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Journey at Pechanga Opens in Temecula


The new course at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif., opened in mid-November. The par-72 Journey at Pechanga was designed by Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest. Debuting with the course was a 62,000-square-foot, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired clubhouse. The facility opened to the public on Friday, November 14th.

Among the attendees at the grand opening were U.S. Representative Joe Baca, Temecula's pro-tem mayor, Maryann Edwards, and the course's "touring pro," former U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, who took the ceremonial first tee shot.

In his opening remarks Pavin said it was an honor to represent Journey and commented on the quality of the course and its design. "This is the kind of golf course I would have liked to build. It is very natural. The holes are diverse. You've got long par-4s, short par-4s, shorter 3s and longer 3s and 'gambling' par-5s."

During the day Pavin drove around the course and played with the guests. When the rounds were completed he gave out prizes for the longest drives and closest-to-the-pin shots. "I truly believe it is one of the finest courses I have played," he said.

The course has already garnered the attention of the media, including magazines such as Fairways & Green, Fore Magazine, Golf World and Golf Digest. Golf magazine called Journey a "SoCal wine-country gem," a "cultural treat," and a "fun test of your desert-golf skills" in its November issue.

The history of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the project's developer, is reflected in the naming of the course, which comes from the Luiseño word "pomniv," meaning "the path that was once traveled." Each hole bears a tribal name. The course also features cultural exhibits that chronicle the history of the Pechanga people, including "kiicha" huts and other reminders of why the tribe considers the course "10,000 years in the making."

Tribal chairman Mark Macarro gave a historical perspective of the course during the opening, bringing out a century-old "shinny stick." Macarro told of how the shinny game was played for thousands of years by his people, pointing out the striking resemblance between a "shinny" and a golf club. The balls for the tribal game were also a similar size to that of a golf ball. Holding one up, Macarro said, "This was found in the vicinity of fairway two or fairway three."

Commented Pechanga Development Corporation president Amy Minniear at the ceremony: "It took hundreds, if not thousands of people to get this project together."

The clubhouse contains a restaurant called "Journey's End" with indoor and outdoor dining options. The building also features a three-story waterfall that ends at the entrance of the pro shop on the lower floor. Various other spaces are available for weddings, banquets and tournaments, with a vast patio offering indoor and outdoor fire pits.

The general manager of the adjoining Pechanga Resort & Casino, Steven Penhall, said, "this course is destined to be one of the finest in the country, and the clubhouse is architecturally the best I have ever seen."

Located in the Temecula Valley, Southern California's so-called "Wine Country," Journey at Pechanga is the newest addition at the Pechanga Resort & Casino, which boasts gaming, a hotel, headline entertainment and dining.

"Having the golf course will bring in a lot of other individuals from San Diego and the San Bernardino/Riverside areas," said Congressman Baca, whose recent bill to establish a federal Native American Heritage Day was signed into law just last month.

Hills spoke about the care to the native landscape taken to build the course and how its design ultimately became part of the environment, rather than reshaping it. "It was a real challenge to build Journey at Pechanga," he explained. "Areas we were directed to keep intact and remain inviolate ended up resulting in a course with holes that are about as exciting as it gets."

Journey's layout features 300 feet of elevation and offers vistas of the Temecula Valley. It winds across a dry wash of the Pechanga River, which golfers cross via wooden bridges. One of the course's signature holes is the sixth, which plunges almost 200 feet from the back tees to the fairway. "The hang time there is stupendous," said co-designer Forrest.

Journey ranges in length from 4,852 yards to 7,219 yards. "It's challenging for the really good players, but everybody can have fun," said Pavin. It also features carts outfitted with a GPS system.

For addition information or a tee time, call 866/991-7277 or 951/770- 4653. More details are also found at www.journeyatpechanga.com.