Golf at Encinitas Ranch north of San Diego: Great location, dynamite layout
ENCINITAS, Calif. -- Encinitas Ranch Golf Course is a great value, even if it didn't come with ocean views. For far less than you'll pay at some other quality inland, daily-fee courses, you not only get great conditioning, good service and an interesting layout, but you also get views of the Pacific Ocean.
Now it's not like Encinitas Ranch is right on the ocean, not like its neighbor to the south, Torrey Pines. But sure enough, from a few of the holes, you can see the Pacific blue and you can certainly feel the sea breeze when you're playing this course high upon the bluffs just a few hundred yards from the surf.
The most important part of this golf experience, however, is that this Cary Bickler design is well conditioned and fun. It measures just under 6,600 yards from the tips. There are elevation changes, a few dramatic holes and wide fairways for the most part so everyone can play it. There are also five sets of tees. And the greens, for the most part, are fairly large and not overly difficult.
It's the kind of golf course where the skilled players can go low, especially if they take a few chances that pay off on some of the shorter holes. And it's also a course where the less skilled player is sure to have a good time, given the generous nature of the design.
There are some holes, though, that will definitely get your attention. The seventh may be the most interesting hole on the golf course. The tee shot is blind, so club selection is critical. It's a short hole that narrows as you cross the horizon, so most players just try to hit something just beyond the ridge. From there, it's an approach to a green that's surrounded by three sides of a drop-off and views as far as the eye can see. Then, if you're playing the back tees, you have to carry another canyon to the eighth fairway on a dogleg left par 4 that plays just over 400 yards. (It's all in the tee shot.)
On Encinitas Ranch Golf Course's back nine, you'll find the 13th, a difficult dogleg right par 4 that wraps around a drop-off of trees and is well protected by a pair of fairway bunkers on either side.
The next hole, with water off the tee (that shouldn't come into play), plays 433 yards from the tips. And the 17th, at 185 yards from the back, has a large pond and wetlands area in front of and to the right of an elongated green.
Encinitas Ranch's practice facilities include a grass driving range, short-game area, putting green and even an indoor practice area. Pull carts and rental clubs are also available. Golf instruction and clinics are also available from the facility's PGA teaching staff.
Managed by JC Golf Resorts, customers are greeted by a friendly staff. There's also a magnificent new 6,000-square foot club house that has a full-service grill, golf shop and fireplace patio, where you can enjoy those ocean views with a bit to eat and a beverage or two.
October 12, 2011