Short Course Blitz #4: Escondido & The Cruiser

Yes, that’s a rare “Eddie & The Cruisers” pun. I got a million of them!

Sunday found me down in the Escondido area of San Diego County for another Short Course Blitz. I ended up playing three of the better-regarded short courses in the region that day.

On Monday afternoon, I ended up at the Navy Golf Course in Cypress, where I played the executive 9-hole “Cruiser” course. I decided to lump that in with this bunch and then post my review of Dove Canyon in its own article (that story will go up this weekend).

Anyway, back to Sunday…

Oaks North Golf Course • San Diego, CA • 11/2/14

I booked a 7:30 tee time through Golf Now at a “hot deal” rate of $27, but got there a little earlier and was able to tee it up closer to 7:00. The staff here is very nice and it wasn’t too busy out that early in the morning, so it worked out well. I played as a single (walking) and ultimately played through a couple of groups before having the course to myself.

Oaks North features three executive-length nines (North, East and South). I played the North and East first, and then went back and paid $17 extra to “replay” the South nine and complete the trilogy.

All three nines are similar in style and length (South is the longest of the three, but not significantly) and each includes three short par-4 holes mixed with a decent variety of par-3s.

The terrain is a little hilly and it was a pretty good workout walking all three nines, but it’s still a walker-friendly layout without any major changes in elevation and holes that are routed well together. Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard design. There aren’t any super dramatic holes, but also not many that I would consider “boring” either. It’s a solid executive layout all around.

Oaks North is a 55+ community, so the course fits that profile. It’s a forgiving and fun design that’s just interesting enough to provide some variety and challenge whatever combination of nines you play.

The course was in very good shape all around. It was mostly quite lush and green everywhere with just a few scattered thin spots here and there. The tee boxes were not too chewed up yet in the early morning. The greens very nice, true and quite smooth rolling at medium speeds. I was in one bunker and it wasn’t too great, but it was hard to tell the sand quality because it was so wet and compacted.

Overall, Oaks North is definitely one of the better executive tracks around and a good middle ground between a beginner pitch and putt level course and a more daunting regulation-length course. It does seem a tad overpriced for what you get (as a JC Golf managed property, that is no surprise), but the conditions were good enough to justify a slightly higher price than what you pay at a lot of other less-interesting executive layouts.

Some pictures from Oaks North Golf Course (11/2/14):

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My new crawdaddy friend…

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After Oaks North, I drove just a little bit north for my next short course visit…

Reidy Creek Golf Course • Escondido, CA • 11/2/14

Like Oaks North, Reidy Creek is one of the short courses I’ve generally heard positive things about. This is not an executive layout, though. It’s an 18-hole par-3 course, and yes, it’s a pretty good one.

I also booked this round as a GolfNow “hot deal” for $18, but I chose to pay $10 extra for a cart because I was already a little worn out after the first round! There were some folks out here, so I had to wait at times, but still finished in about 1 hour, 45 minutes for all 18 holes.

Reidy Creek is far from your basic “pitch and putt” par-3 course. It features a nice mix of holes and lengths. There are water hazards and environmental areas to provide a little trouble. There are tricky greens with some significant slopes and undulations to contend with.

The course was designed by Cal Olsen, so it does carry some weight as a more legitimate short course. It offers some challenge, but at the same time is not so difficult to scare away beginners.

It seems they are trying to attract beginners even more with the use of 15-inch holes on all the greens. They have the normal holes for us “serious” golfers, but have an alternate 15-incher on each green. This is a trend a lot of courses are trying, but most just do it for a day or a short time to bring out some new players. They also had these on the East course at Oaks North, as you may have noticed in a few pictures above.

Personally, I don’t see much appeal in this idea. In my opinion, putting is the one thing that people can figure out the basics of pretty quickly (hence miniature golf). It’s generally not the part of the game that is frustrating for most beginners. I didn’t see anyone at Reidy Creek using them and I’m not sure how much play they ever get. I’d be curious to find out. What I did experience myself was a number of times when the big hole was directly in my way on a putt or a chip to the regular hole. That was rather annoying.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player, you should have fun at Reidy Creek. It’s definitely one of the better short courses around and it was in good overall condition. It is a bermuda-based course, so the grass isn’t really lush or pretty this time of year, but everything was pretty consistent and playable. The tees were a bit chewed up at times. The bunkers looked terrible (hardpan) and luckily I never found myself in one. The greens, however, were excellent with really nice surfaces and very few unrepaired marks, which is surprising for a course like this.

Some pictures from Reidy Creek Golf Course (11/2/14):

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I had one more round in me on Sunday, so I went just a little further north on the I-15 for another one of the area’s really good short courses…

Welk Resort San Diego (Fountains Course) • Escondido, CA • 11/2/14

The Welk Resort was a good way to round out the day of enjoyable short courses. I was able to book another GolfNow “hot deal” for $19, which thankfully included a cart. It was quite busy out here, so the round was a little slower than I hoped. I joined up with another single and it took about 3.5 hours to play all 18 holes.

I played the pretty basic par-3 Oaks course here last year, but I was looking forward to playing the much better Fountains executive course on this visit. It turned out to be a very fun round on an enjoyable little course.

The Fountains course winds through the Welk Resort buildings and along the rugged rocky hillside. It has some good changes in elevation and some very nice scenery to enjoy throughout your round. This is a course that is there as a casual, fun activity for resort guests and it serves that purpose well. Beginners won’t be overly challenged. Experienced players won’t be left too bored.

The course is a par-62 with eight short par-4s and a good mix of par-3s. The greens here are tiny and offer probably the biggest element of defense because you do have to be quite accurate to hit and hold them on approaches. Otherwise, the design is pretty forgiving and, most importantly, fun. I know I keep saying “fun,” but that’s probably the best word to describe this course.

The course was in very good overall shape. It was very green and pretty looking. Some fairway spots and the collars were a bit too shaggy, but mostly it played as well as it looked. The tee boxes were in good shape. I was in a couple bunkers and they were pretty good. The greens were solid, as well. A couple seemed a little rough and all were somewhat bumpy late in the day, but it was more good than bad.

Would I recommend going way out of your way for a round at the Welk Resort? No. But if you are in the area and looking for a fun little departure from the norm, it’s a pretty good option. Still, there are so many great regulation courses around Escondido, Fallbrook and Temecula, it’s easy to pass this one over.

Some pictures from Welk Resort San Diego (Fountains Course) (11/2/14):

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Sunday was a productive day, and I was right back at it on Monday with a day off from work. I played Dove Canyon Golf Club in South OC in the morning with an SCGA outing, but ended up playing one short local course in the afternoon and I decided to include it here with this Short Course Blitz review…

Navy Golf Course (Cruiser) • Cypress, CA • 11/3/14

This turned out to be a great way to enjoy my free afternoon without having to drive to far and still get home in time to enjoy a little relaxation after such a busy golf weekend.

I booked a 1:30 GolfNow “hot deal” for $13, which included a cart. That was a pretty nice deal for nine holes here. I was able to tee it up a little earlier. It wasn’t super busy, but there were more people out there than I expected so it was slow going at times. Still, it only took about an hour and 15 minutes to play all nine holes on this short and pretty basic course.

I have played the full-length Destroyer course in the past, so this was finally my chance to check Cruiser off the list. I was hoping it might be a smaller version of its big brother, a course I enjoyed, but it really isn’t. Cruiser is pretty flat and not terribly interesting or challenging. Speaking of military courses, it reminded me more of a junior version of the Miramar course down in San Diego.

Cruiser is a par-31 layout with four par-4s. One is a pretty “average” length of around 350 yards, but the others are very short. That is balanced out by two of the par-3s (numbers 3 and 4), which are unusually long for a short course like this. The 3rd is 207 yards. It is one of the most basic holes you’ll ever see, but it was playing straight into the wind. The 4th is 213 yards and the green is guarded by a big bunker in front that makes it a pretty tough one to get at.

Naturally, those two holes are followed by the extremely wide open 232-yard par-4 5th hole. Go figure!

The course was in OK shape—decent enough for a little executive. The tee boxes were a little beat up. The fairways were pretty good and the rough was a little spotty. The greens were pretty nice, though, and the bunkers good, as well. For $13 with a cart, I won’t complain too much.

Cruiser serves its purpose as a beginner-level or warm-up course, but Destroyer is rightfully the main event at the Navy Golf Course complex. After playing some really good short courses the day before, Cruiser just doesn’t quite measure up to those.

Some pictures from Navy Golf Course (Cruiser) (11/3/14):

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