PELICAN HILL GOLF CLUB – Newport Coast, CA
A – Playability & Challenge
A – Quality of Course
A – Memorability
A+ – Service Levels
A – Pro Shop
A+ – 19th Hole Experience
A – OVERALL EXPERIENCE
(1/16/10 – Written by Jim Allen) … The phrase “new and improved” is typically used to launch re-engineered products such as ketchup squeeze bottles, laundry soap and mac and cheese — not high-end golf courses. However, in recent years, Pelican Hill Golf Club, located on the picturesque Newport Coast in Southern California, has taken “new and improved” to a whole new level. It evolved from a pair of premier high-end golf courses to a full-blown luxury resort – Pelican Hill Resort; one that even Warren Buffet would be proud to check into.
If you hit the rewind button to 2006, the Irvine Company shut down Southern California’s premier courses for two years so they could construct a massive six-star resort. The facility and courses reopened in November of 2008 and now Pelican Hill is not only “new and improved,” but “impressive and awe-inspiring.” They took the word “resort” to the next level also.
Among the additions were 75 additional bunkers, a reworked environmentally friendly irrigation system, some minor course changes, 128 villas, 204 bungalows, five restaurants, three pools and an extremely long list of celebrity-worthy amenities. The hand laid million-piece mosaic tile coliseum pool probably was worthy of the extra star in the SIX-STAR hotel rating, if anything, just for keeping the tile-setters union in business for a couple of years. The massive pool stretches 136-feet across and with its individual cabana backdrop, looks like something Julius Caesars dreamed up.
Everything at Pelican Hill comes with a price tag on steroids. But let me make one thing perfectly clear: You will never leave Pelican Hill with the feeling that you didn’t get your monies worth. If you want pumped up ocean views, you are in the right place. If you want killer golf courses and over-the-top service, few do it better.
There are two Tom Fazio designed 18-hole courses on the property, the ocean-skimming South Course, and the historically top 100 rated North Course. Both are very challenging, and to keep double-bogeys off your card, you can’t be intimidated by any of the many forced carries. And back to those aforementioned 75 bunkers — like in 75 more ways to get in trouble! This is where investing in a forecaddie comes in handy to help keep you away from them. From personal experience, I will admit that hitting out of them isn’t such a bad thing either. They didn’t just fill those babies with some thick run of the mill beach sand. It’s 75% Augusta White and the balance U.S. tan, making it white in appearance and easy to “splash” out of if your sand-play is up to par.
For ocean courses, the greens are perfect, extremely fast and they roll very straight and true. The key to scoring well is landing your approach shot on the right level on the greens. Most are multi-tiered and the wrong tier usually results in three putt scenario as you try to delicately navigate your ball down a four-foot turtle back. In fact, an un-named playing partner (to protect the guilty) proved that theory correct by four-putting one green.
The tenth through the 13th holes on the South course run to the ocean and include a pair of back-to-back par 3’s that can give Pebble Beach’s famous 7th hole a run for its money. Another mutual ingredient that both courses share is that the back nine’s are a lot tougher than the front. When you finish, you either got the best value for your money, or the best value per stroke. (Figure it out!)
To support the overall Pelican Hill experience is SIX-STAR service levels. It begins when you valet park your car. In fact, they have a service to wash your car while you are playing if you so desire. You will never pass one of their associates without a smile or offering a service or help. Tee times and names are posted in new carts that feature a seat worthy of a luxury sedan. The Glenn Deck practice facility is in immaculate condition and the Nike One Platinum balls on the range were better than anything I had in my bag.
And although this is technically a golf course review, I must briefly talk about the new resort. As a guest, you have your choice of the ultra-private Villa Club or ocean view bungalows. The Villa Club features 2, 3, & 4 bedroom layouts, some as large as 3580 square feet. They are served by their own private staff. Throw in a private clubhouse, dining room, fitness center, infinity pool and cabanas, whirlpool span and you can feel like a king for a day. And bring your VISA card, because it will cost you a king’s ransom of about $2700 a night.
The “new and improved” Pelican Hill Resort is very worthy of its new SIX-STAR rating and the many accolades it has received in both golf and travel magazines. If you want to experience the full Monte golf and resort experience, then this reviewer is pointing you in the direction of the Newport Coast. Hope to see you there! …