Golf the Journey at Pechanga

A Golfweek selection for “Best courses you can play”, Journey at Pechanga, set in the foothills of Temecula, one hour north of San Diego, is one of the most eco- sensitive in the country. This beautiful track offers a variety of challenges through natural canyons, massive boulders past streams and over hilltops.

The Journey at Pechanga teebox
The Journey at Pechanga teebox

The Journey at Pechanga course designer, Arthur Hills, created this championship 18-hole course with input from the Pechanga Band , routing fairways around the giant oaks,  and building doglegs that snake along fast-running creeks with steep climbs to cliff-side tee boxes.

“The construction of the Journey at Pechanga golf course was controversial,” says Paul Macarro, Tribal Chairman for the Pechanga Indian Reservation. “Initially, the golf course builder wanted to clear cut our sacred trees but we held firm.”

The Great Oak at Pechanga
The Great Oak at Pechanga

The Pechanga, who have a great respect for trees, managed to save their giant coastal oaks along with their ‘grandmother’ sycamore tree.

Thankfully, all the conditions to honor sacred natural items were finally met, including ancient granite and the ancestral “kitchens,” large boulders with built-in mortars where Native American women ground the insides of acorns and other grains and seeds into meal.

The replica kiicha, the small dome houses made of twigs and vegetation, serve primarily as a barrier between the course cart paths and the remainder of the Pechanga Band’s sacred land.

Tule House at Journey at Pechanga
Tule House at Journey at Pechanga

The result, ironically, is the best and arguably the most natural feature of the Pechanga Resort complex. The course offers clear views of the surrounding, boulder-topped hills, as well as an open-air dining option bordering the course fairways appropriately called “Journey’s End.”

The surrounding hills do more than offer a great backdrop; they also provide six holes of challenging and scenic elevation. Meanwhile, closer to earth, the other holes – no two are alike – offer water hazards, deep sand bunkers and historical, natural artefacts which determine the interesting layout of the track.

Hole 17 The Journey at Pechanga
Hole 17 The Journey at Pechanga

The par three 17th has the most elevation on the back nine. Par is a great score on this hole. Just 180 yards from the whites, your only bail out option is the front bunker.

This is not your average resort course by a long shot; coincidentally, that’s the shot you’ll need to clear hundreds of yards of scrub, rock-guarded waterways, steep fairway and green-side bunkers.

Practice area at The Journey at Pechanga
Practice area at The Journey at Pechanga

To compensate for its toughness, Journey at Pechanga offers a well-designed practice area. It’s divided into a separate driving range, putting green and a most-impressive short game area. It’s complete with sizeable sand bunkers and replica rough areas from which careful shots land on slanted greens to help golfers prepare for the challenges ahead.

Randy Chang Golf School at Journey at Pechanga
Randy Chang Golf School at Journey at Pechanga

If your game needs a tune up, visit Randy Chang’s Golf School on-site at Pechenga Resort & Casino. Golf Channel Academy Coach and PGA pro, Randy Chang has the rare ability to explain the swing simply and to help you make changes quickly.

Previously published on USA Today 10 Best

 

 

Certified Village Cafes of the Eastern Townships

An hour outside of Montreal, visitors to the beautiful four-season vacation area of the Eastern Townships (Cantons-de-l’Est) can join the locals for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just coffee at a new association of local cafes that have been certified for serving quality, healthy meals using local ingredients and products. Strict criteria state the cafes cannot be part of a chain, must be central to community life and often feature the cafe owner behind the counter.

Local village café owners invite visitors to their fine restaurants to enjoy coffee (often organic and sometimes free trade) along with meals prepared using top quality local ingredients as well as locally-produced specialty products for take out, often available frozen for quick make-at-home meals.

This newly created, select group of local cafes is similar to the Cafes de pays found all over rural France.  These cafes also serve as meeting places that are known to be friendly, welcoming and down-to-earth. The owners of these cafés, which are centrally located in the towns and villages of the  Eastern Townships are proud to share their diverse flavours and their beautiful surroundings. The cafes are often located near scenic viewpoints such as alongside lakes and rivers.

Musee-du-Chocolate
Musee-du-Chocolate

An example of a village cafe which produces a specialty product is the one located in the Chocolate Museum in Bromont, founded in 1993. While enjoying such local dishes as salmon pie, chicken crepes or baked beans served with a fresh vegetable salad topped with a home made chocolate and balsamic dressing, visitors can also learn about the history of chocolate and enjoy a wide selection of hand made chocolates and chocolate desserts served with a rich cup of milk or dark hot chocolate.

Cafe de Saveurs
Cafe de Saveurs

Some of these small establishments like Cafe Saveurs et Gourmandises also hold liquor licenses and offer local beers and wines. Sitting on the bank of Lake Massawippi in North Hatley, Saveurs et Gourmandises, specializes in homemade delicacies including a perfectly-sized cake-style chocolate brownie filled with walnuts. For lunch, their hearty French onion soup topped with a generous helping of melted cheese is a great place to start followed by a fillet of salmon sandwich or a warm cheese and ham on a fresh croissant. Their six varieties of pizza are popular too.

Other village cafes in the region specialize in maple syrup products or multiple varieties of homemade bread while still others grew out of central food markets. Some serve as local co-ops and a few feature exhibits by local artists.

Whatever their origins or focus, the village cafes, a prime feature of everyday life in the community, are a great place to experience the Eastern Townships like a local.

Your Guide to an Active Vacation