Tag Archives: golf

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



Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Carmel by the Sea, or simply Carmel, is California’s perennial favorite  travel destination. Formerly an artist’s colony –there seems to be more art galleries than people, tiny Carmel, population 4000, has worked hard to keep their village lifestyle.

The one-square-mile village of Carmel has no big-box stores nor chain restaurants. Don’t worry about paying to park your car – there are no parking meters and no street lights – great for star-gazing.

Monterey Cypress at Carmel Beach
Monterey Cypress at Carmel Beach photo credit: John Cameron

Carmel’s city founders favored a central post office instead of door- to-door delivery thus no addresses. Carmel street signs, carved vertically on short wooden poles, are easy to miss.

Court of the Fountains
Court of the Fountains photo credit: John Cameron

The ubiquitous Dutch doors, favored by almost all business owners, really enhance the friendly small-town feel.

Famous citizens include Clint Eastwood, a former mayor of Carmel from 1986-1988. Dirty Harry Callahan made it safe to eat ice cream once again on Carmel’s public streets. The late Doris Day was part owner of the dog- friendly Cypress Inn. Hollywood movie posters of Doris Day adorn Terry’s Bar – an homage to her son.

Rated the #1 dog-friendly town in America, you can bring your pets to restaurants, bars, the beach, even wine-tasting rooms.

Where to Stay

Hofsas House Carmel by the Sea
Hofsas House Carmel photo credit: John Cameron

Family-owned and run for three generations, the pet-friendly Hofsas House Hotel is very popular with travel-savvy Europeans. Get practical daily trip advice from the helpful concierge with a large continental breakfast featuring pastries from a local bakery.

Hofsas House Mural by Maxine Albro
Hofsas House Mural photo credit: John Cameron

The first thing guests might notice is the Bavarian themed mural opposite the Hofsas House welcome office. Donna Hofsas commissioned artist Maxine Albro to paint the mural in 1957.

Hofsas House Guest Room
Hofsas House Guest Room photo credit: John Cameron

The Hofsas House has 38 well-designed and comfortable guest rooms with Dutch doors in every room and featuring amenities like a fireplace.

Hofsas House balcony
Hofsas House balcony photo credit: Sherel Purcell

A small heated pool and a dry sauna that’s always warm and a communal rooftop deck for good views over Pebble Beach are special touches found at Hofsas House.

Hofsas House has the only poolside meeting facility in Carmel with classroom seating for up to 24.

The Hofsas House has partnerships with four different golf courses in the area. If you don’t want to pay the big bucks to golf Pebble Beach or Spanish Bay, the back nine at Pacific Grove Golf Links  has great water views. As the starter in the pro shop said,” It’s the same ocean for 300 bucks less. “

Things to do

Taste the wines of the Monterey and Carmel Valley all within walking distance of downtown.

Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room
Scheid Vineyards Tasting Room photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Schied Vineyards at San Carlos & 7th Avenue in Carmel offers complimentary small bites to pair with featured wines and new releases on the second Tuesday of every month.

Just down Ocean Avenue at the Carmel Road Tasting Room, sample their flight of Pinot Noirs.

Carmel Road Tasting Room
Carmel Road Tasting Room photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Actor Drew Barrymore works with winemaker Kris Kato to produce a great rose for her signature collection, Barrymore Wines. Both Scheid and Carmel Road offer wine clubs – get a taste of Carmel sent right to your doorstep.

Wine Enthusiast named Carmel one of the top ten wine tasting destinations in the world.

Carmel is the perfect base for exploring the beautiful California coast. Steinbeck’s Cannery Row in historic Monterey is 30 minutes to the north while Point Lobos is just 15 minutes to the south. Big Sur is an hour’s drive south on scenic US 1 .

Lone Cypress photo credit: John Cameron
Lone Cypress photo credit: John Cameron

Take scenic 17-mile drive for a great introduction to the relentless beauty of the northern California coast. Tip: take your receipt for the ten-dollar entrance fee with you and have it credited to your lunch at The Bench at the Pebble Beach Lodge, overlooking beautiful Pebble Beach’s iconic 18th green.