Carlton Oaks Golf Course in San Diego has a long history of hosting major events.
San Diegans still talk about the 1974 NCAA national championship played at Carlton Oaks. Perhaps because of its fantastic finish. A Wake Forest golfer by the name of Curtis Strange capped his victory on the 72nd hole when he holed out for eagle.
Carlton Oaks has been the site for U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur qualifiers. The past four years it has been the venue for a PGA first stage qualifier as well as a Canadian Tour qualifier.
“It is a very well known tournament golf course,” said Carlton Oaks director of golf Jerry Dremel.
Carlton Oaks has hosted the San Diego Junior Masters, bringing 400 players ages 8-18 from all over the world in a tuneup for the Callaway Junior World Championships in San Diego the following week.
“We love having all the kids out here,” said Dremel, who has temporary tees set up to make the distances more accommodating to the youngest golfers.
While the championship-caliber layout attracts big events, it also makes the course appealing to locals and tourists. Part of the appeal of Carlton Oaks is its proximity to San Diego proper.
“It’s almost like a day trip away from San Diego, but it’s only a 20-minute drive,” said Dremel. “Over the hill and into the valley. You’re basically out of the city into a nice suburban area.” A suburban area which happens to feature one of the nicest courses in the county.
The par-72 Perry Dye-designed course stretches to 7,410 yards from the tips. Creeks and lakes, bunkering and undulating greens provide plenty of varied challenges within the round.
“The two nines are very, very different,” said Dremel. “The front nine is a little tighter, a little more demanding shots. They’re both equally long with distance.
“The front nine you do have some trees, creeks that run through the entire nine, one lake on one hole on the front nine. You have to be able to play every shot. You have to be able to draw the ball and fade the ball. That’s for good players playing from the back tees. If you’re a higher handicap or leisure golfer, you just move up to the appropriate tee and you’re still going to have as much fun.”
Two of the more memorable holes on the front are the par-4 sixth hole, which features a lake down the entire left side, and the par-5 ninth, which requires carrying a creek off the tee and then on the approach to the green.
Golfers should take a breath after navigating the ninth because when they make the turn the back nine requires their immediate attention.
“Holes 10, 11 and 12, that’s what the members have coined around here as “The Oak Trap,” said Dremel. Water greets golfers off the 10th tee, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what awaits at the par-4 11th and par-3 12th holes.
“You play 11 and there’s water all down your right side and hole 12 from the tips it’s a 200-yard shot over water to a peninsula green,” said Dremel.
Golfers get a break from the water over the five holes that follow, but they’re not going to get away without one last reminder.
“The 18th hole is probably one of the best finishing holes in San Diego County,” said Dremel. “From the back tees it plays 474 yards with your second shot entirely over water to the green.”
“We do have five sets of tees so you’re able to play the appropriate set of tees for your skill level to have fun.”
With a standard rate of $65 weekdays/$85 weekends, Carlton Oaks is regarded as a tremendous value for the price. In fact, two years ago Golf Digest rated it the most affordable course in San Diego relative to the quality of the course.
The property includes a 60-room lodge, restaurant and bar and other amenities. With its proximity to downtown San Diego, Carlton Oaks can be the base of operations for visitors if they so choose.