1.5 weeks ago I had an unexpected quick trip to Singapore and back. Family emergency. It was a good thing I went and things are all good now. Mission accomplished. Thanks to all who sent best wishes.
I was only in the country for about 20 hours and only had the opportunity to spend about three of those hours checking out the sights. boy are there some amazing sights to see, like the cityscape at night. Wowsies.
Singapore at Night – Tremendous
I spent some time at the incredible Marina Bay Sands Resort. The main hotel has three 50-story buildings with a boat-like top connecting them all (photo below). Incredible. There’s a mall there that’s so high-end there were TWO Giorio Armani stores. You know, for those who didn’t want to walk all the way to the other end of the mall.
I think this resort and supporting retail and casino were built for billionaires to give them a chance to rid themselves of the low-life riff raff millionaires.
Marina Bay Sands Resort – Singapore
While walking around the bay at 9:10PM I happened across a bunch of people sitting on the boardwalk. There were whole families and many tourists with cameras and tripods setup. I found the cutest female tourists I could find (turned out to be German), and asked what was going on. There’s a water and light show every night there called Wonder Full. This show makes the one at the Bellagio in Vegas look like my 3-year-old playing in the bathtub. I sat down and captured some video with my smartphone. It’s not the best, and I was too close so you only see 1/3 of the viewable program. Here’s a portion of the show:
I’d love to get back to this incredible country, and spend more than 20 hours there. It’s a very clean and vibrant city. Cleaner than any big city I’ve been to. I swear you could eat off the ground in the subway stations.
Today is the par-3 tournament day at the Masters Tournament. This tournament has been going since 1960. The par-3 is a fun tournament where players interact closely with fans. Some players who are not in the Masters Tournament are allowed to play the par-3 tournament. Prior to the par-3 tournament there used to be a driving contest.
Augusta National Golf Club – Par-3 Course – Click for more images
The par-3 tournament takes place at Augusta National’s par-3 course, possibly the most beautiful par-3 course in the world, though the folks at Three Tops located at Treetops Resort might argue that point. As you will likely hear, no player who has won the par-3 contest has gone on to win the Masters Tournament.
Tiny greens… Augusta National Par-3 Course
I walked every hole of Augusta National’s par-3 course a couple of years ago and shot a ton of photos. For one shot I even snuck onto a little boat I found in the lake. The skies were a little gray the day I shot them but they still look great. I put together a gallery of 77 images of the course, the largest and most complete online photo gallery of the course that I’m aware of. All for you HOG “patrons.” Click the photos or the link below to view the gallery.
Recently the Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour spent some time at Pechanga Resort & Casino, located in Temecula, California. My stay was fabulous and I enjoyed as much of the amenities, food, and golf as I could squeeze in. I didn’t get to it all, so I hope to return and finish the job soon! Let’s take a look at Pechanga Resort & Casino.
Pechanga Hotel Left – Golf Clubhouse Right
Pechanga is a resort/casino which features 517 luxurious rooms of varying levels. The casino area is enormous, as big as any mega-resort in Vegas. As one walks in the main entrance, indoor waterfalls and interesting interior design please the eye.
Within the casino areas just about any form of gaming one would like to experience is there, from blackjack, craps, slots, to a massive bingo parlor. It’s all there.
It would take a week of three-meals per day to scratch the surface on Pechanga’s dining offerings, from fine dining to a food court which rivals large malls.
After a long day of recreating, work, or winning megabucks at the casino, Pechanga offers a full spa with various treatments and services.
Last but not least, “The Journey” at Pechanga is the on-site golf course which features fantastic views, elevation changes, and prime golf conditions. Check out the Hooked On Golf Blog Journey at Pechanga review here.
Location Location Location
What would a perfect golf/casino/resort location be? I’d say somewhere warm with access to major international airports, perhaps close to major metropolitan areas. And to put it over the top I’d say it would be located in a great area for vineyards wine. Pechanga fits the bill on all accounts. The resort is located almost exactly halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego in Temecula, California. When I was flying in I was able to choose flights by comparing cost to LA or San Diego airports. This time around, it was the best deal to fly into San Diego and take the 45-60 minute drive north to Temecula.
I’ve heard a lot about the golf course at Pechanga and I’m glad I was finally able to make the short trip down to Temecula, California to check it out. The course is called Journey, or sometimes referred to as Journey at Pechanga.
Location Location Location
Journey at Pechanga is located on the property of the fabulous Pechanga Indian Reservation resort/casino in Temecula, California. Temecula is in a perfect location roughly midway between San Diego and Los Angeles. When booking my flights it was nice to be able to choose between the LA airports or San Diego. I ended up choosing San Diego this time around because the cost was a little lower.
Pechanga Hotel Left – Golf Clubhouse Right
Journey’s routing brings it in the hills behind the resort, and gives the course some great elevation changes and views.
Pechanga is a very challenging golf course featuring five sets of tees. With five sets of tees players can choose how much of the challenge, or journey, they wish to bite off. From the tips, the Copper tees, the course plays to a par-72 with a course rating of 74.8 and a slope of 142. In plain English that’s one tough journey.
The course architect for Journey is Arthur Hills. I’ve played many of Mr. Hills’s courses and while he has some architectural signatures, his design at Pechanga is quite unique and original on a few levels. Part of the uniqueness of the course design is the challenges Hills had in preserving sacred areas and sacred items on the property. Players who are unaware of these sacred items might complain or wonder why there’s a large tree in the of the fairway. After solid drives I found myself directly behind a couple of those large trees with no shot at the green. I was irritated for only as long as it took me to remember these are sacred trees. Then I took my bogey and moved on.
There are several spots on the course where huts can be found, and some very old historic structures.
Modern huts, homes, are not on the course and never will be. I love courses like this which aren’t developed for the strict reason of selling lots. Major points scored on this for Pechanga.
Tee shots at Pechanga are probably the strength of the course design. Hitting the tee shot accurately is perhaps the most important shot on just about every hole. Many tee shots present forced carries and very large elevation changes, requiring precision and good math skills at figuring out the yardage to elevation change difference. Coming from a mountainous area, the elevation changes were right at home for me.
Tee shots sometimes present the player with risk/reward options, like the par-4 5th hole. At around 300 yards a bomber could play aggressive and try to drive the green. There’s not much room for error though with a stream dissecting the landing area and a lake the player must carry. On my first time around the course I chose a conservative route on that tee shot, hitting hybrid to the left fairway. From there it was a sand wedge to five feet and my first birdie of the day. The second time I played it I played more aggressive and ended up making bogey.
The next hole (#6) is a par-4 that provides the most dramatic elevation drop of about 300 feet. Drives seem to stay in the air for an hour or two from that tee box. In the photo below I’m about to launch one on #6.
Par-4 6th Hole Tee
Another great tee is on the par-3 17th (pictured below), with a large drop and a view of the resort and parts of Temecula in the background.
Pechanga Golf Course 17th Green
I almost aced 17 on my first go-round. Unfortunately my playing partners just missed out on some free beer.
The fairways at Pechanga are generally fairly wide and not terribly difficult. If you’ve managed to find the fairway, you won’t be faced with a tricky or unfair stance, but you might have issues due to the aforementioned sacred trees. It happened to me twice, once on the first hole and once on the par-5 9th.
First fairway before the early morning marine layer has burned off. Note the trademark tree in fairway…
A few fairways are split, giving the player two routing options. One option is often for the more aggressive player and one for the conservative.
During my round at Pechanga I found the greens to roll smoothly. They were receptive to good shots, even spinning a few back. Some greens like the 18th featured large undulations and tiers while others like the 2nd and 3rd were more flat and subtle.
15th Green at Pechanga
Many greens are guarded by some stern bunkering. Greens located on the hillside often had a favorable uphill side to help deflect errant shots above the green onto the green. But that same slope would severely penalize errant shots which hit the downhill side. I know this first hand.
The gap between the 5th and 6th holes is literally about a five minute drive in a golf cart, including a massive elevation change. That may be the “Journey” right there! There’s another big gap between 16 green and 17 tee. Because of some of these long gaps between holes and the steepness of the hills I really don’t see walking the course as an option. The walk from 5-6 could take a fit individual 15-20 minutes. Those gaps make some of the routing/flow a bit on the funky side.
Pechanga has a great driving range with high quality range balls. There are actual greens and bunkers in the range providing players the opportunity to play real golf shots at targets with forced carries. This is a great alternative to the ranges on some courses where the target is “north.”
The short game area is perhaps the best of the practice facilities at Pechanga though. There are several short game greens with side-hills, chipping pitching slopes, and bunkers to practice from. That’s where I should have spent most of my time, and where most players would benefit as opposed to pounding drivers all day on the range.
Short game practice area
Finally the practice green (below) provides an accurate representation of the speed and feel of the greens on the course. More importantly though, there’s a bar/cafe about 20 feet away.
Pechanga Practice Green
The clubhouse is quite an architectural piece. Inside are the pro shop, locker rooms, and a great restaurant called Journey’s End.
Journey at Pechanga Clubhouse
The pro shop is full of a massive apparel and equipment selection. If you forgot something or need some new gear, they have it.
I had breakfast at Journey’s End a couple of times and the huevos rancheros was fantastic, along with the pancakes.
The Journey produces some very fun resort golf between all the great amenities the hotel and clubhouse have to offer and the Arthur Hills designed golf course itself. The course can play as relaxing or as challenging as a player may want with it’s diverse set of tees. Bring some extra balls and bring a camera.
I hate cart paths. They’re a menace and diminish the game of golf in my opinion. You will see no cart paths at the Old Course in St. Andrews, ever. The revenue generating aspect of cart paths, especially for American/resort golf is a fact of life for most courses. Without that extra revenue many more courses would go under.
On my recent HOG World Tour stop at Pechanga in Temecula, California I saw a fun twist on cart paths. Rather than having small streams go under them, the resort has the water flowing over them. If you must have cart paths, might as well have some fun with them!
A golfer in my group named Mike jokingly said the flooded cart paths were the main reason he chooses to golf at Pechanga because he likes to get a running start and fly through the water in his golf cart. Me being the opportunist I am told him to let me have my camera ready before he did it. I managed to snap the pic below at the absolute perfect time!
That’s a different kind of water hazard at Pechanga!
The unique cart paths were just one of the interesting aspects of playing at Pechanga. More to come.