in Temecula. Having opened for play in 1969, it celebrated its half centenary in 2019. 

The two original nine-holes are the Oaks and Creek courses. Both were designed by Dick Rossen, a relative unknown and his only foray into golf course design. 

But if you’re only going to design one course, then he’ll be pretty pleased with his efforts. The Oaks and Creek layouts are superb. 

The Oaks is strategy personified, with tree-lined fairways leading to complex green layouts. The Creek on the other hand, is a big-dog’s dream. Wide fairways with direct shots into the greens, offering ample opportunities to score well.

More recently in 1990, the Stone House nine was designed by Ted Robinson. This really is the apex course. Visually impressive with dramatic elevation changes, the course is far more challenging and also the longest of the three.

This really is a great day out. All three offer fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and the clubhouse is sumptuous. 

5. The Legends Golf Club & Course (Temeku Hills Golf)

The Legends Golf Club - Facebook - resized

This is a unique setup firmly within the heart of Temecula. The Legends Golf Club is so called because every hole on the course is named after a legend of the golfing game.

For example, on the first hole you’re introduced to Old Tom Morris. Arguably one of the most important and influential figures in the growth of the game. And so it goes on with Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam… 

This may seem a little comical or frivolous, but the course design holds up well. It was designed by Ted Robinson and more recently renovated by the legendary (see what i did there?) Pete Dye. 

Despite being in the heart of urban Temecula, there is enough vegetation and space not to feel too overburdened by the surrounding housing. 

There are some great holes with the par 5 fifth up there as one of the most challenging. A dogleg left to right, followed by a precise lay up, before attacking the green over the water. 

Likewise the fourteenth hole is a great risk and reward hole. Big hitters will be tempted to try and drive the green. But misplace your shot and you’ll be in big trouble. 

Oh, and if you’re wondering which hole is handicap #1, it’s Harry Vardon on just the second. 

6. The Golf Club at Rancho California

The Golf Club at Rancho California, Temecula, Facebook - resized

Heading north out of Temecula towards Murrieta Hot Springs, is The Golf Club at Rancho California. 

Another one of the early pioneers of golf in the city, the course has been here since 1970. 

When it first opened, there was significantly less housing surrounding the course. Yet as is the curse for many modern courses, urban sprawl seems to catch up somehow.

Despite this, the Golf Club at Rancho California is still one of the best golf courses in Temecula. Granted there is an omni-present residential feel. But the course plays superbly well. 

The design is a classic Robert Trent Jones Sr creation. It also perfectly embodies his design philosophy which is for every hole to be ‘a hard par but an easy bogey’.

And despite a variety of owners over the years, it has consistently hosted top-level championships. A number of qualifying events for the USGA, PGA and SCGA (Southern California Golf Association) are held here. 

7. The Links at Summerly

The Links at Summerly, Temecula, California, Facebook - resized

What a spectacular course this is and quite unique, not just in Temecula, but the whole of California. 

The Links at Summerly is a sprawling inland links style course, a throw-back to the traditional links layouts of the British Isles.

This vast plot of land is positioned right next to one of Southern California’s largest natural lakes, Lake Elsinore. The lake itself doesn’t come into play. But a large waterway intersects the course creating a harrowing hazard to avoid at all costs.

The layout is a Cal Olson design. This is an architect who calls himself a true renaissance man. Therefore maybe it won’t come as a huge surprise he was chosen to oversee this sensational project which opened in 2008.

From the back tees the course stretches to just over 7,000 yards. Fortunately, the land is relatively flat, so good iron shots or woods will be rewarded with a good roll. Because the land is flat, it is also perfect for walking, something quite traditional in the British Isles, yet less so over here.

Without doubt one of the best golf courses in Temecula and high up on best value for money.

8. Redhawk Golf Course

Redhawk Golf Course, Temecula, California, Facebook - resized

Last on our list of best golf courses in Temecula, is Redhawk Golf Course. Literally minutes from downtown Temecula, Redhawk is a firm favorite amongst the locals. 

It is even rumored the course was once ranked in California’s Top 10 best public golf courses. It is highly debatable whether it still holds that lofty position as well as how authoritative that list was. 

But that said, Redhawk Golf Course is a fine layout and one which will challenge many parts of your game. 

Having opened for play in 1990, it features gently undulating fairways and some really fun elevation changes. 

A great example of this is the downhill 17th hole, a par 3 which drops down the hillside. Make sure you take a couple of clubs less and also soak in the views of Temecula. 

In fact, the par 3s in particular are great fun. The signature hole is sweet. 167 yards hitting across to an island green. Just don’t forget the prevailing winds! 

Likewise, the 12th hole aptly named the Dune. Another island green, but this time surrounded by sand. 

Good fun and well worth adding to your golf itinerary.

9. California Oaks Golf Club

One of the more affordable and very welcoming public golf courses in Temecula. 

California Oaks Golf Club is a par 70, but generally caters for higher handicap golfers. Yes, at times it can be challenging. For example, the fairways are narrow and there is on multiple occasions water in play. 

The course was designed by David Rainville, an architect responsible for around 50 course designs and renovations. Many of these were in Southern California, but also a handful in Asia.

At just 5,200 yards, this is a great course if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed. 

What is the best golf course in Temecula?

The best golf course in Temecula is Journey at Pechanga. The course was designed by Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest and opened for play in 2008. It has stunning views of the south Temecula mountains and is considered one of the finest public golf courses in California.

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