Tijeras Creek Course Review
Located in the planned community of Rancho
Santa Margarita, adjacent to the O’Neill Park
open space area, Tijeras Creek has a private
club vibe without the pretentiousness.
It’s definitely a “tale of two nines” at this Ted
Robinson-design, and that’s not necessarily a
bad thing. The front nine is fairly typical of a
residential-development course, but the well-
treed holes are interesting and a pretty good
degree of privacy. The par threes on the front
are highlights – the 167-yard 5th is a scary
shot over water to an narrow, uphill-sloping
green while the 7th requires a longer shot
(again over water) of 225-yards from the back
tee but does allow for a bail out on the right.
That is of course if you don’t mind taking
The 9th is a mid-length par four that has
probably the prettiest tee shot on the front nine
with an “aiming bunker” that long hitters can
carry, leaving them within short iron distance to
an elevated green.
The back nine climbs you into and around
native brush areas with views of the O’Neil Park
and Saddleback Mountain as backdrops to
several holes. The 11th is a par-5 with an abyss
of the aforementioned natural space guarding
the right side and two bunkers seemingly
guiding you to safety (trouble is there is only
about 20 yards of fairway between them…)
The 12th is a short par four that has the
scariest tee shot on the course with native-area
hazards on both sides. I might be crazy, but I
think the safest shot for a straight hitter is a
driver, as the hole plateaus out and opens up at
the top of the hill.
The sharply downhill par three 14th is all-carry
over native area, but it has a generous green
and when you take into account the downhill
doesn’t require more than a short to mid-iron.
It’s one of those holes where if you strike it
well, you can let out a long exhale and enjoy
the “flight to safety”.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, I found a wide
variety of golf activities all around me. High
School players with serious short-game
prowess hitting flop-shots to the chipping
green. Golfers enjoying a view of the 18th
green from the outdoor deck. And a lot of
practice on the all-grass range (a major plus at
any public course, as far as I’m concerned).
The front nine is very walk-able, but
the back nine would require a bit too much
cart-path walking for my taste, so I would
recommend riding at Tijeras Creek. And greens
fees are reasonable; like many premium daily
fee facilities Tijeras Creek has an affinity
program called the “Creek Card” which provides
a nice savings if you expect to play there fairly
Oh, and by the way, at the 2nd
hole one of Tijeras Creek's staff members
approached us with an offer for a free beer
from the keg on his cart. "Just something we're
doing to keep you thinking of us," he said. One
of the members of my group suggested we
keep playing that hole...