Proof that affordable golf in San Diego is indeed a reality

By Mike BaileySeptember 2, 2010, 6:03 pm


Encinitas Ranch Golf Course
Encinitas Ranch Golf Course is a bargain course with views of the Pacific (JC Golf)

Ask almost any golfer what the ideal climate is for playing golf, and the answer almost always describes the year-round weather in San Diego.

Averaging just 10 inches of rain a year with daytime high temperatures usually in the 60s and 70s, it's like playing in air conditioning. Add that to the fact that there are close to 100 golf courses in San Diego, and it just makes sense to book a tee time and travel to San Diego for a golf vacation.

But like any prime destination, San Diego can be expensive. Many of the premium courses command green fees in the $200 range, and the resorts can run a couple of hundred dollars or more a night as well. But fear not; San Diego can be had on a budget. While there are plenty of premium golf resorts, there are also some hidden gems that may or may not have the conditioning of the high-dollar tracks, but they often make up for it in location and history -- and they are good values.

Look to San Diego's municipal golf courses

When you think municipal golf in San Diego, the first place that comes to mind, of course, is Torrey Pines. The 36-hole venue, which was renovated by Rees Jones, has hosted the U.S. Open (the South Course) as well as a PGA Tour event. These days, if you're an out-of-towner, though, you can expect to pay top dollar to play it, while local residents can still play the North and South courses for a song, relatively speaking.

Torrey Pines, however, isn't the only municipal game in town. And while the system's other two courses can't compare to Torrey Pines, they do have plenty of charm.

For more great travel tips, features and course reviews visit

For example, the 18-hole Balboa Park Golf Course is less than $50 for nonresidents. And while it isn't exactly long at just less than 6,300 yards, it is a classic William Bell layout in the heart of the city with great views of the downtown skyline. And it's just minutes from the convention center and Gaslamp District. Constructed in 1921, the course, as you might expect, rewards accuracy and patience.

City-operated Mission Bay Golf Course and Practice Center has only an 18-hole executive course, but its claim to fame will draw many visitors. The Ted Robinson design, which opened in the late 1950s, is where Tiger Woods grew up playing golf. The city also owns five other golf courses such as Mission Trails Golf Course and Presidio Hills Golf Course, which are operated by private companies and are fairly affordable.

Perhaps one of the best values in the San Diego area is another municipal golf course, Coronado Golf Course, which sits right on the San Diego Harbor. Owned and operated by the city of Coronado, you can play it at twilight for as little as $15, with regular green fees topping out at $35 on the weekend.

Stay and play at Barona Resort & Casino

While budget golf certainly has its appeal, finding good value is also an attractive option. One golf destination that might hold appeal for travelers is Barona Resort & Casino, located just outside of San Diego. While rack rates at Barona Creek Golf Club can be as high as $160, it can usually be played for considerably less, especially if you're staying at the hotel or if you're a high roller. At more than 7,000 yards, this very well-maintained golf course has more than 100 bunkers.

Salt Creek Golf Club, which used to be known as the Auld Course, is one of the better public values in the area. The only links-style golf course in San Diego, this Cary Bickler/John Cook design has generous fairways, rolling hills, three lakes, 78 bunkers and acres of lush wetlands as well as distant views of the Pacific Ocean. Also located in Chula Vista, Salt Creek's dynamic pricing means there are some real bargains during the week, although the regular green fees peak at $69 for nonresidents. The price does include rental cart.

More San Diego golf options

Another good option is Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, which also overlooks the Pacific Ocean but doesn't charge an arm and a leg for the view. For $45 to $85, Encinitas Ranch Golf Course features excellent conditions with wider fairways on the front and a little tighter layout on the back. It also has plenty of elevated tees and dramatic elevation changes.

Other quality courses with reasonable rates include Arrowood Golf Course in Oceanside, Twin Oaks Golf Course in San Marcos, and Cottonwood Golf Club in El Cajon.

Arrowood Golf Course is a Ted Robinson design that's always in excellent shape and can be played for less than $100. Twin Oaks Golf Course is also a Robinson layout that measures just more than 6,500 yards. And Cottonwood Golf Club has two 18-hole courses that are very reasonably priced and considered among the better bargains in the area. Both courses were designed by O.W. Moorman and A.C. Sears. The Lakes Course is a tight 6,248-yard par 71, while the Ivanhoe Course stretches out to more than 6,800 yards. Green fees peak at $60.

Getty Images

Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

Getty Images

Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

Getty Images

Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.