When golf architect Cary Bickler designed Shandin Hills Golf Club in 1985, he wasn't about to make it easy for golfers to just waltz onto his greens. Instead, he surrounded almost every green with moats of sand to guard the precious bent and poa annua grass. When not building wooden planks to lay across the bunkers, players at Shandin Hills face several obstacles along the 18-hole course, including a large pond on 15 that splits the tee box and the bermuda-grass fairway.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,517 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70.6 from the back tees * Course slope of 127 from the back tees * Three sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
Tall trees scrape the clouds across Colton Golf Club?but they aren't the only structures that reach skyward. They're joined by light poles, which fill the 18-hole, par 57 executive course with light to facilitate after-dark rounds. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., the layout ripples over gentle elevation changes pocked with sand traps and a single pond, which comes into play on the fourth hole. Comprised of 15 par-threes and three par-fours, the course provides an ideal venue for novices trying to expand their game and experts looking to shoot par with nothing but an 8-iron.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 57 executive course * Course length of 3,108 yards from the tips * Course rating of 54.2 from the tips * Slope rating of 82 from the tips * Two tee options * Scorecard
Framed by views of the San Jacinto Mountain Range, the Country Club at Soboba Springs has stumped some of the world's best golfers. Not long ago, it was home to the PGA Tour's Soboba Classic. Today, sporting a newly renovated, 32,000-square-foot clubhouse, the course leads visitors along a sculpted layout that barrels through a forest of cottonwood and palm trees. Water comes into play on 11 of 18 holes, and 78 bunkers filled with white sand lie in wait to snatch up errant shots or slow down golf carts that get off their leashes. Players should watch out for the 15th and 16th holes, especially, which are surrounded by water and used to give professionals fits as part of an especially challenging back nine.
Course at a Glance * Designer: Desmond Muirhead 1966; Redesigned by Cary Bickler 2005 * Lauded by Press Enterprise: Best round of golf 2014 * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total of 7,101 yards from the back tees * Three tees per hole * Course rating of 73.3 from the tips * Course slope of 131 from the tips
Fountains whisper to themselves amid low emerald hillocks. Groups of golfers confer over tees at the ninth hole, where the fairway drops off to the left, into the cool mirror of a small lake. Architect Ted Robinson, who has designed more than 170 courses, draws heavily on the many uses of water in his creations. With mountains spearing the horizon in the distance, golfers cut beneath swaying palm trees. The scents of grilling burgers drift down from the clubhouse, and during Sunday-morning brunches, champagne glasses clink occasionally like a shy xylophonist.
Though it's surrounded by the rolling hills of Riverside County?and even has "hills" in the name?the course at Seven Hills Golf Club is a relatively flat affair that's welcoming to golfers of every stripe. The lack of steep inclines and writhing snake pits makes the links easy to walk, and the wide, welcoming fairways mean most players hopefully won't have to stray too far from the short stuff. After dispatching with every tree-shrouded shot and confidently navigating the small greens, players can continue to work on their cuts on the grass driving range, chipping green, and practice bunker, or head into the Cafe on the Greens for a post-round bite.
For more than 30 years, Southern California Golf Schools' professional golfers and teachers have been passing their club-swinging tutelage on to golfers of all ages. The director of the golf school's operations, Steve Bean, started his teaching career in the early 80s and went on to teach alongside such golf luminaries as Derek Hardy and Hank Haney, who was Tiger Woods' swing coach and shadow-puppet partner. Bean has been a golf pro for several country clubs, has worked as a custom fitter for Titleist, and has owned multiple golf schools in San Diego and Las Vegas since 2011. In 2010, he was named the teacher of the year by the Professional Golf Teachers & Coaches Association of America.