Lake San Marcos Country Club: Perfect for a Spare Afternoon
Open to the public for a reasonable forty dollars, Lake San Marcos Country Club offers an opportunity to play a well maintained course with reasonable difficulty at a leisurely pace.
With dormant rye grass fairways and kikiyu greens, any golfer will get a good roll off their drives, but on the flip side, must hit a high arching shot to place the ball on the greens or hit a three bouncer onto the green and hope it will stop near the hole. The low handicapper could probably pull off the former, the rest of us should stick with the latter method.
The long hitter can have a field day with the par-5's, as four of the five par-5's are under 500 yards and easily reachable with the amount of roll garnered off of the fairways. For those who don't have long distance off of the tee, the par fives should play as easy pars, with wide fairways, and little rough to slow you down.
The first par-5 is a mere 606 yards from the tips, those who use the whites only have 597 yards. Number 3 is the only par 5 with a challenge, as it dogleg's left with a blind second shot that is crucial to place the third shot onto the highly elevated and large green. One of the drawbacks with this hole are the golfers themselves.
The hole usually backs up at the second shot point as there is inevitably one golfer (like me) who believes they are able to reach the green or place a fairway wood to about 130 from the hole for an easy third shot. Though this is possible, be forewarned that play may slow down on this hole.
On the whole, a round of golf here is a pleasurable experience.
The next "par 5" is a mere 466 yards, a tempting target for us long hitters, and an easy hole for the regular length golfers. It poses little challenge and can be easily parred or birdied with a bit of skill. The same is true for the other four par 5's on the course. They are all under 500 yards and can be hit on in two. The majority of golfers should find them to be easy pars with an occasional birdie.
To compensate for the short par fives, the par threes make up in their distance. There are two par threes over 200 yards, necessitating a long iron or a short wood off of the tee.
Number 8 is a 210 yard challenge that can seem foreboding on a dark, damp night. Though straightforward, it only allows for a golfer to have a 15 yard margin of error, right or left, to make it stay on the green. This may be a challenge to golfers who have difficulty with their long irons or short woods. The other longer par 3 is number 12. It's carded at 208 yards, but has an elevated green that necessitates a longer shot off of the tee.
Again though, golfers should remember that a nice bounce and a good roll are the norm on this course, and may be used to their advantage. After all, why not hit a little less and let the course take some of the workload off of the golfer?
Though short, the par fours on the course are deceptively tricky. They come equipped with slopes, downhill, uphill, and side hill, leaving golfers with uneven lies and shifting distances to the greens. These slopes also cause the golfer to focus on hitting a good shot, rather than the shot that is necessary to get to and stay on the green.
Number 5 is one of the fun par fours. Listed as 369 on the card, its length is sufficiently shortened by the fact that the tee box is about 70 feet higher than the fairway. It allows the golfer to get a nice head start on the hole and one of the best sights a golfer can see; that of the ball just floating in air as the hangtime increases another two or three seconds.
Though there is a pond on the hole, either a 210 yard lay-up shot off the tee or a 250 normal drive can remove that threat. It is an easy hole, but very fun to drive.
Another interesting par 4 is number 7, which looks on the card as a menacing dogleg left with bunkers guarding the hole and a stream forcing the golfer to either lay up and take a fairway wood out or to drive it and have a mid iron into the green. Worry not though because of the generous roll and bounce, the hole plays less than the listed 412 yards and the stream slicing the fairway is one of the drainage ditches described below.
Additionally one of the interesting par 4's is number 13. Listed at 387 yards , it employs a number of hillocks, slopes, and tricks of the trade to distort the hole. Off the tee, the fairway slopes to diagonally to the right, giving the hole an illusion of being a dogleg. Also, the bowl shaped green is placed underneath the down slope of a hillock, thus reducing the distance to the hole and forcing the golfer to lay up to take advantage of the roll provided.
If the golfer decides to take a normal shot into the green, it would most likely roll off to the back of the green, giving the golfer a tough uphill putt on a two tiered green.
The last of the fun par 4's is the last hole on the course. Number 18 is a dogleg left with a large overhanging tree on the left side of the tee box. This discourages long drives off the tee to the left and easier side of the hole.
Golfers are forced to aim to the right of the tee box and attempt to draw it back, those that hit it far enough will find the rough, albeit at 130 yards or less. Another deterrent on this hole is a large bunker sitting at the 120 marker in the middle of the fairway that prevents shots getting too close to the green.
The hazards on the course are few and far between. Bunkers are placed more to stop a ball from rolling into someone's back yard than to punish the golfer for an errant shot.
In fact, there are only 41 bunkers on the whole course and almost never come into play. If they do, golfers should thank them, usually saving the ball and a two stroke OB penalty. What passes for a stream on the scorecard maps are actually drainage ditches with a free drop. The only "lakes" listed on the maps are nestled in areas that rarely, if ever, come into play.
Because of the houses ringing the course, there is a number of out of bounds golfers can get into. Also, though with generous fairways, most holes only have five to eight yards of rough before the boundary line comes into play. Not necessarily a tight course like Alta Sierra Country Club in the Sierra Nevada foothills, it does not give the errant golfer much of a margin of error.
On the whole, a round of golf here is a pleasurable experience. Guests must take a cart, which is included in the green fee and this allows for an acceptable pace of play.
Though the course may bottleneck in certain spots, the pace of play is well under four and a half hours. In the end, this reviewer would tell interested golfers to play Lake San Marcos Country Club whenever they have a spare afternoon.
Lake San Marcos Country Club
1750 San Pablo Dr.
Lake San Marcos, CA 92069
Head Pro: Randy Olson
Blues: 71.5/124 & 6,515 yards
Whites: 69.4/116 & 6,272 yards