FALLBROOK, Calif. -- The old cliche "It's not where you start, it's where you finish that counts" certainly applies to the 6,502-yard golf course at Pala Mesa Resort.
Once players get past the first two holes, which are relatively flat, the course, designed by William H. Johnson in the 1960s, takes on a more dynamic personality. There's more movement in the land, more strategy in the shot-making and more striking views of the rocky hillsides that make the resort such a popular getaway.
As the 10th fairway climbs to an elevated green, Pala Mesa's back nine becomes a joyride. The adjacent highway doesn't spoil the splendor of these holes, many of them doglegs through towering sycamore and oak trees.
Most Golf Advisor reviews give Pala Mesa's golf course four stars, but user robert9175031 gave it five stars in November of 2016, writing: "The course was in perfect condition and the greens were tricky fast. The best I've seen the course in 2 years."
Pala Mesa Resort sometimes gets lost in the shuffle hidden in Temecula wine country between LAX (105 miles) and San Diego International Airport (58 miles). All 132 rooms of the 205-acre resort spread out among lodge-style buildings either along the first couple of fairways or tucked into the hills a short ride/long walk from the main lobby of the hotel and golf shop. A renovation of the rooms and the Aquaterra restaurant should be completed by the end of 2017. An already good stay-and-play getaway should get even better.