Surrounded by the peaks of the Ortega Mountains, the towering trees of Cleveland National Forest, and the waters of Lake Elsinore, The Links at Summerly Golf Club couldn't seem farther from the flat, wind-swept coast of Scotland. But that didn't stop course architect Cal Olson from molding an 18-hole layout in the image of Scottish links golf. To that end, he made the most of the area's natural mounding, shaped three miles of burns into the clay, and filled the course with devious bunkers shaped like kidneys or just ovals with poor posture. Adding to the difficulty, the 7,012-yard layout incorporates a host of water hazards, leaving players a thin margin for error on many holes.
A venue for first-rate course play, The Links at Summerly also serves as a venue for practice and improvement with lessons helmed by PGA Class A professional Scott Marson. Lessons can incorporate video swing analysis and guided on-course play to drive home new concepts and strategies.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 7,012 yards from the tips * Course rating of 74.1 from the tips * Slope rating of 142 from the tips * Three tee options
Designed by renowned course architect David Rainville—whose resumé includes famed courses such as Indian Wells Country Club—the 18-hole California Oaks course stretches across 5,218 yards of bucolic Southern California topography. Towering trees, intervening ponds, and immense bunkers conspire to kidnap wayward balls throughout the course, and the club's immaculate fairways provide a hospitable landing zone for pinpointed drives and golf-obsessed extraterrestrials. A stream flows alongside every hole, adding a sense of continuity to rounds as golfers contend with each on-course challenge. After 18-hole expeditions, players can replenish at Oaks Bar & Grill, which, like the course itself, affords customers splendid views of the Temecula Valley, the San Jacinto mountain range, and the cloud-like spirits of drowned golf balls trying to contact 9-irons from the beyond.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-70 course (par 68 from the ladies' tees) * Designed by David Rainville * Length of 5,218 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 66.1 from the farthest tees * Slope of 122 from the farthest tees * Three tee options
Cottonwood Golf Center's nine-hole executive course sharpens straight shots with one par 4 and eight par 3 holes. Duffer duets amble through the meandering fairways, launch dimpled orbs through 2,466 yards of emerald alleys, and defeat lesser opponents in pull-cart street races. The scenic course overlooks rugged hills and scraggly pines, thwarting off-kilter shots with a petite water hazard filled with foghorn-wielding ducks. Players can supply their own clubs, rent one of the facility's sets ($5), or thwack golf balls with the neighbor's flamingo lawn ornaments.
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.
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