You Stay Classy, San Diego.

It was almost a year ago that I rediscovered my passion for the game of golf. It’s gotten even crazier since I started this blog in October. I’ve been traveling a lot, sampling a lot of new courses and exploring as much as possible. I enjoy the personal experiences at so many different courses and I’ve had a lot of fun sharing those experiences here on my little blog.

Earlier this week, I did a tally to see how many new courses I’ve played since last August and it’s pretty insane. Counting last weekend’s rounds down in North San Diego County, I have played 64 courses that I hadn’t played before! As I look ahead to the rest of 2012, I have set a little goal for myself. I want to make that number at least 100. Coincidentally, that will take my overall total of courses played up over 250. So needless to say, I’ve got a lot of work to do over these next six months.

With that in mind, there’s no time like the present. With the 4th of July falling on a Wednesday, I only got one day off from work, but I wanted to make the most of it. I’ve been playing more and more in San Diego County throughout the past year and there are many great courses yet to play, so you’ll be seeing plenty of reviews in the coming months.

Wednesday morning, I hit the road super early on my way to a “dawn patrol” round at the Carmel Highland Resort in San Diego. I got a decent “hot deal” price of $39 on GolfNow and figured I would check this course out.

Carmel Highland Golf Resort & Spa • San Diego, CA • 7/4/12

Note: This course is now closed.

I was paired with a threesome and we were the second group off the tee behind a foursome. The group ahead was very slow for being the first out and we were waiting on them for most every shot. The round overall took about 4:20 which is way too long when we’re the second group off.

Though the price was decent for a holiday morning round, the course was in rough shape. It is not a bad layout and does have a number of fun holes. Most of the fairways slope left or right (most slope to right), so you have to be careful off the tee or you’ll end up in the treeline or down a hill into a neighboring fairway. On and around the greens, though, it’s pretty forgiving course.

The course was looking pretty nasty. The fairways looked to be about 10 different grasses growing in all at once and no two lies seemed the same. There were plenty of bare spots and overall it just didn’t look very good out there. The greens also seemed to have plenty of splotchy (diseased?) areas, though the impact there was more visually displeasing. The greens looked a bit ugly, but played fine for the most part. Pretty soft and receptive that early in the morning, but rolled smooth and pretty quick on putts. The tee boxes were just as inconsistent as fairways. I didn’t find any sand traps myself, but judging from what my playing partners encountered, they looked very thin and crunchy.

There are a lot of good deals going at this course (the Sunday deal on Underpar.com is great), so it’s tolerable if you get a really good price, but there are many better options in the area I’d rather play. I won’t be rushing back to play here any time soon.

Some pictures from Carmel Highland Golf Resort (7/4/12):

Fortunately, that was not the last of my golf adventures on this 4th of July. I already had a second round booked for 12:32 at San Vicente Inn in Ramona, pretty much due east of where I played in the morning. I had plenty of time to get over there after the early morning round, so I was looking for a bite to eat. I passed all the usual fast food joints and nothing seemed too exciting. Then a building caught my eye and kind of made my day. I saw the sign that said “The Habit Burger Grill.” This is my favorite burger chain and I am glad to see that they keep expanding and opening new locations. I grabbed an early lunch (charburger with cheese and fries) and it was delicious as always. In my mind, In-N-Out, Fatburger and Five Guys can’t even hold a candle to The Habit!

San Vicente Inn & Golf Club • Ramona, CA • 7/4/12

I still got to the course early (around 11:30), even though it is pretty far out there (another 15 minutes or so past Mt. Woodson, which is already pretty far out there). It wasn’t too busy when I arrived, so they let me go out by myself around 11:45. I was stuck behind a very slow elderly couple, but there were plenty of groups in front of them so I didn’t push much. Another single caught up to me on the third tee and we joined up. He was a local and a member, so he knew a lot about the property and was helpful. That elderly couple ultimately then joined up with another twosome in front of them and they formed the SLOWEST foursome I’ve ever seen. I know they all joined up out of courtesy, but it didn’t pan out for anyone. They eventually let us pass at the turn, which was nice. We did run into other groups on the back, but it seemed to go quicker. All in all, the round took about four hours, so still not bad overall. 

This was another “hot deal” round booked through GolfNow and it was worth every penny at just $32! The weather was perfect here and not nearly as hot as I would have expected. Nice breeze blowing all afternoon and it’s a nice peaceful course environment as part of the San Vicente Resort and community. Though this course is near Mt. Woodson, it’s vastly different. Much flatter and wide open by comparison, but still relatively tight by most course’s standards. There are plenty of challenging angles, a few blind shots and a few good elevation changes to create good diversity between holes. Similar mountain scenery surrounds the course, as well, which presents many great views.

Overall, I really enjoyed the course layout and the conditions were very nice. The fairways were green and lush, with only a few dry/dead patches here and there. Nothing that affected play much. The rough was pretty consistent with a few dry areas on the outer edges. The rough was not too deep, but just enough to make you work. The greens were pretty soft and very nice. A tad bit slow, but the guy I played with explained that they keep the greens a little longer in the summer here to combat the heat. It keeps them nice and green, and the cuts were consistent, so once you figured out the speed you knew exactly what to expect from hole to hole. The tee boxes were decent, though a few were a little uneven. I hit into a couple of bunkers and they were a little thin. However, most of the bunkers here don’t have very big lips, so they are easy to get out of even with thinner lies. 

It was a great day on a very nice course, so I have no complaints at all. It was also a great deal, so I am glad I ventured all the way out there. Given the poor conditions of Mt. Woodson right now and similar pricing between the two courses, San Vicente is probably a much better choice if you are in the Ramona area this summer (even though I still prefer the more dramatic, fun and challenging Woodson layout if conditions are equal).

Some pictures from San Vicente Inn & Golf Club (7/4/12):

I got one good course and one bad one, but it was still another great day in the San Diego area and I know I will be back down there plenty of times. I keep having to go further and further to find courses that I haven’t played yet. That’s just fine with me, though, because I’m always up for another great golf adventure!

Until next time…

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