As one of the premier golf destinations, there’s no shortage of world-class golf courses in Southern California that can make for truly memorable experiences. But as any experienced golfer can tell you, no matter the quality of the course, the people you play with can completely make or break your impression of the round. I’ve had outings on gorgeous grounds ruined by partners dead-set on sucking the joy out of golf, and unforgettable moments with great friends on dog tracks. You can’t always pick who you play with, but when you know who’s in your group, picking the right course for the circumstances can help make the most of the experience. There’s a wide variety of groups you may play with, so with that in mind, we put together some suggestions of where to book your next round in San Diego:
Best place to play with your usual weekend foursome
Maderas Golf Club (Poway)
With so many fantastic courses lining the coast in the San Diego, this inland course could be considered a hidden gem. Consistently ranked among the top facilities in SoCal, the course presents unique challenges with 3 lakes, elevation changes, and rolling hills making you put some thought into every shot. Maderas will provide an upscale experience from the moment you pull up to the course that’s sure to impress your group of golf junkies.
Best place to play with your significant other
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa (Carlsbad)
If your idea of a romantic getaway involves a round or two of golf, this is the spot for an all-inclusive vacation. On top of the two championship courses (which you can play for a very reasonable rate as a resort guest), the dining and spa options will make for an incredible time.
Best place to play with your parents
Coronado Golf Course (Coronado Island)
Coronado Island can be a great spot to escape the city for a laid back outing, and that includes the Coronado Golf Course. It’s not an overly long course and easy to walk, great for parents who may not get around as well or hit the ball as long as they once did. Weekend tee times can be hard to come by, so you should consider sneaking in a midweek round here.
Best place to play with your kids
Oaks North Golf Course (Rancho Bernardo)
Oaks North is perfectly catered to introducing your young ones to the game. It’s an executive course with 27 holes and excellent practice facilities great for working through the first steps of learning golf. Once your kids fall in love with the game, you’ll also find year-round junior clinics, a summer camp, and spring and fall Parent-Junior Leagues.
Best place for a business meeting
The Crossings at Carlsbad
From the gorgeous clubhouse, to the top-notch driving range, to views of the Pacific on the course, The Crossings at Carlsbad is dripping with class. Once you’re off the course, you can enjoy a great selection at the Canyons Restaurant or grab a drink on the patio overlooking the course to network and close deals.
Best place to play with your broke buddy
Balboa Park Golf Course (Downtown San Diego)
Set in the heart of downtown San Diego, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better value ($20 twilight rate for San Diego residents) than Balboa Park. But don’t let the price fool you: it’s a great track with fun challenges and ocean views on the back 9. They also have a 9-hole executive course if you want to squeeze in a round after work to wait out traffic.
Best place to show off to your super wealthy friend
Aviara Golf Club (Carlsbad)
No list of high-end resort courses is complete without including Aviara. If you haven’t already, add this to your bucket list and find a time to treat yourself to a round here. If the price point gives you more pause than your loaded friends, consider joining the yearly SCGA Member Outing to Aviara.
Best place to teach a beginner
The Loma Club (Mission Bay)
The first time out on the course can be an intimidating experience, but starting at The Loma Club can help take the edge off. The course is a 9-hole par 3 layout that’s very forgiving to newbies. They also feature a full bar and grill and outdoor area complete with cornhole boards that can make for a great outing regardless of how the golf goes.
Best place to challenge your scratch golfer friend
Torrey Pines Golf Course (La Jolla)
Torrey Pines is one of the best munis in the country and could easily fit into most of the categories above, but I decided to save it for the spot that represents what it does best: challenge the best of the best. Both courses play well over 7,000 yards from the black tees and provide a big-league test for any golfer, especially if you’re playing around the Farmers Open when the rough is extremely thick. No matter what you shoot, though, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
Recommended Groups in San Diego
Great golf experiences are all about great company, but sometimes that isn’t so easy to find. Whether you’re new to golf, new to the area, or looking to expand your network of golf partners, we’re here to make it easier:
Kevin is a born and raised Southern California golfer. His golf highlights include occasionally breaking 90, losing an entire dozen balls in one round, and sinking a 20 foot putt on camera on the first take. Kevin is a member of Tiny Putters Golf and his current Handicap Index is none of your business.