Journey at Pechanga
Journey at Pechanga is extremely unique d one of the best courses in Southern California. The course is built into the foothills of the South Temecula mountains and utilizes them dramatically throughout the course. The terrain is so rocky in some parts the system has about 30 percent less grass than the average California golf course, meaning target golf and extreme elevation changes.
The Journey at Pechanga is a trek. The course is paved with 7 miles of the cart path, double the typical course, so driving from hole to hole is half the fun. PGA Tour legend and 2-time U.S. Open winner Cory Pavin said he wishes he had built this course.
The course has several jaw-dropping holes. It is an architectural marvel and a thinking man’s path; you must be precise off the tee and think two shots ahead. If you are out of position, things can go awry quickly here. The fifth hole is a good example, you can choose how much you want to cut off the lake or play it safe, but it will leave you a long shot over the creek into an awkwardly placed green.
The 6th hole is undoubtedly the signature hole at Journey; it boasts a 185-foot drop with one of the best panoramic views you will see at ANY golf course. The hole is vertigo-inducing and is one of the most fun golf holes I’ve ever played. If you can somehow keep your tee shot in play and your club in hand, the hole features another nearly 100-foot drop to the green.
Despite playing over 7000 yards from the tips, Journey has several short par 4s that don’t necessarily call for a driver, including the short 7th hole with a tree smack dab in the middle of the fairway. This is a common theme in this course, which can irk some. There are three on the front nine alone.
The 8th hole is a fantastic par three that plays 225 from the back tees with virtually all carry. A better version of Mt Woodson’s signature 3rd hole, this longer par three at least leaves some more bailout room to the right, which can potentially feed down to the green as it slopes severely left.
The 9th is a tricky par 5, the number 1 handicap hole. The tee shot requires fade to avoid the tree in the middle of the fairway blocking your second shot. If you are blocked, you can opt to hook it around the tree or play between the trees. I think the trees are not needed here, and this would be a great par five without them.
The Journey has many intricate design features, and the attention to detail throughout the course with its staff and the experience is top notch. The conditions are also excellent, with some of the nicest tee boxes around.
The course flattens out on the back 9, but no two holes are alike at the Journey. Another notable mention is the 17th hole, a beast of a par 3 with another huge elevation drop. From the tips, the spot pays 242 with barely any bailout room. Only a nice high shot can hold this green.
Playing this course a second time was a different experience because course knowledge is critical. It can also be very windy here, adding another level of challenge.
Overall, Journey at Pechanga is an exhilarating course, it is extreme target golf to a tee, and it is an experience just as much as it is a golf course.