Willow Glen Course
We made the short 3-hour drive from Yuma to El Cajon, CA through a stretch of highway that climbed from sea level to over 4,000 feet. One 20-mile section known as the Mountain Empire area was some of the most incredible landscape we’ve ever driven through in the USA. Each peak from the base to the top was completely covered in massive boulders and rocks of various sizes, a rather surreal lunar like look.
Leaving the interstate to arrive at our destination of Singing Hills Golf Resort at Sycuan, the road was winding, meandering slowly along for about 30 minutes down into the valley with homes and small private properties along this road.
When we turned onto the road the GPS showed for the golf resort, we thought perhaps it had brought us to the casino as the huge parking lot was full. Later we would find out that on Super Bowl Sunday the 2 – 18-hole courses, Willow Glen and Oak Glen as well as the 18-hole Par 3 course Pine Glen, had hosted over 400 players.
After checking into our room at the resort, we made the pretty quarter mile walk along the 17th and 18th of the Par 3 Pine Glen course to check out the range, practice greens, pro shop, golf academy, restaurant and yes, a sports lounge. The range was packed with a group of about 25 Korean golfing students who were staying on site honing their game.
After an afternoon of boring football, we headed back to our room in awe of the hills surrounding this valley which had beautiful homes perched perilously upon them. Singing Hills sits on the valley floor and as a result the back drop in all directions are the dramatic steep hills laden with large boulders and foliage.
We monitored the weather apps on our smart phones and paid strict attention to the following days forecast which by all accounts was going to be wet and rainy. We awoke to a wet morning and some showers persisted, but there were some patches of sunlight breaking through which lifted our spirits.
After breakfast we made our way to the clubhouse where I met with Jason Schneider in his office. He provided some valuable information about the history of the facility and the positive direction it is taking. He stated that at 8 years and counting his tenure was one of the shortest of the key full-time personnel. Other colleagues of his had 20, 30 and even 40 years of employment at Singing Hills which is a testament to the allure of this beautiful valley and more likely the benefits and rewards of working here.
Singing Hills Golf Resort is one of the most female friendly operations you will find anywhere with “THE School of Golf Exclusively for Women” taught by women for women. The pro shop is one of the most stylish and well stocked for women you will find anywhere. Over half of it filled with ladies’ garments, apparel, accessories and footwear.
It’s probably why Myra was beaming as she walked out with a very attractive pair of slacks and a stylish hat while I got a ball marker. With a total of over 100 years teaching experience and an army of qualified instructors Singing Hills is perfectly set up for golfers wanting to dramatically improve and at the same time be spoiled by a resort environment.
After a short warm up we headed onto the Willow Glen course and although there had been a fair bit of wind and rain throughout the night and early morning it was no longer an issue. The sun was peaking through the clouds. Any fallen debris we just brushed away or kicked aside. There was only one small area on the 8th fairway where casual water prevailed.
The course was a great challenge with fairly wide landing areas allowing me to use driver frequently. The various types of doglegs demanded a well-placed ball to insure the right angle to attack the flag. There was a multitude of species of large trees some still void of their leaves this time of year, others like pines were a lovely green. Other than letting 2 guys through who were motoring along pretty good, we played at a very relaxed and steady pace. The surrounding hills are a spectacular backdrop to many drives and approach shots. Woodpeckers tapped, tapped, tapped away and silly little marmots scampered across the outlaying areas. There was the odd area off to the sides that had little or no grass, but when I lived in St Andrews an old Scot would say, “If you want a great lie laddie hit it on the wee fairway”.
The greens in a word were fantastic. Bent grass which held the ball from any distance and rolled perfectly. The surrounding bunkers were delicious to come out of with the sand that perfect texture for the often required “splash” shot.
Many of the holes were right there in front of you, often the green visible from the tee even on the Par 5’s. The Par 4 4th hole with the green positioned across a small pond was breathtaking from its elevated tee some 70-80 feet above the fairway below. We stopped to speak with Daniel, one of the greenkeepers, who was receptive to our ooo’s and ahhh’s about the hole. He said the best was yet to come and to be ready for the Par 3 12th. What a gem of a hole we came upon after playing the Par 4 11th another one that looked great from tee to green. A flock of ducks greeted us as they splashed about in the large pond that lay between the tee box and the green. The two tiered green flanked by a waterfall that cascaded down from the right side looked awesome with mounds and a bunker framing the green on the left. A Par 3 that could appear on any televised golf broadcast and receive rave plaudits from all.
The Par 4 14th is another testy, unique dogleg with the fairway sloping upward to an elevated green. Then the Par 4 15th falls back down the hill in the opposite direction. Play them smartly and you will do as I did and par them both. Getting to 18 after a very fair Par 5 17th, you finish the back nine as you do the front with a Par 3.
Not the usual, but none the less part of golf. It was Myra who parred them both and I thought that it was fitting a shorter hole to end a great round. Her 2-par day is always a solid accomplishment and my 9 pars and an 83 was nothing to sneeze at either. We finished in a short 3 and half hours allowing for Myra to dedicate the time deserved for a selective shopper to find what they want.
While she shopped, I got to know a very personable and helpful young man, Ryan Sameli, manning the pro shop counter. His warm nature and mature outlook will carry him a long way in his chosen path and you could tell he was a very proud and knowledgeable employee.
We have our sights set on a whole week here next winter, perhaps signing up for one of the 2-day Couples Academy packages. Whatever your golfing needs are with 54 holes of golf located in a vibrant, natural environment as well as the nearby Sycuan Casino, Singing Hills Golf Resort is truly outstanding and affordable. Come and enjoy.
Phone: (800) 457-5568