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Order Up a Round on the Rocks

February 20, 2003

Tired of struggling to find a tee time in Los Angeles, then, if you do, 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 new courses in surrounding counties where tee times are available and the golf is worth the drive. Here's a look at some of those courses.


The drive: About 51 miles from downtown L.A.

Address: 7151 Sierra Ave., Riverside. (909) 685-1440.

Rates: $65-$90.

Overview: Ever see those calendars of impossible golf holes, with miniature, sloping greens perched atop cliffs and tee boxes at impossible angles with carries over ravines deep enough to expose the underworld? That's kind of what Oak Quarry looks like at first glance. But look more closely, because this layout, spread over 219 acres around the old Jensen quarry, is just as imposing, but actually a fair, playable, worth-a-return-round track.

There are 18 individual holes here, rarely adjacent to one another. The course climbs comfortably through the Jurupa Mountains around and through a quarry that traces back to the early 1900s, one that supplied 88 minerals and much of the marble and limestone used in building up Southern California. The quarry has been idle since 1979, but it's now being used as an almost surreal backdrop to this layout.

The 14th hole, a par three from an elevated tee, drops to a green that is framed by a white limestone rockface that rises 225 feet from the pond that has filled in the bottom of the quarry. When the sun is right, the face of the rock, once called the "Great White Rock" nearly glows.

The course is kept in excellent condition, a par 72 with four sets of tees from 7,002 yards to 5,408. The par fours aren't exceptionally long, only four of more than 400 yards from the tournament tees, but there is constant variety and plenty to challenge any golfer. Fairways are fairly generous, despite initial appearances.

This is rattlesnake country, so when you do smack your ball into the brush, be careful, particularly as the weather warms up.

Free tip: Don't go near the cliffs around the heart of the quarry; just say goodbye to any ball you hit in there. The only way you're going to retrieve a bad tee shot there is with pitons, crampons and repelling ropes.

Nice touches: Free bag of range balls with your tee time.

Snapshot to remember: You might want to linger for a minute on the 14th tee, glancing across at Riverside's version of the white cliffs of Dover.

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