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Things Heat Up on Back Nine

June 12, 2003|Pete Thomas

The drive: About 90 miles from downtown L.A.

Address: 7575 World Cup Road, Hemet. (909) 926-4653.

Rates: $30-$45, cart included. Walking is allowed only in special cases.

Overview: The course looks flat upon first glance, but once you set out you find plenty of substantial elevation changes, which is one of many pleasant surprises. In fact, you find a lot more variety than you might expect on a $30 course. Both par-threes on the front nine are scenic -- No. 4 requires an elevated tee shot to a two-tiered green and No. 7 is a longer hole pressed against a mountain.

On the back nine, playing Nos. 13-16 is a journey that includes a short par-five that tempts you to try to reach in two despite the presence of water just short and left of the green; a straightaway but narrow par-three; a 281-yard par-four that tempts you to try to drive the green, despite water all along the left side and a large bunker just short and right of the green; and a sharp dogleg left around a large, rocky hill that requires a drive as close to the hill as possible, for an easy pitch onto a sloped green .

Overall, this Schmidt-Curley-designed Landmark course, with large and undulating but firm and quick bentgrass greens, has a nice, open feel as it meanders through a rugged desert landscape. The only downside, besides the blazing summer heat, is the ongoing construction of homes along some of the fairways, mostly on the front nine. It's an easy driving course with tricky approaches. If your short game is on, you'll score well here.

Free tip: The greens don't hold particularly well and some of the holes play shorter than they look, so if you think you're between clubs, use the shorter one.

Nice touches: Upon arrival, you're given a small bag of golf balls and use of a country club-style practice range with grass tees. You'll never be at a loss to know your distance: The course has marked sprinkler heads, and the pins have special reflectors that show exact distance to those renting, for $15, the Laser Link guns that draw readings from the reflectors. GPS systems for the golf carts are on order.

Snapshot to remember: On any of the holes away from the construction, the vast expanse of rocky foothills is almost moonlike. Beyond this surreal landscape, according to the course brochure, are "the spectacular snow-capped peaks of the San Jacinto mountains." You'll have to wait several months to see that.

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