Don't be fooled by short Mt. Woodson Golf Club in San Diego
- Mike Bailey
- Nov 30, 2011 12:00 AM ET
RAMONA, Calif. -- At just less than 6,000 yards, you might think Mt. Woodson Golf Club wouldn't pose much of a challenge. Not only would that be inaccurate, but also the Lee Schmidt-Brian Curley par-70 design might be one of the most interesting golf courses you'll come across.
Located about a half-hour northeast of San Diego, Mt. Woodson Golf Club is a visual delight. There are plenty of elevated tees, lakes, ponds, unusual bunkering, quirky greens and a great variety of holes. There's even an almost 500-foot wooden cart bridge that will remind of you of an old-fashioned roller coaster, which is symbolic of the way the golf course plays.
While many of the holes are short, especially the par 4s, Mt. Woodson isn't easily overpowered. To be successful golfers will need to think their way around the course. Hybrids, even irons, are called for off the tee on many of the holes to set up wedge shots to the greens.
The course has what amounts to a number of signature holes. The par 3s are particularly stunning. The third is a 182-yarder that plays from an elevated tee to a green perched on the edge of a hillside. The sixth has large pond in front of and to the left of the green. And the 16th is set against the backdrop of a view of the entire surrounding valley.
But the hole most golfers will talk about it is the 17th, a downhill par 4 from a tee that's one of the highest points in San Diego County. This 335-yard dogleg left is drivable if you're lucky, depending on what kind of bounce you get in front of the green or in between the ancient boulders that guard the entrance.
"You can hit 3-iron off the tee," said General Manager Grant Wingate. "But what fun would that be."
The golf course finishes with a dynamite par 4. At 407 yards, a good drive is critical to set up a shorter approach to an undulated green fronted by water and well protected by bunkers.
The semi-private Mt. Woodson doesn't have a driving range, but it does offer a putting green as well as a warm-up area. In addition, there's a well-stocked golf shop, snack bar and the golf carts have GPS.
The building behind the clubhouse -- the 90-year-old Mt. Woodson Castle -- will also amaze visitors. The former residence of Irene Amy Strong is one of the most popular sites in the San Diego area for weddings. The multi-level, 12,000-square-foot home has 27 rooms, including a 72-foot long living room, a 16-foot ceiling, sitting room, swing porch, pantry, four fireplaces, a Dutch oven, dumb waiter, complete intercom system and a gasoline-engine-assisted windmill.
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