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Visitors can find courses with traditional, time-honored layouts, as well as many offering more modern architectural elements.
San Diego’s diverse terrain allows golfers the chance to play well-designed links in every conceivable setting. Fairways are designed along rolling hillsides and canyons, among scenic wetlands and wildlife preserves, on the cactus-studded desert floor, and atop majestic cliffs towering above the Pacific Ocean - all offering spectacular views not to be missed. As a plus, numerous San Diego courses have been designed by golf luminaries.
The following is a list of world-renowned golf course architects who left their personal mark on some of San Diego’s links.
Skilled at, and recognized for, his ability to create distinctive types of golf courses, Tom Fazio is considered one of America’s most sought-after golf course architects. For Fazio, his course designs have been primarily focused in the United States. Fazio’s trademark design elements, including generous fairways, undulating greens and unique bunkering, can be seen in The Grand Golf Club at Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
The Grand Golf Club, a par-72 course with over 7,000 yards of greens playable from a variety of tee locations, is strategically placed around Del Mar’s low and high meadows, hillsides and valleys. The course showcases Fazio’s unique style of bunker use with many deceptive bunkers hiding in the rolling hills.
Having won nine Major Championships and nine Senior Major Championships throughout his 50-year career, Gary Player is known as the most successful international golfer of all time. In the early 1980s, Player translated his golfing experience into Gary Player Design, a company specializing in the provision stage of golf course design. Since then, the design firm has developed over 200 golf courses worldwide, combining modern technology and traditional design principles to offer flexible courses catering to all levels of golfers.
Steele Canyon Golf Club, located 30 minutes from downtown San Diego in Jamul, provides breathtaking views and extreme course elevation changes. The 27-hole course, personally designed by Player, complements the natural beauty of the valley terrain. Visitors can play the Ranch Course, which winds through the fields of a working ranch, or the Meadow Course, stretching along the valley floor’s woodlands and streams.
One of golf's "Big Three," along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who helped popularize the sport of golf around the world, Arnold Palmer won seven Major Championships and five Senior Major Championships in his 53-year career. In 1972, he founded the Arnold Palmer Design Company, which has since designed more than 300 courses around the world. Palmer’s philosophy is to create traditional, straight forward designs that produce courses with lasting quality.
The Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad is the only Arnold Palmer signature golf course in San Diego. Winding through rolling valleys with ocean views, the 7,007 yard, par-72 golf course is sculpted around the resort’s natural topography with water hazards positioned as visual extensions of the nearby Batiquitos Lagoon.
Ted Robinson’s design philosophy focuses on flexibility, memorability and natural beauty elements that are showcased in his 170 golf courses worldwide. Robinson and his son, Ted Robinson Jr., operated Robinson Golf, Inc., which is behind the design of ten golf courses in the San Diego area; all designs, or redesigns, of this unique father-son team.
Ted Robinson Jr. joined the company in 1991 and was principally involved with the design and construction of Riverwalk Golf Course in Mission Valley and Arrowood Golf Club in Oceanside.
Robinson Golf, Inc. is well known for pioneering the integration of waterscapes into golf course design, and Riverwalk Golf Course is a prime example. A must-play urban golf course, located centrally in San Diego’s Mission Valley, Robinson Jr. transformed the former flat course into a challenging experience with undulating fairways highlighting the neighboring San Diego River as its prominent feature. Water comes into play on 13 of the 27 holes, with a spectacular waterfall surrounding the green of the signature hole.
Gary Roger Baird’s firm, Global Golf Design, has designed golf courses in the United States, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, with layouts that convey a strong partnership with the environment. Native American projects around the country have recently become a new focus for the firm, such as the Barona Creek Golf Club.
Baird considers the Barona Creek Golf Club, located on the Barona Indian Reservation in Lakeside 30 minutes east of downtown San Diego, his benchmark project. Having received numerous awards and rankings since opening in 2000, the project has created a new philosophy for Global Golf Design called “stewards of the land.” Barona Creek, with its natural elegance, gently flowing creeks, hardy California oaks, and native sods and grasses, is an 18-hole championship course designed to keep the rustic beauty of the Barona valley true to its natural form.
Weiskopf was the latest PGA Tour legend to re-shape San Diego golf when he put his hands on the North Course at Torrey Pines to give it a renovation that was unveiled in 2016. The major changes to the sister course of the notoriously tough South Course included a reduction in bunkers, an expansion in green size and added contouring and a reversing of the two nines. The course’s signature holes are now the downhill par-3 15th and uphill par-4 16th, both played along the Pacific Ocean. The renovations boosted interest in public play for a course that is also used for the opening two days of the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open.
With over 90 courses in San Diego County, there are plenty of greens to challenge players of all skill levels. Plan your next golf game today!
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