El Rancho Verde Golf Club has spent half a century basking in the majesty of the surrounding snow-capped mountains, testing golfers on a challenging course without disrupting their inner peace. The par 72 course boasts holes to make both advanced stick-swivelers and novice wedge-wielders feel at home. From the longest tees, balls can race down 6,844 yards of fairway, along pools that reflect the towering peaks and lush greenery where native owls wait eagerly to adopt lost golf balls and hatch them as their own.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.