As I continue my quest to everything I can, I look for any opportunity to play private clubs. Yesterday, I was able to sign up for a “member for a day” outing at Lomas Santa Fe Country Club in Solana Beach. The name may sound familiar because there is another course there, Lomas Santa Fe Executive Golf Course.
I don’t know the relation between the two. The executive course is open to the public, but the private one is not. They have separate clubhouses, but the same basic logo, so there is some connection I suppose.
Lomas Santa Fe is managed by American Golf, which offers member for a day deals on their various SoCal private clubs from time to time. However, it has been awhile since I’ve seen one available at Lomas Santa Fe, so it was a good time to jump on the opportunity. The price was $65 and it was a shotgun start. A friend and I signed up and were scheduled in the middle of the group as a twosome, but we were able to negotiate our way to be in the lead group. It made a huge difference as we had plenty of open holes in front of us and never really had to wait all morning.
The course is a fun one. It’s a Billy Bell, Jr. design, so it has a pretty old school vibe that’s reminiscent of plenty of courses throughout Southern California. The terrain here is fairly hilly and there are plenty of houses that have been developed around the course, so at times it feels somewhat tight throughout the property. And, as with a lot of these older courses, it has some quirks that you’ll probably either love or hate (usually depending on how you play). It’s definitely more of a target/strategy kind of course than “grip it and rip it.”
There are some narrow sections and some really severe, tricky doglegs with cross-canted fairways sloping away from the corners. The first hole, a very doglegged par-5 is maybe the most extreme of them all. It’s definitely one of those courses that suits a membership crowd because you probably have to play it a lot to really figure out how to play certain holes strategically.
The hills get steeper on the back nine, but that side is a few hundred yards shorter than the front. A few holes play straight uphill like the back-to-back par-4s, 12 and 13. Then others play significantly downhill. The par-4 11th is a really fun one that is drivable for some. You just don’t have a ton of room for error. The par-3 14th is also a good hole with a pretty big drop-off from tee to green.
The course was in good condition overall. Apparently, they use reclaimed water here, so they aren’t under as many water restrictions as a lot of courses in the area. Things were pretty lush and green throughout. It was rather soggy throughout the course in a lot of places in the morning, but there was good playability overall. The white tee boxes were okay. The fairways were nice and generally good to hit from unless you found one of those extra soggy spots early on.
The rough was maybe a bit inconsistent in terms of length. It was pretty lush kikuyu that had good coverage throughout. When it’s cut down some and the ball sits up, it’s easy to hit from, but when it settles in you really have to hack it out. I was in one bunker and, though damp, it had nice sand. The greens were very well kept. They were quite soft and rolling smooth at medium/quick speeds. My only complaint was they had the fertilizer/dye applied to give a little extra green coloration, but also gets the ball all gross (and shoes, too). Also, it had a really strong smell, kind of like house paint.
Lomas Santa Fe isn’t one of those private courses you need to drop everything and play if you get invited. Still, it’s well worth a visit, especially at a reasonable price. The conditions are good and the layout is definitely fun. Some may not appreciate the old quirks and a number of blind shots, but if you keep the ball in play, you can really post a good score here.
Some pictures from Lomas Santa Fe Country Club (10/19/15):
(Unfortunately, the sky was rather gloomy. I wish the pictures were better to do the course more justice.)