BY ELI MILLER
Besides its breathtaking layout, Tijeras Creek Golf Club has many characteristics that perennially place it as one of the top high-end facilities in Southern California. The Creek Card sets one of the highest standards for annual frequent-player programs. The forward-thinking staff cares deeply about growing the game. The service and amenities are of the quality discerning golf consumers have come to expect from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based management firm OB Sports.
Serious players no doubt appreciate those traits, too, but it’s the Ted Robinson-designed course that’s truly unforgettable. Tijeras Creek’s most memorable point of distinction is its two distinct nines – the resort-style front features prominent water hazards and gentle elevation changes, while the rustic back connects with the unique hillsides of Rancho Santa Margarita in South Orange County.
Viva Variety: There’s just so much variety at Tijeras Creek, a par-72, 6,918-yard track. There’s a collection of solid short par-4 holes – the second, 10th and 12th – that can just as easily produce bogeys as birdies. Three, nine and 18 are lengthy par 4s that entice longer hitters to give it everything they’ve got. Both par 3s on the front call for tee shots over water (I played No. 7 from the tips at 225 yards and was smiling wider than my waistband after getting up and down for par). Both par 3s on the backdrop off from the tee, with the 14th being especially sharp (I hit the green and two-putted for par on the 195-yard hole and was smiling even wider).
Lucky No. 17: Even with those lucky results on the short holes, the one test that will always keep me coming back to Tijeras Creek is the 404-yard 17th. A protruding tree just up the left off the tee makes this one of the most intimidating par-4 tee shots around – anything but a power draw leaves a difficult approach to a tricky, well-guarded green.
Giving Back: Tijeras Creek is a great place to play 18, hone your game or enjoy some great eats and events at TJ’s Cantina, located in the facility’s Spanish-themed clubhouse. And, take heart knowing this is a club that cares about developing golf, from regularly hosting Special Olympics Orange County to implementing the innovative SNAG! program for junior development, which utilizes larger, easier to hit equipment as a way to introduce beginners to the game. There also is a 4,105-yard “course within a course” designed for those who are new or returning to the game.
For more information or to book a tee time at Tijeras Creek Golf Club, call (949) 589-9793 or visit tijerascreek.com.