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FOCUS ON GOLF | THE TOURNAMENT PLAYERS CLUB AT VALENCIA

TPC Trademarks Everywhere

Road Trip / Tired of struggling to find a tee time in Los Angeles, then, if you do get one, playing 5 1/2-hour rounds on the weekend? If you don't mind getting behind the wheel for a while, there are plenty of courses in surrounding areas where tee times are available and the golf is worth the drive. Here's a look at some of those courses:

August 14, 2003|Andy Brumer

The drive: About 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Address: 26550 Heritage View Lane, Valencia. (661) 288-1912.

Rates: $100-$130 (cart included).

Overview: This is the only TPC course and club in California and everything about it, from the 29,000-square-foot California ranch-style clubhouse to the double-ended, three-tier practice range, feels as if the PGA Tour has come to town to stay. Green fees at the club, which also accepts private members, are on the high end, but they're in line with other local courses such as Robinson Ranch and Lost Canyons.

Designed by the PGA Tour Designs' chief architect, Chris Gray, and Mark O'Meara, the course winds gracefully through the foothills of the scenic Santa Clarita Valley. Greens are situated in amphitheaters, which has become a TPC trademark. The routing of holes loops around the many oak trees on the property in a relaxed and graceful manner. What's more, 152 acres of these oaks adjacent to the 16th through 18th holes will remain a permanent nature preserve.

The course has only 27 bunkers, but it is not short on trouble. Players have to drive it straight (down generously wide fairways) or lose their golf balls in the long grasses of the wild "environmentally sensitive" adjacent areas. The fairways present a wonderfully firm yet plush new strand of grass called "Tifsport Bermuda." The strength of the course lies in its blend of short, medium and long holes. Outstanding holes include the 614-yard third, a par-five with a smallish green tucked against the base of a hill, and the 469-yard par-four seventh, whose daunting fairway bunker at the right elbow of the dogleg challenges golfers to cure their slice tendencies in a hurry.

Free tip: Don't be intimidated by the tee shot on the tough 18th hole, which requires a carry over a ravine to a raised fairway that angles off to the right. If you're playing from the appropriate tees, you should have no problem clearing the trouble.

Nice touches: Range balls are free the day you play. Those rigorous enough to walk the hilly layout can rent a motorized pull cart.

Snapshot to remember: After a blind tee shot to a wide landing area on the uphill par-five, 515-yard 15th, long hitters will have a chance to reach the green in two. Everyone, however, will enjoy the view from this fairway.

-- Andy Brumer

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