San Diego Golf: Chart Your Own Course

There are more than 90 golf courses in San Diego County, which provides a wide variety of golfing experiences. Here are three to consider:

Barona Creek Golf Club

Best course for a guys’ getaway
The Barona Creek Golf Club offers everything a guy could want — an outstanding golf course, good food, gaming and lodging. Golfweek Magazine recently rated Barona No. 4 on its 2011 list of the Top 10 California Courses. Built on the Barona Indian Reservation (approximately 30 minutes east of downtown San Diego), the 7,448-yard, par-72 course was designed to incorporate the contours of the land and allow golfers to experience the natural surroundings. Lakes and ponds are fed by natural streams and come into play frequently, as do many of the 100 strategically-placed bunkers. The bent-grass greens set the course apart from most others in Southern California. The Barona Casino is among the nicest in the region, and it includes 11 restaurants that cover a wide range of dining experiences. The property also includes a 400-room hotel, so you can stay just a few steps from all of the action.

Coronado Golf Course

Best course for the money
A Golf Digest writer called Coronado Golf Course “a gem I consider the best value in the United States.” The course is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of San Diego. The front nine at the par-72, 6,590-yard course features views of the downtown San Diego skyline, boats in San Diego Bay and, of course, the Coronado Bridge. The sights on the back nine include the Hotel Del Coronado as well as boats sailing in and out of Glorietta Bay. The value comes from greens fees of $30 for weekdays and $35 on weekends for both locals or out of town visitors. Greens fees are so reasonable because the land is leased from the Port District and Coronado is limited contractually in what it can charge golfers.

Presidio Hills Golf Course

Best course to take kids or beginners
All of the holes at Presidio Hills Golf Course are shorter than 100 yards — the longest is the 94-yard fifth hole — making Presidio the perfect place for a family outing or introducing someone to the game. There is enough length for kids and beginners to take full swings, but its short enough that they’ll get to the green without too much effort. On the green, putting offers a different test of skill and the accomplishment of getting in the hole. Pace of play is such that groups won’t feel rushed, allowing time to snap a couple of pictures or offer some instruction. Even if you take your time, it’s easy to play a round in less than two hours. The course borders Old Town, which is a good place to find lunch or dinner afterwards.


Presidio Provides a Little History Lesson, a Lot of Fun

Presidio Hills Golf Course in Old Town opened in 1932, making it one of the oldest par-3 courses in the United States.

For those accustomed to playing a full-length championship golf course, Presidio Hills Golf Course may not seem like much at first glance. But dismissing it would be a big mistake.

“It’s a special place,” said Presidio head golf professional Paul Bush. “There’s a lot of history here.”

Presidio is one of the oldest par-3 courses in the country. It was built in 1932 under the direction of notable golf course architect William Park Bell, who didn’t make a hole over 100 yards — the 94-yard fifth hole is the longest — but did use the hollows and hills to provide a challenging short-game experience for advanced golfers without discouraging beginners.

A young golfer tees off on Presidio’s 39-yard first hole.

The clubhouse, known as La Casa de Carrillo, is a registered Historical Landmark. Home to Josefa Carrillo after being built in 1802, it is the oldest adobe dwelling in San Diego. Even if you’re in a hurry to get on the course, make sure to spend a few minutes reading the newspaper clippings on the wall. You’ll be interested to learn about the course’s history as well as the notable players whose footsteps you’re following.

The roots to San Diego’s renowned junior golf program run through Presidio. And, in fact, the course hosted some of the best junior golfers in the world from 1968-2002 in the 10-and-under flight of the Junior World Golf Championships. Phil Mickelson won a title there in 1980, Tiger Woods won in both 1984 and 1985 and Lorena Ochoa won in 1990, ’91 and ’92.

Bush said Mickelson still brings his children out to play the course now and then. Memories no doubt bring Mickelson back, but the relaxed pace of play is what appeals to many golfers.

“A lot of boyfriends bring their girlfriends,” said Bush. “And, of course, families. This is a huge family place. Our goal is to share it with people, get them here and get the course back to where it should be.”

The city-owned course was operated by the Abrego family for more than 70 years. It fell into disrepair over the past decade under different management. New general manager Justine Lee has been the driving force behind improvements to get the course back in shape. He had the 11th, 12th and 13th holes rerouted, the tee boxes improved and greens redone, fresh signage put in place and some equipment replaced, all indications of the course again being cared for. Bush is making an effort to expand play for tournaments and special groups, but what he really enjoys is introducing kids to the course. Junior clinics and lessons and summer classes are available to local kids as well as those visiting from out-of-town with their parents. Information is available by calling the course at 619-295-9476 or going to the Presidio Hills website.

A grand opening party was held by the new management at Presidio on Saturday to reintroduce the course to the community. Among the children and families enjoying the afternoon during Saturday’s grand opening party were a couple of tourists from Phoenix. Joseph and Ann Lemaitre’s visit to Presidio Park for 18 holes in the afternoon seemed as important as the one they had planned later in the day to PETCO Park to watch the Phillies and Padres for nine innings.

“We really enjoy the course,” said Joseph Lemaitre. “We try to play here whenever we come to town.”