The 10 Best Golf Courses in San Diego
May 8, 2018
It’s no secret that San Diego has arguably the best weather for golf in the continental United States. Fortunately, this little slice of Southern California heaven also offers an impressive portfolio of courses. From U.S. Open venues to ocean-view resorts and courses with spectacular elevated tees, the best golf courses in San Diego area has you covered.
Perhaps all discussions of best golf courses in San Diego, however, start with one of the country’s most storied municipals, Torrey Pines Golf Course, designed by William F. Bell and later renovated by Rees Jones. A bargain for locals (who pay a fraction of what out-of-towners pay), Torrey Pines, located along the bluffs above the Pacific just north of San Diego, is the host of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, and was the site (South Course) of Tiger Woods’ 14th major win, the 2008 U.S. Open, in which he beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff. The next door North Course, recently renovated by Tom Weiskopf, is more playable than the demanding South, but nevertheless splits duty each year as a host the town’s yearly PGA Tour event, the Farmers Insurance Open.
Torrey Pines is just one of several outstanding golf properties along the Pacific Coast near San Diego. In Carlsbad, there’s La Costa Resort & Spa, which has played host to numerous LPGA and PGA Tour events over the years. Much more than golf, La Costa incorporates the wellness philosophy of Dr. Deepak Chopra, has an outstanding teaching fitness programs, and wonderful accommodations and dining. The two courses – the Champions and the Legends Course – have undergone renovations in recent years as part of a $50 million dollar overall improvement program at this storied resort.
Just down the road from La Costa is Aviara Golf Club at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort. It’s the only Arnold Palmer design in the area, but this course is as much botanical garden as it is golf. Overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon just a hundred yards or so from the Pacific Ocean, the course moves up and down hills and around seven lakes, presenting an unforgettable variety of lies and scenery. And Also close is the Tom Fazio-designed Grand Golf Club, which is next to the the 400-acre Fairmont Grand Del Mar resort. Fazio used his signature bunkering to frame holes and protect greens. The par 3s are particularly strong, offering a great variety and one of the toughest holes on the course, the par-3 17th, which can play as long as 242 yards over water.
Not all of the best golf courses in San Diego are within view of the coast, however. Many claim Maderas Golf Club has the best views of any course in the area. Located in Poway, this Johnny Miller-Robert Muir Graves design has five waterfalls, three lakes and more than 40 acres of wildflowers and one elevated tee after another. Barona Creek is another course that doesn’t need the ocean to be great. Built on the Barona Indian Reservation in 2001, Barona Creek was designed by Todd Eckenrode, who really did craft the course around all handicap levels. The golf course is also a Bronze Signature Sanctuary Course of Audubon International, and you certainly get that sense of nature when playing it.
And finally, there are some municipal courses with coastal views that fly under the radar a bit. The Greg Nash-designed Crossings at Carlsbad, for example, is an upscale municipal, that features views of both the mountains and Pacific.
Encinitas Ranch has elevated tees as well as some distant ocean views, plus the course is super playable. Salt Creek Golf Club in Chula Vista, has one of the best par 5s in the area as well as views of Mount Miguel and the Pacific Ocean on a couple of holes.
And last, but not least, there’s the popular Coronado Golf Course, which is just minutes from San Diego International Airport. It’s right on the water next to the Coronado Bridge with sailboats and downtown San Diego in the background. Not only considered one of the best golf courses in San Diego, it’s also one of the best bargains so tee times aren’t easy to get, but well worth the effort.