Tijeras Creek Course Review
01 Jun 2022
by Pete Wlodkowski of

see also: Tijeras Creek Golf Club, All Course Reviews

Tijeras Creek, Hole No. 14 (Preston Hammontree photo)
Tijeras Creek, Hole No. 14 (Preston Hammontree photo)

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 a 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 bailout on the right. That is of course if you don’t mind taking bogey.

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 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 walkable, 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 often.

Oh, and by the way, at the 2nd hole one of Tijeras Creek's staff members approached and offered us 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...

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