More than a name change: St. Mark Golf Club has new ownership and a better San Diego golf experience

By Kevin Dunleavy, Contributor

Formerly Lake San Marcos Golf Club, St. Mark Golf Club has new ownership, a revitalized layout and facilities that makes it a San Diego favorite once again.

St. Mark Golf Club
St. Mark Golf Club is situated in the coastal foothills north of San Diego.
St. Mark Golf ClubSt. Mark golf course
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St. Mark Golf Course

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St. Mark Golf Course is tucked away in the coastal foothills of north San Diego County less than 10 miles from the ocean, boasting a landscape of mature trees and idyllic backdrops. Its proximity to the ocean also provides refreshing coastal breezes.

18 Holes | Semi-Private golf course | Par: 71 | 6398 yards | Book online | ... details »
 

A change in ownership has revitalized St. Mark Golf Club, bringing back players who had seen an old favorite decline. San Diego-based Eat.Drink.Sleep. primarily runs hotels, restaurants and night spots. But since it took over in July 2012, the quality of the golf course has improved dramatically.

"What a difference a year makes," wrote almathias of Vista on GolfNow.com. "Played this course a little over a year ago. I said I'd never play it again. A friend played it just after Christmas (2012) and encouraged me to give it another shot. I'm glad I listened -- 180-degree turnaround."

Players are finding their way back to the 6,515-yard, par-72 St. Mark, which is part of a resort that includes an executive course, pools, tennis courts and a hotel with more than 400 units. Situated in the coastal foothills north of San Diego, St. Mark opened in 1963 as a traditional, walkable layout that traverses gently rolling land. The player-friendly course, designed by Harry and David Rainville, has a 125 slope and 73.6 rating, with several holes that play right to left, and to elevated greens.

In addition to changing the name from Lake San Marcos, new ownership has replaced its fleet of golf carts, improved drainage and cart paths, pruned trees, repaired and replaced sprinkler heads and markers, and filled bunkers with new sand.

"Love all the work that the new owners have accomplished," wrote edandloretta01787693 of San Marcos, who rates the course five stars on GolfNow.com. "New carts, new pavement, new sand traps, watering, etc. Great job."

It was a course in need of a makeover after membership declined from more than 400 to 100. Less than a year after the ownership change, St. Mark is approaching 200 members and has a long-range plan to go private, said head pro Bob Strowman. He added that a $2 million renovation of the clubhouse is in the works, along with an $8 million upgrade of the hotel.

Make no mistake, St. Mark is still a work in progress. But as it makes its way back to prominence, players are encouraged by what they see and enthusiastic about playing a course that offers attractive deals as it now strives for excellence instead of resting on its laurels. Weekend rates to walk peak at $44.

"Great value for the money. Some of the holes could use a bit of work, but the price is a good balance," wrote an anonymous reviewer on GolfNow.com. "Great staff, always professional and caring, interesting and challenging layout as well. If you're looking for the perfect combination of a fair price with decent greens and a good design, this is the place."

SoCalBob of San Diego summed up the feelings of many who are rediscovering the course.

"I thought. OK, I'll give it one more try. Boy, what a difference," he wrote. "Everything that was wrong before has been fixed. We played a thoroughly enjoyable 3.5-hour round, enjoyed a very affordable craft beer at the 19th hole, and we will not hesitate in coming back. I'd recommend to anyone to give this course a try."

Kevin DunleavyKevin Dunleavy, Contributor

Kevin Dunleavy is a longtime resident of northern Virginia, a graduate of George Mason University, an award-winning reporter covering golf, colleges, and other sports for the Washington Examiner, and a single-digit handicap still seeking his elusive first hole-in-one. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KDunleavy.


Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • New Ownership

    Ray Bedikian wrote on: Jul 19, 2014

    who are the new owners of St. Mark Golf Club, San Marcos, CA? Is it a publically traded corp., sole ownership?
    Thanks in advance.
    Ray Bedikian
    westlakeray@gmail.com

    Reply