Beneath Mount Baldy, which cuts a snowy wedge from the horizon, Claremont Golf Course's nine holes form a grassy emerald pool. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden lies adjacent to the golf course, filling the air with the scents of native Californian flora and punishing players with penalty strokes for always using roses in their poetic metaphors. Totaling 1,915 yards from the back tees, with just one hole longer than 300 yards, the nine-hole executive course does not present a lengthy undertaking. Taken along with the lighted driving range and practice area, the comparatively short course is a great place for beginners to start out and for more experienced golfers to practice the short game or use their golf balls that bruise easily.
Course at a Glance: * Nine-hole, par 31 course * Total length of 1,915 yards from the back tees * Two sets of tees per hole
Nestled just south of Mount Baldy and national forests sits the 18-hole championship course at Upland Hills Country Club, designed by David A. Rainville. Players putt and drive around water hazards and palm trees that have been providing coconut golf balls at the course for nearly 30 years. The course’s 6th and 13th holes sprawl over 539 and 475 yards, respectively, earning them each a par 5. After swinging through the course, golfers can drop in at the restaurant and bar for refreshments, schedule a lesson, or visit the pro shop to replace the golf glove they ruined by bedazzling it for a Michael Jackson impersonation. Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-70 course * Length of 5,902 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 68.6 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 121 from the farthest tees
El Prado Golf Course is actually a pair of 18-hole golf courses, Chino Creek and Butterfield Stage. Though remarkably similar in the way they balance wide open fairways and forested stretches, they differ slightly in length and age?just like their architects, father-and-son team Harry and David Rainville. Rather than place fruit baskets around their course as their first names would imply, the Rainville design team drew up layouts that let newer golfers enjoy the game while their more skilled counterparts lean on touch and control to avoid frequent sand and water hazards. Located just east of Chino Hills National Park, the courses also frequently host visitors such as coyotes, Red Tail Hawks, and Canadian geese that wander onto the property.
Chino Creek Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-72 course * Total length of 6,850 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 124 from the back tees * Course slope of 72 from the back tees * Three sets of tees per hole
Butterfield Stage Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-72 course * Total length of 6,568 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 121 from the back tees * Course slope of 70.9 from the back tees * Three sets of tees per hole
Empire Lakes Golf Course bears the design imprint of one Arnold Palmer?seven-time major championship winner and one of the few golfers mentioned as a contender for greatest of all time. His sensibilities can be seen everywhere around the 18-hole course, which sprawls for more than 7,000 yards over sun-scorched earth in the shadow of Mt. Baldy. These include fairway and green-side bunkers placed strategically to give golfers fits, as well as a dearth of straightaway holes to emphasize shot-shaping and draw attention to the global shortage of 400-yard rulers. Though certainly tricky, none of these elements cross the line into artifice, which is in keeping with the "The King's" belief in natural, unadorned course design.
Conveniently close to both Orange County and Los Angeles, Empire Lakes is a stop on the PGA's Nationwide Tour. Once players arrive, they'll also find a lighted driving range and a School of Golf staffed with award-winning teachers and club fitters.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,034 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 74.1 from the back tees * Course slope of 136 from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole * View the scorecard.
The beautifully manicured golf course at Hidden Valley carefully incorporates the existing flora, streambeds, and outcropped rocks into its 6,860 yards of dimpled ball habitat, making players of every skill level feel as if they're teeing off in an unspoiled national park. A GPS-enabled cart will keep you from accidentally driving onto the Autobahn as you journey through a pleasantly challenging round of recreational golf (up to a $67 value, cart included). To warm up wrists before the game, guests can flick through a large bucket of balls on the practice green ($10), and once the 18th green has been conquered and purged of its mini-dragon guardians, it's off to the Villa Amalfi Ristorante to refuel. Sip on coffee, tea, or soda, and choose one food item from the breakfast or lunch menu, which includes tasty breakfast burritos ($6.95), mushroom-swiss burgers ($7.95), fried-chicken salad ($10.95), and more (up to $17.95 value). Customers also get their choice of either a hat ($20) or a golf shirt ($65), giving them a change of clothes when their astronaut suit is being dry-cleaned.
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.