Rancho Del Sol Golf Club
My latest golf adventure has taken me to Rancho Del Sol Golf Club, formerly Moreno Valley Ranch. A Pete Dye design, this hidden gem was recently reopened and renamed after falling into disrepair and closed for five years.
The course has reopened and is now an 18-hole layout, previously a 27-hole course, and they kept the Lakes and Mountain nine. The two nines are drastically different. It is essentially two different courses. Simply put, the front nine shows you what Pete Dye can do with nothing (a lot) and what he does when given a lot.
The front nine is what used to be known as the Valley nine, and it is a traditional Pete Dye design, where he made something pretty remarkable out of nothing. Railroad ties, lakes, and lots of undulating fairways and waste bunkers.
The second hole is a picture-perfect par three over water with railroad ties, mounding, and shelves, Pete Dye’s signature design features. While the conditions are not excellent, they are decent, but the bent greens are known to be some of the best in the Inland Empire and are spectacular.
The front nine has a solid mix of holes in a rather uninteresting setting and many Pete Dye design features that make this nine enjoyable to play, and the greens look like something out of a TPC course.
The back nine is a whole different course at Rancho Del Sol. As it used to be named, mountain nine plays alongside a mountain more naturally than any other course I’ve experienced. The 10-17 are all tremendous holes that are memorable and fun to play. Although the back nine is nearly 500 yards shorter than the front, it plays much tougher without any course knowledge.
The significant elevation changes on the back nine make picking the right club challenging in your first round. After the 10th hole, a straightaway par four up the hole, the course climbs closer up the mountain, and several holes wrap around it. The par five 15th hole is a favorite for many, and the setting makes this course look like it could be in Arizona or even the Big Island of Hawaii at some points, where massive boulders and golden-like fescue frame the holes.
As the holes climb to their highest point, the signature 16th hole is a treat. From the back tees, it provides a fantastic view of the Moreno Valley in the distance, and the tee shot is to what is essentially an island green in the mountains. This hole looks closer to something that you would see in Arizona or at the British Desert Open, and in my opinion, you can quickly put this up there as one of the top holes in the inland empire, and there are A LOT of unique ones.
Overall, the course is trying to gain momentum, it has the bare bones of a great golf course, but it is still in the rebuilding process. The locals had mentioned how this course is 100% better than it was when it first re-opened, and I expect things to continue to improve. The fairways are decent, but the greens are excellent. The tee boxes need work and are bare in some parts; the clubhouse looks like it is undergoing a potential renovation, and there is no driving range.
Still, it looks like this club is working on improving it daily, and we are starting to see some benefits. It remains to be seen if this club can be an asset to the area, but if they can keep improving on some good fundamentals that the course has, premier designer, some memorable holes, and green conditioning in parts, this course could be even more of a draw. For now, it is a hidden gem.