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SPORTS WEEKEND

Southland Focus

June 19, 1998|MIKE JAMES, 12 handicap

A weekly look at golf courses open to the public in Southern California.

PALA MESA RESORT

Address: 2001 Old Highway 395, Fallbrook.

Phone: (760) 731-6803.

Green fees: $55-$70, including cart.

Tee times: Seven days in advance.

The facility: A full-service resort with 133 rooms is surrounded by a classic tree-lined course that has character, variety and challenges throughout. There's a full teaching staff based in the pro shop, plus a Golf Digest instructional school.

The good: The course is maintained in excellent condition, with fast, true greens nicely guarded by bunkers that were renovated a year ago. The well-trimmed fairways are framed by rough that does what it's supposed to--make shots more difficult. Several good views from elevated tees. Virtually every hole offers a challenge, particularly No. 3, which has a landing area from the tee of only 30 yards at its widest, and No. 15, which requires a well-placed tee shot and long iron into an elevated green. Take your par and be happy on either hole.

The bad: Very little to complain about here, unless you spray your tee shots, in which case you'll need to a) work on those punched recovery shots from the trees and b) stock a few extra balls in your bag.

The score: This is the kind of course you can play frequently without getting bored. Frustrated, perhaps, if you're not playing well, but never bored. Good scores are earned here. Keep an eye for very reasonably priced stay-and-play packages.

*

Overall rating: 3 1/2 balls.

*

* One ball: No-frills golf.

** Two balls: Worth an occasional round.

*** Three balls: Like shooting four strokes under your handicap.

**** Four balls: Where the golf gods play.

*--*

Hole Back Tees Middle Tees Par Front Tees 1 407 391 4 351 2 473 461 5 451 3 396 378 4 357 4 189 166 3 145 5 312 290 4 255 6 397 372 4 342 7 183 159 3 145 8 525 495 5 458 9 418 378 4 347 Out 3,300 3,090 36 2,851 10 480 464 5 430 11 304 292 4 276 12 501 473 5 439 13 403 376 4 336 14 173 151 3 136 15 416 401 4 340 16 155 143 3 133 17 351 334 4 316 18 419 407 4 375 In 3,202 3,041 36 2,781 Total 6,502 6,131 72 5,632

*--*

Rating/Slope: Black--71.0/124, Middle--68.4/118, Front--73.7/128

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