I ended up down in the San Diego area again this morning, even though the traffic coming back is always brutal. San Clemente is always one big parking lot on Sunday afternoons and it’s never fun, but sometimes you have to make that sacrifice for good golf.
The reason I went to Woods Valley is because I had my next Greenskeeper.org GK Cup match lined up. I didn’t win and I won’t expand on that, but I am very satisfied with the run I made this year! Definitely a better showing than my first two attempts.
Unlike many courses I play, this was not my first time playing Woods Valley. However, the only other time I played it was probably 7-8 years ago, so I didn’t mind checking it out again. I remember liking it a lot back then and was hoping it would hold up after getting to explore so many other courses since. I think it held up quite well.
Woods Valley is in Valley Center (just north of Escondido) and off the beaten path a bit, but like many other North/East San Diego County Courses, it’s one I don’t mind going a little out of the way for. One of the reasons we chose this course was because of the good deal they just started up. $40 for any time on a Sunday from now through the rest of the football season—that’s hard to beat. We teed it up at 7:42 as a foursome, with a couple other GKers joining along. The starter said the tee sheet was really full, but we never had to wait too much on the group ahead of us and we never saw a group behind us, so we were able to set our own relaxed pace.
The only thing I really remember from my first visit here is that I liked the back nine more than the front. Again, memory served me well because that is still the case. However, I found the front nine much more enjoyable this time than I expected. The 3rd hole is a beautiful par-3 over water and the whole front nine is a very, very solid layout.
The back nine, however, does get more interesting starting with the tricky par-4 10th. It’s short, but the elevated green is well protected by bunkers and water comes into play all along the left of the fairway. Several of the green complexes get a bit more dynamic on this side, as well, with some more undulation. They had some really tough pin placements on the back, so they really tested our short games.
To me, holes 13-16 make up the highlight stretch of Woods Valley as it’s a brief departure from the rest of the course. These holes are set back in a nice secluded woodsy area full of big old oak trees. Other than the giant desert boulders that are so prevalent on the rest of this course and many other nearby courses, there a bit of a Central Coast vibe on these holes. I just like the look and feel of them a lot.
There’s no doubt I enjoy this course a lot, but current conditions are just “OK” in my opinion. Not the prettiest it has or will ever look, but very playable. The fairways and rough had plenty of thin/bare areas. It seemed fairly dried out and brown here in summer, but I mostly encountered good lies on fairways. The rough was cut down quite a lot, so it wasn’t much of a factor. Around the greens, though, it was a bit thicker and more difficult to contend with on chips. The greens had a lot of old ball marks and some bumpy spots here and there, but the surfaces were mostly quite nice—very smooth and quick. Our group was making long putts all over the place, so something was working. I was in one bunker on the front and it had excellent sand.
For the price right now on a Sunday morning, you won’t find too many better deals than Woods Valley. This is a very enjoyable course that’s in good playable condition right now. I’d love to see this course in really great shape someday because it could really be a wonderful hidden gem. Whether the secret gets out or not, I’ll be happy to come back and play here again and again in the future because of its nice layout and generally very reasonable rates.
Some pictures from Woods Valley Golf Club (8/11/13):