The “hidden” part of being a hidden gem is literally true when it comes to CrossCreek Golf Club in Temecula.
Located west of Old Town Temecula and its mountain backdrop, one wouldn’t immediately deduce a golf course resides on the other side – but one does, and it’s a beaut.
The course occupies the lowlands between the mountain surrounds and provides a rolling prairie golf type experience, akin to something you might be see in the Midwest. The course winds in and out of a forest and provides a pleasant progression of holes.
While off the beaten path, it’s the type of that one that when golfers discover it, CrossCreek Director of Golf David Garner says, they tend to come back.
“It’s a unique location and a very unique golf course,” he says. “We got a lot of comments where people say they didn’t know we were out here, but they love it when they see it.”
The benefit of the remote location is a secluded, solitary and exclusive golf experience. The drawback, from a marketing standpoint, is the need to advertise a bit more than most to raise the course’s profile against a bevy of courses in the area located off the I-15.
“We try to drive home the message of no homes, no freeways, no noise – just pristine golf,” he says.
One advantage Cross Creek has in the winter, Garner says, is having grass that doesn’t go dormant. That gives the course an edge when competing against courses whose Bermuda has gone brown for the winter.
“Us and Journey at Pechanga are the only ones in the area that don’t go dormant,” he says. “That makes us a great winter course.”
And more than just a local secret, Garner says Cross Creek successfully pulls golfers from Orange County and San Diego who are seeking a unique and affordable golf experience.
Locally, the course tries to catch attention by partnering with and promoting the thriving and rapidly evolving Temecula wine county.
Just as the wineries each have their niches and specialties, so does Cross Creek. Its best asset is a course experience, designed by Arthur Hills, that’s unlike any in the immediate market.
“You’re out in the wilderness and every hole is unique,” Garner said. “There are no copy-cat holes here.”
There layout opens with a pair of forested, mid-length par 4s before coming to a par 3 with a forest-framed green involving a creek carry.
The front is fairly flat, besides the severely elevated par-3 8th, before giving way to a more undulating back nine.
The signature hole is the par 3 17th, another hole featuring a creek carry to a forested-surrounded green that is set off in its own amphitheater. From the blue tees, it’s a pitching wedge approach at most, but the yardages stretches to 170 yards from the blacks.
“It’s probably the best shot on the course,” Garner said, adding that the hole is currently being aesthetically enhanced. “It’s a challenge because the green narrows as it moves to the right, but it’s the most beautiful backdrop on the course.”
There’s room to miss long, making it a bit more forgiving that it might present from the tee, but a birdie putt is the preferred outcome when you cross the wooden bridge to the green. The holes provides a bit of a breather after a challenging pair of par 4s.
The trifecta in that group is No. 18, the closing par 4. It involves a placement tee shot to an elevated fairway to an approach descent that presents challenges gauging distance and line of play for first-timers.
“It frustrates first-timers because they don’t know where to place their tee shot,” he says. “And the last shot is over trees and brush. It’s a great hole to close with a little money on the line.”
And it concludes a round at a course whose quality customer service and pristine play are likely to get you to tee it up again.