El Nino has brought much-needed rain and snow to Northern California, but the torrential rains, for the most part, have missed Southern California. That’s caused greenkeepers at the Journey at Pechanga to carefully manage their water hazards.

While we have been enjoying lush green hillsides for months in Northern California, watching reservoirs fill significantly this month, the state water managers are still quite cautious, encouraging continued conservation. For golf course superintendents, that means carefully managing the precious resource.

In Southern California, for instance, at the Journey at Pechanga in Temecula, the greens keepers watch the forecast carefully and adjust the water levels of two large water features on the course to capture rainfall. The course routing takes it up and down a ridge on the west side of the resort. Course designer Arthur Hills and his team designed the drainage so the hazards can capture significant amounts of rainfall.

For golfers familiar with the Course at Wente Vineyards and San Juan Oaks in Hollister, the terrain at the Journey will be familiar—oak-studded ridges, large sycamore trees along Pechanga Creek and challenging holes with some forced carries (plenty of those at Pechanga). It’s a course that I love to play when I am in the area.

No. 5  features stream guarding the green over a lake

No. 5 features stream guarding the green over a lake

The Journey team, when rain is forecast, siphons water out of the hazards so they can catch the rain. It can be a significant amount of water. When the lakes are full, they hold enough water to meet the daily water needs of 46,108 households of four. A heavy storm can fill the lakes to their capacity, about 18.5 million gallons.

One lake is the major feature on No. 5 that starts up the ridge, while another is fed by a stream that divides the fairway on No. 13 and is the dominant hazard on the par 3 15th and the par 4 16th.

This year, Temecula has received about 8 ½ inches, about two-thirds of its normal season total. For comparison, rainfall totals in the last decade have ranged from nearly 33 inches to less than four inches there.

During the dry season, the water hazards are filled with recycled water from purple pipes, which also irrigate the course.