From Soggy Fairways to Sunny Slopes

I recently had the opportunity to play in a charity tournament at Shadowridge Country Club in Vista, which was a good time at a fun event. Naturally, I made the most of the day, heading down to San Diego County early for a warm-up round…

The Vineyard at Escondido • Escondido, CA

I teed it up super early so I could have some time to relax and watch The Open Championship coverage in between rounds. I had a 5:52 tee time through GolfNow for just $22.49, which is hard to beat here. Usually, this course always seems somewhat overpriced to me, so it was nice to get it at a great rate.

I played with another twosome and we enjoyed a nice quick pace of around three hours. The only nuisance was the foursome of older gentleman who started on the back nine just before we made our turn. After a couple holes, though, they let us play through and it was smooth sailing from there.

I had only played this course once several years ago and had vague recollections. I remember liking some aspects of it and not liking others, so I was excited to give it another shot. As it turns out, those mixed memories were accurate. Indeed, there is a lot to like and a few things I’m not too fond of about the course.

The Vineyard is a par-70 course that plays in a nice setting. The front side plays into a more wooded setting without any major changes in elevation. The back nine opens up more, but is hillier running alongside an actual vineyard as the name would suggest. Both sides present ample challenge and enjoyable scenery.

On a positive note, I do enjoy the collection of par-3s here. Three of them are relatively short and play directly over hazards to force an accurate shot. The last one (#17) is a medium-range shot, but doesn’t have much trouble in play. They are all holes you can be aggressive on, so that’s fun.

As a par-70, there are only two par-5s in the layout and that’s one of the things I don’t like as much, especially considering there are a few really long par-4s that might make more sense as par-5s if lengthened just a bit. Overall, the par-4s here do not suit my game because they are lengthy. There is one short risk/reward par-4 (the 7th), but otherwise they are pretty long. Of the 12 par-4 holes here, nine of them play over 400 yards from the blue tees and three of those are over 450.

With the wet weather we’ve had, I was smart enough to play the white tees. Still, with no roll-out on drives because of extra soggy conditions, it played quite long for me. Also adding challenge for anyone is how narrow many of the fairways are. There’s a lot of contour and the landing areas can get pretty tight.

Where the wet conditions helped was on the greens, which were really receptive on approaches. Putts rolled slower than they normally do here, but it allowed for aggressive shots you might usually not have the opportunity to take on this course. Typically, things are kept firmer and faster, which helps balance out the length of the course, but can be an added level of challenge depending on your game.

As I mentioned, things were very soggy here after the rains, so everything was pretty mushy. Otherwise, the course was looking very nice and green with relatively lush coverage throughout. As the course dries out this week, it should be an ideal time to play it.

I’m sure I’ll make my way out to The Vineyard at Escondido again. It’s a solid overall course with some nice features. It’s not a place I will opt to play often because it really doesn’t suit my game. I get tired of hitting woods and hybrids into every par-4, and even having to lay-up on a few. I want to use more clubs in my bag. Longer hitters won’t have this problem and may find the course more enjoyable. They might complain all the par-3s are too short, though!
You can’t please everyone.

Some pictures from The Vineyard at Escondido:

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The timing worked out nicely as I was able to relax and enjoy some Open coverage in between rounds, but it wasn’t too long before I was headed up toward Vista and ready to tee it up again…

Shadowridge Country Club • Vista, CA

The tournament here was for the Buena Vista Little League, which I have no connection to. A friend invited me out because they wanted more players, so I signed up as an excuse to check out a private club I hadn’t been to before.

It was a noon shotgun in a scramble format. Our team was certainly not the most talented in the group, but we had fun starting on hole 5 and finishing on the par-3 4th. There was plenty of food and drinks to enjoy, and then a ton a cool raffle prizes and silent auction items up for grabs.

The course at Shadowridge has a very familiar feel. Though solid on all levels, it kind of blends in with a number of other San Diego area courses with similar designs, terrain and residences in play. I basically said the same thing when I played Bernardo Heights not too long ago, so this was along the same lines. It’s not a bad course by any stretch. In fact, it’s quite nice, but it’s just not anything overly distinctive.

Playing in a shotgun start always kind of throws me off because you don’t really get to experience the natural flow of a course. The finishing holes and signature holes don’t come as intended. As I mentioned, we finished on a par-3, which was a bit odd.

Shadowridge is fairly hilly and features plenty of doglegs along with a variety of uphill and downhill shots. The fairways are lined with a pretty traditional smattering of trees. There are a few times when the homes around the course are definitely in play with a bad shot, but most of the time they don’t feel too close.

I wish I had more to say and a bunch of holes to highlight, but there isn’t too much about the course that will stick with me. That’s partly a result of having played too many courses. Otherwise, like I said, it’s a very good course with no real weaknesses to speak of. You’ll enjoy yourself a lot if you get to play there. Just don’t expect it to blow you away.

I will say the conditions were very nice and it was a stark contrast to my morning
round. Shadowridge is set up to drain really well. There were some mushy
low spots here and there, but mostly it played great from tee to green.
The tee boxes were excellent. The fairways were cut tight and very well-kept. The rough was cut down
and not much of a factor. With the scramble format, it was great to be
able to perch the ball up right on top for a perfect lie in the rough and I ended up preferring that over the fairway at times (primarily when hitting fairway woods/hybrids). We didn’t play
from any bunkers. They looked pretty compacted, but I’m sure will be
back to normal shortly. The greens were very soft and a bit slow (I’m
certain they are usually much faster), but smooth and nice on putts.

I was glad to get the chance to play Shadowridge and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Like a lot of the mid-level private clubs, the biggest appeal may be its exclusivity rather than the course itself. It’s a solid layout with nice conditioning, so I know many golfers who would love it here. It’s probably a one and done for me, unless I decide to sign up for next year’s tournament.

Some pictures from Shadowridge Country Club:

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