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San Diego Golf Course Review | Singing Hills at Sycuan Golf Resort | Sycuan Golf Club

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Singing Hills at Sycuan Golf Resort

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Golf (and more) at Sycuan Resort - by Martin Olivera

The first indication that you are about to enter a spectacular golf facility is the breathtaking view of the golf courses as you drive down the hills along Dehesa Rd, in the vicinity of El Cajon, California, only 30 minutes east of downtown San Diego. The combination of rocky hills and ancient trees gives the Sycuan Resort golf courses a feel of historical nature. Originally known as Singing Hills, these golf courses opened to public play in 1956. There are 50 years of golfing tradition that not many golf courses in San Diego County can be proud of. A tangible proof of this historical setting is the American colonial-style "white house" built in the early 1900's. This architectural relic was part of the "Las Piedras Ranch" and now serves as an administration building in the heart of the resort. Well preserved and fully restored, it has been the witness of the transformation of this scenic terrain from a vineyard -- and then olive -- ranch to a magnificent golf complex. It also witnessed devastation by fires in 1972 and 2003, and by flooding in 1980. But just like the Kumeyaay Nation that populated this land for many centuries, the house survived the tough times, and the golf courses endured and thrived.

When the courses were built in the 1950's, most of the 4,000 olive trees were redistributed throughout the property in an effort to preserve the natural setting that served as the cradle of 54 holes of golf. California oak and sycamore were added to the hilly landscape. The first 18-hole championship course to open in early 1956 was Oak Glen -- originally named East. This par-72 layout that measures 6,500 yards from the back includes the unusual distribution of three par-3 and three par-5 holes, to complement the 12 par-4's. Its smaller sister Pine Glen -- West -- was built concurrently, and consists of 18 par-3 holes. Its 2,500 yards are well balanced, including two holes over 200 yards, two just over 90, and everything in between. It truly is a fun layout for a family outing. Willow Glen, the third sister in the family and also an 18-hole championship course, opened in 1968. Also a par 72, its design includes the more traditional four par-5 and four par-3 holes, which combined with the par-4's extends the layout to over 6,600 yards. The Sweetwater River comes into play in many of the holes of these courses. Cecil Hollingsworth and David Fleming co-designed Oak Glen and Pine Glen, whereas William F. Bell, Ted Robinson Jr, and William P. Bell co-designed Willow Glen. The three courses underwent extensive renovation in 1980 by Robinson, and a bit more in 1991 by Fleming. Sycuan is the only Southern California resort with 54 holes of golf.

Hosting high-level golf competition is part of the tradition of the Sycuan Resort golf courses. For many years, all three layouts have been played by youngsters participating in the Junior World Championships, a major tournament for the minors that has taken place in San Diego every July since 1958. The United States Golf Association honored the exquisite design of Willow Glen by hosting the US Junior Amateur in 1973 -- won by local prodigy Jack Renner -- and in 1989 -- won by current PGA TOUR player David Duval. These courses have also been the venue of many collegiate events.

Golf instruction has always been an intrinsic part of this facility. Under the direction of notable PGA Professional Johnny Gonzalez, one of San Diego's prominent golf teachers, winner of many awards and long time supporter of junior golf, Sycuan Golf Academy offers many instructional programs for all levels of ability. One very popular instructional program is The School of Golf Exclusively for Women. It's golf instruction for women by women that was created in 1979, addressing physical and mental aspects of the game while learning basic and advanced golf playing skills.

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation purchased this golf property in 2001 and it became a much welcomed addition to the already established casino. The name change from Singing Hills reflects the deep historical roots the tribal members have toward the land that now is the Sycuan Resort. The resort, under new ownership, has been undergoing renovation of its infrastructure. Most notable are the interior redecoration of the restaurant and lounge which features a tribal atmosphere and includes artwork by Gene Locklear, and the sumptuous locker room. Among the many amenities offered by the resort are the soon to be expanded 113-room lodge with views to the golf courses, 11 lighted tennis courts, fine dining, conference rooms, and banquet facilities.

For more information about the Sycuan Resort and for all your golf information and outing needs in the San Diego area, visit San Diego Golf at

Click to book tee times, corporate golf events or read more information about Sycuan Golf Resort or any of "The 20 Best Golf Courses" in San Diego."

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