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San Diego County

With so many great options available, the choices are endless

San Diego County

The 14th hole at Maderas in Poway ends with an uphill approach over a rustic ravine.
Courtesy Maderas

Selecting the top 18 holes in San Diego County should be a dream assignment, but when you’ve got a region full of great golf courses – nearly 90 in all – it can be tough. So even though I’ve got a few more local rounds under my belt since I did this task two years ago, my criterion is the same: holes that are scenic, memorable, fun to play and strategically challenging without being too difficult. If your favorite hole didn’t make the cut, let me know. I’d love to hear about a hole I might have overlooked.

No. 1, Petco Park, The Links At Petco

OK, we’re starting with a curveball, but the partnership between Callaway Golf and the San Diego Padres to turn Petco Park into a nine-hole, par-3 urban golf oasis is super cool. Fittingly, the round starts at home plate, and staring out toward center field with a golf club in hand is awesome. It’s surreal and real at the same time. I’m 0 for 2 on making a birdie at No. 1, but I do have a ground rule double. And, yes, I’ve heard the joke about warning track power.

No. 1, Barona Creek, 522 yards, par 5

Many courses in the county close with a par-5 but Barona Creek opens with one. The hole is straightaway off the tee before bending to the right where a giant oak tree and cluster of bunkers guard the green. If you can avoid the tree trouble, an opening birdie should be in play because you’ll be rolling your ball on some of the best greens in the region.

No. 2, Golf Club of California, 519 yards, par 5

This Fallbrook course has a great collection of par-5s, but the second hole is the best of the bunch. The fairway gradually turns to the right off the tee and comes to a beautiful conclusion with an approach to a green framed by trees after a carry over a ravine. Two solid strikes should have you poised to give your round some early scoring momentum.

No. 3, Torrey Pines South, 160 yards, par 3

This is the shot everyone thinks of when it comes to San Diego golf: a green below the tee box with an ocean backdrop and a view of La Jolla in the distance. Does it get any better than that? Its sister par-3 – No. 6 on the North – has a case, but it’s this hole that most people remember. It’s also a shorter hole, giving you a better chance of carding a birdie.

No. 3, Aviara, 149 yards, par 3

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