Where To Play Golf In San Diego


Where To Play Golf In San Diego

June 08, 2016

Photo By: Brian Oar & Aviara Golf Club - Hyatt

Photo By: Photo: Tim Stahl

Torrey Pines South Course

For prestige and beauty, it's hard to beat Torrey Pines, site of the epic 2008 U.S. Open (which Tiger Woods won on a broken leg) and the future site of the championship, in 2021. You will walk in the footsteps of many a famous golfer at this municipal track, named after the rare native pine that grows wild along this stretch of coastline. It's pricey ($229 on weekends) and requires some advance planning to procure a tee time (go to sandiego.gov for details), but it's worth it for the magnificent views, top conditions and championship history. Plus, there might not be a prettier par 3 than Torrey South's No. 3, which overlooks the Pacific from its cliff-top perch.

Torrey Pines North Course

Like its sister course, the North is a gem, with spectacular views and immaculate conditioning. The North course offers several holes situated high atop the cliffs that serve up panoramic views of the coastline—6 and 7 are particularly noteworthy. The North and South are both host sites of the annual PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open (only the South course is used for Saturday and Sunday play); the North also offers players a genuine taste of a tournament course, with its narrow fairways and often challenging weather conditions, but at a friendlier price.

Coronado Golf Course

This very busy, very picturesque municipal course offers a completely different waterfront golf experience than its coastal cousin, Torrey Pines. During the round, you'll see boats going by, with navy planes and helicopters buzzing overhead. But that's what makes it fun. It's a short hop from downtown, right over the Coronado Bridge. Players are treated to views of the bay, the marina, the Sand Diego skyline and the historic Hotel del Coronado. At 6,590 yards, the course is long enough for big hitters, and fairly open. Plus, it's in good shape for the number of rounds played annually.

Maderas Golf Club, Poway

This Troon-managed upscale daily-fee facility is a top-flight canyon course with a nice mix of long and short holes in lush desert surroundings. You're not on the ocean here, but there's no shortage of water, with five waterfalls and three lakes. Narrow fairways and carries over native areas make it a test, but with six sets of tees, you can pick your poison. For some cutting-edge fun, rent one of the course's new GolfBoards for your round. With its private club feel, excellent conditions and exceptional customer service, it's no wonder Maderas is on Golf Digest's list of America's 100 Greatest Public Golf Courses.

Park Hyatt Aviara, Carlsbad

This is scenic resort golf at its best, and an undeniably luxury experience from start to finish. With Aviara's beautifully manicured grounds, expertly landscaped with native wildflowers and attractive water features, you may feel like you're playing in the middle of a botanical garden. The layout features a nice assortment of par 3s, a memorable downhill par 5 (No. 8), and a tough finishing hole—a dogleg par 4 that wraps around water. To experience this Arnold Palmer design at its best, when the rough is high and the greens are fast, time your visit just before or after the LPGA Tour's Kia Classic, in March.

Photo By: Brian Oar & Aviara Golf Club - Hyatt

Omni La Costa Champions and Legends, Carlsbad

There are two 18-hole courses at this classic Carlsbad resort, each with a distinct look and set of challenges. The Legends is a spacious, open layout that provides just the right level of difficulty for a range of abilities. The Champions, dating to 1965, is an historic tournament venue that has hosted 37 PGA Tour events. Marked by staggered and stacked bunkering and tight fairways lined with mature trees, it plays more than 7,000 yards from the tips. Despite its pedigree, La Costa has added family tees and was named the No. 1 Family Golf Destination in the Country by Golf Digest.

The Grand Golf Club Del Mar at the Fairmont Del Mar

The experience is certainly grand at this exclusive Tom Fazio design that's open only to resort guests and members. Spread out on 380 acres in the hills north of San Diego, a little over 5 miles from Torrey Pines, the layout dips and climbs through Los Penasquitos Canyon, where Fazio let nature take its course. The cascading-waterfall finish adds to the wow factor. The Grand also features an enormous clubhouse with top amenities and a plush practice area with bunkers, chipping green and a double-ended range. fairmont.com/san-diego

Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Course, San Diego

Just 25 minutes north of downtown, RBI, as its known to locals, is a gracious, Spanish-style resort. The course was designed by William Bell, the architect of Torrey Pines, and features wide, forgiving, tree-lined fairways. Always in top condition, and with newly redone greens, RBI is fairly open and short (6,587 yards from the back), which makes it a great option if you're traveling with less experienced players, yet it's challenging enough for mid- to low- handicappers. The Inn's large outdoor verandah overlooks the course and is a favorite gathering spot for après-golf.

Barona Creek Golf Course, Lakeside

Set in the Barona Valley about 30 miles northeast of the city, this track is worth the drive, especially if you're looking for a secluded getaway with a casino on the premises. (The Barona Valley Ranch & Resort casino has 80 gaming tables and is known for blackjack.) Named a top casino course by Golf Digest, Barona Creek is also an Audubon Sanctuary course that blends beautifully with the native landscape of creeks, grasses and California oaks. It has 100 plus bunkers and an oak that splits the 1st fairway about 70 yards from the green.

Photo By: Photo: Tim Stahl

Balboa Park Municipal Golf Club

If you're looking for a good, inexpensive round, this is the spot. The course was built in 1921 by William Bell of Torrey Pines fame, and Sam Snead still holds the course record. From the 1st hole, it offers up beautiful views of the city. The greens are in great shape, and the course demands a nice variety of shots, including a few blind ones and uphill approaches. The club is a quick ride away from the airport, making it a great opening or closing round to a golf trip.
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