Category Archives: Journey at Pechanga

Southland: CrossCreek Course Overview


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.



Video Post: Sushi Made By A Master At Pechanga

During at stay at Pechanga Casino in July, I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Kiyokuni Ikeda, the new head chef at Umi Sushi and Oyster bar.

He graciously agreed to let an amateur videographer study him at work while he made an umi roll, which consists of albacore, tempura shrimp, crab, jalapeno and spicy aioli. The results were, naturally, delicious.

The following videos allow you to study a master at is craft.

You can find all the menu offerings at Umi at

6 tee

Video Post: No. 6 At Journey At Pechanga, A Tee Shot Unlike Any Other in SoCal

6 tee

Those who’ve played it never forget it. Those who return always look forward it.

The tee shot on the par 4 6th at Journey at Pechanga is simply unlike any other in SoCal. In a region with elevated tee shots in spades, this is the grand daddy of sky balls and dramatic drops to the fairway.

The hole plays a daunting 488 yards from the tips, 458 from the blacks and 441 from the whites, but the elevation change and friendly breeze knock that number down a bit. I’ve birdied it from the blacks going driver/8 iron. That, however, was not my outcome from the tips recently. After my best drive of the day came the buzz-kill question: “Did you see it land?” I had not.

Monday lie

Ugh. I’m sure you can finish the story of that one.

But finding the fairway sets you up for a round-making birdie or a super satisfying par.

Here are a couple looks at a tee shot that makes golfers salivate.

18 barritz

A Change To The 18th Green At Journey At Pechanga

18 barritznew 18

Above: Before and after

In response to player comments and criticism over the years, Journey at Pechanga has reworked its 18th green.

The severely undulating and taco-shaped Biarritz has been softened into a shape more resembling a curved potato chip, according to the Journey staff.

“It was a big decision,” Journey at Pechanga Director of Golf Scott Mallory said. “Ultimately we knew we had to listen to our guests. Before we softened the green, golfers may have been lucky to get off the green with a three- or four-putt. Now that it’s not so unforgiving, we have a phenomenal finishing hole. With two good shots, you can make birdie.”

Journey at Pechanga opened in 2008 after a lengthy planning and design process by Steve Forrest, Arthur Hills and the Pechanga Tribe. With Biarritz greens being an occasional calling card of Hills, Journey’s hole 18 was intended as a challenge of golfers’ forethought and skill. For pros like Mallory and others who golf often, the hole didn’t seem daunting. For weekend golfers and resort players who make up most of Journey’s customer base, however, the green became a frequent topic of contentious conversation.

“This change up makes the hole so much more fun and playable,” Mallory said.

The Journey staff points out to that the new green allows them up to eight possible pin placements, as opposed to only five before the reconstruction. Greenskeepers also like the change because it allows pin areas to recover better from foot traffic and ball marks.

Journey At Pechanga: A Historic Hole In One Pays Off Big

pechanga ace

Journey at Pechanga golf course in Temecula recently recorded its 100th hole in one and it earned a substantial prize.

Roger Thai, a dentist from Westlake Village, Calif., came to the resort/casino course to play in a tournament raising money for children who have undergone open heart surgery. He scored his ace on No. 8, a 165-yard par 3, and won a 2015 white Cadillac CTS worth $50,000, the hole prize for the tournament.

Using a 7 iron, Thai’s ball soared to the green, rolled a few feet and dropped, overcoming odds of 12,500 to 1, the odds for an amateur making an ace.

“I totally couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve even gotten a hole in one in mini golf.”

Thai will also receive a commemorative plaque, which Journey sends all golfers who make a hole in one at its course. This was the second year the DAVI Foundation has held their annual tournament at Journey at Pechanga. The tournament raises funds so Southern California children who have undergone open heart surgery can attend a bonding and immersive summer camp on Catalina Island.

Journey opened in 2008. To learn more about the course and the casino/resort, go to

October 2014 Southland Golf


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The October issue of Southland Golf was my busiest issue ever. Follow the link to the digital issue and you will find stories as listed.

The Grape Escape: Temecula wine country travel piece – page 9

Lasting Impact: Titleist 915 driver Q & A – page 24

Stick Around: A look at the Lodge at Torrey Pines – page 47

Bucket List: A lesson about lessons – tips for maximizing your golf lesson – page 57

Q & A W/Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame WR Andre Reed – page 86

Buy 1 SLDR S Driver & Get a Fairway or Rescue Free! Ends November 6, 2014

Journey at Pechanga: Q & A W/Hall of Famer and Golfer Andre Reed


Photo courtesy of

Buy 1 SLDR S Driver & Get a Fairway or Rescue Free! Ends November 6, 2014

Editor’s note: An alternate and abbreviated version of this story appears in the October issue of Southland Golf Magazine

Former all-pro Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, one of Journey at Pechanga’s most prominent golfers, achieved his sport’s ultimate accolade in August – induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Reed, who now resides in Del Mar, was inducted into the hall to the cheers of thousands of adoring fans and before millions more worldwide watching the broadcast live on the NFL Network.

The evening was the culmination of a 16-year career (15 in Buffalo) that saw him play in four Super Bowls and set numerous records connecting with quarterback Jim Kelly.

Kelly, who was battling cancer at the time and has since been declared cancer-free, threw Reed one last pass to cap an emotional evening for new Hall of Famer. Reed’s mother, Joyce, was also in attendance and from the podium he told her, “Tonight, you’re in the Hall of Fame too.”

About a month after the ceremony, Reed took some time to reflect on the evening and the achievement and also discussed his favorite San Diego course, Journey at Pechanga, and his neglected golf game amidst the Hall of Fame preparations.

Do you feel any different having been through the ceremony? How has being a Hall of Famer changed your life?
You’re noticed a lot more once you have those three letters (HOF) behind your name. It doesn’t just stand for what you did on the field. It’s also about how you conducted yourself. It stands for history, values and excellence and now you’re part of preserving that once you have a gold jacket, a bust and a ring.

You prepare for (the ceremony) for seven months and then in three or four hours, it’s over. It’s amazing how fast it’s over.

What does through your mind while you’re being inducted? What do you remember now?

On that night, you remember all the other players, your family and the fans and then after you remember what the feeling was like (the ceremony) – and you’ll never lose that feeling. It only happens once, so it’s pretty special. But you don’t just get it for a night. You’re a Hall of Famer the rest of your life. And those words start to sound pretty good rolling off your tongue.

Was there anyone you met who really made the Hall of Fame real to you as far as the magnitude?

Jim Brown. He is such an icon in the sport and for what he’s done for the game. He’s perhaps the greatest football player ever. To see him, really put it in perspective. I’m in the same category with the likes of Jim Brown and he’s now someone you can call a brother – and it’s forever. You can’t get kicked out or cut. You’re an icon forever in the football world.

Did you meet anyone else who impressed you?

The two guys I was in inducted with – Claude Humphey and Ray Guy – were both great guys.

I had to wait nine years to get in and I thought that was a long time. They both waited more than 20. They both got elected by the veterans committee, which makes you realize you don’t do this by yourself and you remember all the people who’ve had a hand in your success. I was really happy for them.

Now I’m one of the 287 like they are, and that’s pretty special.

It sounds like you sacrificed your golf season a bit to get ready for Canton?

Yeah, I try to play as much as I can, but it haven’t been able to play much this year with all of the Hall of Fame stuff going on.

How long have you been playing Journey? What’s your favorite hole?

Ever since I got introduced through Marshall Faulk’s tournament about five years ago, I’ve been playing at Journey at Pechanga. I think it’s one of the best courses in the county. I just love the ambiance of it. And No. 6 (the extremely elevated par-4) is my favorite hole. It’s very challenging. If you’re too far left or right there, you’re done.


What’s the best part of your game?

My game is scrambling. I can get it up and down pretty consistently. I make pars where most people make bogies because I can make a putt.

My favorite club is my 56-degree wedge. I hit that pretty well from I 100 yards and in when I’m playing more. That’s my game. You don’t score on the tee box.

What’s your best score and best shot at Journey?

I’ve broken 80 over there once – 78 or 79.

Best shot would on No. 10 (short par-4) a few years ago at Marshall’s tournament. The tee was up and I drove the green and ended up two feet from the pin. I’d have the quit the game if I’d made that. (Laughing.)

Do you like to practice at Journey and use the range and short-game area?

It’s a phenomenal place to practice. And the school they have is pretty nice, too.

And you’ve got to get to the range to get ready because it’s a very long course. And it can get windy and a little hot, but I always have a good time there.

I like Torrey Pines, but if I’m traveling to play, I’m definitely going over to Pechanga.

Buy 1 SLDR S Driver & Get a Fairway or Rescue Free! Ends November 6, 2014