Category Archives: JC Golf


Southland: Woods Valley Joins JC Golf

Jan. Southland

Tucked away in Valley Center, in northern San Diego County, Woods Valley Golf Club has quietly remained a local favorite since opening in the early 2000s. JC Golf is looking to turn up the volume of players discovering, and talking about, the course.

JC Golf added Woods Valley to its popular JC Players Card in November and is hoping it entices more of its golfers to make the trek north.

JC Golf Director of Operations Erik Johnson said the initial response from players has been enthusiastic and positive.

“As soon as we announced it, it was really amazing to see how many new golfers showed up,” Johnson said. “It’s a great golf course that’s been around for over 10 years, and we are excited to use the JC brand to broad their exposure in the San Diego golf market.”

A boost in play would complete a year that has seen a remarkable improvement in the course conditions at Woods Valley, Johnson said, despite the drought. He credits superintendent John Martinez, who formerly oversaw Journey at Pechanga, for coaxing the course to its peak.

“It’s in great condition,” he said. “It’s up to the standard we expect for all of our courses.”

As the name suggests, the course is indeed tree-lined, but the layout alternates between being tight and open, somewhat akin to another JC course, Twin Oaks in San Marcos.

The front nine is more open and receptive to scoring. Then the course ups the ante on the challenge on the back with what many regard as one of the strongest back nines in in the region.

“It’s one of the best back-nine layouts in all of San Diego,” Johnson said. “It goes in and out of the woods so there’s a lot of visual effect.”

The stretch begins with one of the more daunting tee shots in San Diego. The par-4 10th has an elevated tee with water on the left and a wooded out of bounds right. There’s a narrowing landing area to hit to position yourself for an uphill approach. The wind often comes from your right, which makes the tee shot even more demanding.

Perhaps the most picturesque hole is the 15th, a strategic short par 4 with a sharp dog-leg right played from an elevated tee that offers a gorgeous overview of the valley and mountain surroundings. Carrying the dogleg with a driver brings the green into play, although the more sensible play is a hybrid or long iron aimed at the turn to set up a wedge approach.

The course has a few drivable par 4s and reachable par 5s that bring low numbers – and also usually risk – into play.
Johnson said the myriad shot options give the course a high degree of repeat playability.

“You could play this course several times a month and not get bored.”

Throw in some eye-pleasing and playable par 3s and you have a layout that offers something for everyone but has flown under the radar despite being 15 minutes from Escondido and the I-15.

JC Golf’s mission is to let the secret out and invite more golfers to the experience.

“Golf courses can be challenged in a lot of ways, but with Woods Valley it’s simply getting the word out, because it’s a great product,” Johnson said. “With our marketing and the JC brand, we’re expecting the course to see sizable growth in rounds (in 2016).”

Woods Valley is also unique, Johnson said, in that it’s a pure playing experience, meaning there’s no attached resort or additional amenities, making it a great place to escape to work on your game.

The course has an all-grass driving range – “They don’t even own mats” – and boasts the current Southern California PGA San Diego Chapter 2015 Player of the Year, Grant Strobel, as its head golf professional.

A personal word of advice for first-timers at Woods: You’ll look at the overall length (6,291 from the blues; 6,670 from the blacks) and want to step back. Play the course once before you do. That decision really hits home on the back, where you’ll want to see the holes once before you take on the extra distance.

“It’s a really unique place to play,” Johnson said, “If we get people here once, they’re definitely going to come back.”

By The Numbers

2003 – Year Woods Valley opened as a nine-hole course

2004 – Year it expanded to 18

2015 – Year it was added to the JC Golf Players Card

15 – Number of minutes it takes to reach the course from the I-15

6,670 – Number of yards from the back tees

0 – Number of practice mats the club owns; the range is all grass

$59/$79 – Public weekday/weekend rate

SD Tourism: Five Camera-Phone Worthy Golf Holes in San Diego


Editor’s note: This post is part of an occasional series for the San Diego Tourism Authority – – promoting golf in San Diego.

With nearly 90 courses to choose from, golf in San Diego is a veritable feast for your game – and your senses.

From jaw-dropping elevation changes and stunning sweeping vistas to breath-taking ocean views and brilliant botanical beauty, San Diego courses have all.

The following is all-too-brief list of some of the most camera-phone worthy holes in San Diego.


1. No. 3 (South Course) at Torrey Pines (La Jolla)

This iconic par 3 on the South Course, site of the 2008 and 2021 U.S. Opens, is San Diego’s most famous golf hole. Golfers worldwide make the pilgrimage just to hit this elevated tee shot and watch their ball soar into the blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean in the backdrop. There’s also the captivating view of La Jolla in the distance. Played mostly from 160 or 149 yards, this isn’t the toughest hole at Torrey by any stretch, but it’s certainly the most memorable – and photogenic. Its sister par 3 is No. 6 on the North, which features a nearly 200-foot drop to the green and plays directly into an ocean breeze. A birdie on either hole is a bonus. A whale sighting is a double bonus.

No. 6 at Journey

2. No. 6 at Journey at Pechanga (Temecula)
After playing irons shots at Torrey, it’s time to pull out driver to play this awesomely elevated par 4 at Journey at Pechanga. Trust us when we say you will remember the first time you get glimpse of this tee shot. You’re basically hitting the ball off the side of the mountain and watching it soar like a dimpled seagull to the dogleg-left fairway below. The backdrop is a vast overview of Temecula that makes it seem like you can see all the way to wine country. And cheers to you if you hit a big one here. You’ll feel like Paul Bunyan.

aviara 14

3. No. 14 at Aviara Golf Club (Carlsbad)

Aviara, which is literally an 18-hole botanical garden, has several worthy candidates, but we have an affinity for No. 14, which is in the most remote part of the course. Like holes No. 3 and 11, 14 is an impeccably landscaped and elevated par 3 played over water. The green here is huge and gives you a second scenic treat when you reach it. To the left is a beautiful waterfall complex that’s home to an array of water birds splashing in the pond and soaring in the skies. A Golf Channel announcer said of No. 14 once, “If this hole doesn’t make you want to play golf, I don’t know what would.” Our sentiments exactly.

No. 3 at Coronado

Photo courtesy of

4. No. 3 Coronado Municipal Course (Coronado)

The setting of the Coronado course – surrounded by San Diego harbor – makes it unique, but the glimpse you get of the Coronado Bay Bridge, a San Diego landmark, on holes 2 and 3 in particular is something special. We’re going with hole No. 3, a par 4, for the list because it gives you the most unobstructed view. As you progress through your round, you’ll also catch glimpses of passing Navy ships, downtown San Diego and the Hotel Del Coronado. Being perfectly flat, it’s an ideal course to walk and take in the evolving scenery around you.

No. 7 Encinitas Ranch

Photo courtesy of

5. No. 7 at Encinitas Ranch (Encinitas)

The view at the par-4 7th at Encinitas Ranch isn’t so much about what’s in front of you as what’s behind. Looking back from the tee box, you can see a sweeping view of the two previous holes and a familiar blue hue in the background (the ocean). The scene is a pleasant surprise the first time you play the course and something you forward to when you return. And a bit like No. 14 at Aviara, this hole offers two distinct visual experiences. Your downhill approach is to a green accented by two star pines and a vast view of the valley beyond. When walking off the green, don’t forget your clubs – or to take a picture.

JC Golf: Take The Par 3 Challenge For a Chance to Win Three Years of Free Golf

18greenb-reidy-creek (800x425)

Your prowess on the par 3s at the Reidy Creek executive course in Escondido could pay off in a big way In April.

At 10 a.m. on Masters Saturday, April 11th, a group of lucky golfers will tee it up on the par 3 18th at Reidy Creek for a chance to win up to three years of free golf.

A hole-in-one in the finals of the Reidy Creek Par 3 Challenge will win three years of free golf at Reidy Creek from JC Golf. A closest to the pin that doesn’t hole out will still be awarded one year of free golf.

Spots in the finals are earned through three qualifiers that are taking place in March. The next one is Friday, March 20, at 3 p.m. The final opportunity is Sunday, March 29, at 9 a.m. Admission to each qualifier is $35.

In the qualifiers, players play their normal 18-hole round and simply mark their tee shots as they would in a closest to the pin at a charity event. Each closest to the pin flag won earns one shot at No. 18 in the finale.

On the day off the finale, each winner will take their earned chances at No. 18 for a shot at the big prize. That hole will be a fitting place to spend Saturday during the Masters. The hole has a feel of Amen Corner, with a green sounded by water and accessed via a stone bridge.

Also on the day of the finals, bbq will served and a beer tasting will take place for participants, who are invited to stay and watch The Masters.

For information about the event, call 760.740.2450.

For more information about the course, see my overview of the Reidy Creek playing experience:

JC Golf: Highlight Hole – No. 18 at Rancho Bernardo Inn

RBI 18

One of the most distinctive finishing holes in all of San Diego, and not just JC Golf, is the 18th at Rancho Bernardo Inn.

This closing par 5 starts with an elevated tee shot that can involve carrying a culvert and ends with an uphill approach to a triple-tiered green fronted by a creek and surrounded by two ponds with fountains.

The green view is the glimpse of the course that greets golfers at Rancho Bernardo Inn, and it’s stunning.

But for all its scenery, it’s a hole that requires more strategy than any other on the course. Rancho Bernardo Inn Director of Golf Bryon Penfield says No. 18 is one of the ultimate examples of a hole solved over time and rarely on the first try.

“You’ve definitely got to strategize there,” Penfield says. ”If you’ve playing it for the first time, you might get into some trouble.”

The hole is equal amounts trouble and temptation, which is another reason the hole is a local favorite.

“That hole is the most talked about amongst our regular players and guests,” Penfield says. “It’s got a unique design. It’s not your every-day golf hole.”

William Bell, the architect of Torrey Pines and many other public courses in Southern California, designed Rancho Bernardo Inn.

“His courses usually have some character,” Penfield says, “and No. 18 is a great example.”

Curiously, No. 18 was a much different golf hole when the course opened in 1962. Penfield says only a lake is present in photos of the hole’s original design.

“It was all grass and a lake,” Penfield says. “William Bell came back and added the water features later.”

And the lost ball count was forever changed.

The hole plays to 544 yards from the black tees, 527 from the blues and 508 from the whites. Not matter the tee, the tee shot immediately presents a challenge and a decision that makes this hole play as two different games – the first being a lone-drive contest.

A culvert crosses the fairway and comes into play off the tee. From the black tees, Penfield says it’s a 260-yard carry to cross, all be it often with a tail wind.

(Rule note: There is a bridge for golf cart crossing at the canal. For the most part, everything left of the bridge is considered a free drop by local rule and to the right is the water hazard. The area is marked in red.)

This is where the hole tempts the ego perhaps at the better judgment of strategy. It’s a macho moment to carry the culvert, but it doesn’t always prove to be the best play, Penfield says.

“There are a lot of different strategies there depending your length. Some guys will just fly it,” he says. “I’ve learned to play it as a three-shot hole.”

As have I. “Successful” crossings have sometimes left me blocked on the right side by trees. The rule here, Penfield says, is not to comprise your second shot with your first. Play short of the culvert and to the left of the fairway bunkers.

“The second shot is really big there,” he says. “Even if you make it, you’re still 220 out to an uphill, three-tiered green looking at creek and waterfall. That’s a challenging shot, probably a hybrid for most people. But a good par 5 does present that challenge.

“What people don’t realize on their second (laying up) is that the fairway slopes severely right to left. You’ve got to know to land it on the right side. If you’re even middle left, it might trickle into the water.
“You’ve got to pick your spots on every shot on 18 starting right from the tee shot. It’s a hole that always has you thinking.”

Penfield favors an iron shot on the second.

“The best way to do in most cases is to drive it short of the channel, then take a 7-iron or so layup and try to be between 80 or 90 yards in. Then you’ve got a full sand wedge to an uphill green.”

The mistake many make on their third is to under-club and bring the water into play, or they try to get too precise to a front-pin on the triple-tiered green.

What few realize, Penfield says, is that the hole offers a significant bailout area long and left. He factors it on the occasions he does try to go for eagle.

“If I go for it, I set up left and try to hit a cut. That way, if I don’t hit the cut I’m still OK,” he says. “But I’ve made it a couple times.”

Those who’ve reached in two, however, are far outnumbered by those who’ve found a watery grave for a potential birdie or par.

That sinking feeling is something nearly everyone who plays the hole has experienced, Penfield says, and it seems to only make them more determined the next time.

“We give people a golf course that makes them think a little bit,” he says. ““Our men’s and ladies’ clubs have played that hole for years and it still keeps them guessing. But that’s what a good golf hole should do.”

What’s been your experience at No. 18? Strategies? Successes? Failures you learned from? Please share your stories with us.

JC Golf: Trick Shot Showman Craig Hocknull Returns For Golf Fest 2015


Photo courtesy of

Out of all the tricks in Craig Hocknull’s bag of amazing golf trick shots, the most impressive one at Golf Fest last year might’ve been one the crowd never knew about: Hocknull performed both shows with a significant injury.

“My thumb was broken,” Hocknull said, referring to the recurrence of an injury that forced him off the professional tours and for a time threatened his performing career.

But that context also makes the compliment he received for his performance at Oaks North all the more impressive. One of the show’s vendors told him, “You know you’re one of the best ball strikers in the world, right?”

A healthy Hocknull will return to Golf Fest on March 6-7 to perform his Outback Golf Show at 1 p.m. each day and amaze audiences again with his unique ball-striking display.

Watching videos of Hocknull’s shows evokes comparisons to a one-man golf X Games. Hocknull hits balls rapid fire. He hits shots from his knees. He hits balls off tall tees and with crazy clubs, including one with a hammer head and another with a whippy seven-foot shaft.

Seeing the shots on video is one thing, Hocknull said. Seeing them live is another.

“I hit each ball solid and for distance,” he said. “A lot of people can hit the ball, but they don’t have the control or hit it as far as I do. I can shape shots.”

Hocknull, who teaches in Arizona and has been a teacher of the year, is in his 13th year of performing and does around 20 shows a year. Hocknull is from Australia’s Outback and got introduced to the game at a young age. His show contains a lot of Aussie themes and elements – and audience participation.

Hocknull often hits balls thrown, or bounced, to him by audience members.

“That’s one of my signature tricks,” he said.

After coming to America to play college golf at Jackson St., Hocknull started to dabble with trick shots after he began his teaching career. He found the routine came easily to him.

“I was able to do most of them the first time I tried them, or within a few swings,” he said. “It was all pretty natural.”

After adding a little showmanship, such a golf magic tricks, Hocknull had a career.

Hocknull said his primary purpose is to entertain, but he hopes the show recruits people to the game.

“I went people to leave the show shaking their heads about what they’ve seen, but also to realize how much fun golf can be.”

He said he’s caught kids on the driving range after the show trying to toss balls in the air and hit them or emulate other parts of his act.

With his hand healed, Hocknull said he’s eyeing a return to competitive golf and possibly the Tour.

“It won’t be this year because it takes time to line up sponsors,” he says, “but I figure to have a good year competitively.”

Until then, the show goes on.

To purchase advance tickets or learn more about the show, go to

To learn more about the show and see Craig perform, or to book him for an event, go to

JC Golf: Golf Fest Returns To Oaks North On March 6th and 7th


For the third straight year, Oaks North will be hosting Golf Fest, a two-day showcase of the latest equipment and a host of other golf-related products and services.

The event drew around 2,000 people last year and Oaks North Head Professional Lloyd Porter expects a strong turnout again. Golf Fest is on March 6 and 7 this year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Both days, there’s a huge rush at 9 a.m.,” Porter says. “People are lined up all the way down the fairway. For a typical golfer, it’s exciting because you can see everything in one spot. There aren’t a lot of opportunities like that in Southern California.”

Golf Fest is an event for all ages and abilities. While adults sample products, juniors and beginners can play a six-hole loop for free, with a paid admission ($10 – children 10 and under are free. Parking is $5). Free lessons from a JC Golf pro are also available.

But the big draw is the new equipment, which is set up for testing on the driving range. This year’s vendor lineup includes Callaway, Cleveland/Srixon, Cobra, Ping TaylorMade, Tour Edge and Wilson.

Representatives from each company will be on hand to assist with testing and to answer product questions.

“You’re talking to the experts on every product,” Porter says. “And you’re actually on the driving range so you can see what’s going on.”

And equipment can be fit on site as well, meaning golfers can play their new equipment the same day. The North and East courses remain open for play during the event.

“We’re unique in that we keep the course open,” Porter says. “You can play golf and then enjoy the show.”

Around 70 vendors will be on site, providing everything from custom putters to range finders to massages.
Food (hamburgers, grill chicken sandwiches) and beverages (beer, soda) are also available as part of day that has a carnival-like atmosphere.

Other highlights include:

– A trick shot exhibition at 1 p.m. each day.

– A putting contest on the 9th hole of the South course.

– A hole-in-one contest on Saturday at 3 p.m.

– A goody bag provided by Golf Fest

And to make Golf Fest an even better value, paid admission includes a free future round of golf (Friday – Carmel Mountain Ranch; Sat. – Twin Oaks).

“You can’t lose,” Porter says.

To purchase advance tickets or learn more about the show, go to

JC Golf: Daniel Miernicki Endures A Tough Torrey Pines In Farmers Debut


Daniel Miernicki with caddie Ben Itterman, left, and father Paul, the Director of Instruction at Twin Oaks.

Daniel Miernicki has played hundreds of rounds at Torrey Pines but never one like Thursday.

Under the spotlight of the PGA Tour and amidst course conditions akin to a U.S. Open, Miernicki made his Farmers Insurance Open debut. He had his moments but the South Course had a few more as it took four strokes from him after he shot even par through 11 holes. He finished with a four-over-par 76 heading into his second round on Friday on the easier North Course.

Miernicki, an All-American at the University of Oregon, Monday qualified with a 65 at El Camino Country Club and carried that momentum to the first hole Thursday. He blasted his opening drive 40 yards past his playing partners and then hit his approach into the green slope and watched it settle five feet below the hole. He converted for birdie for a stellar start to his round.

He gave that shot back when he missed the green right on the par 3 3rd and couldn’t get up and down. A birdie on the par 3 8th would be his only other birdie of the day.

Miernicki made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 12 and 13, the toughest stretch of the course, to let shooting par slip away. He then had consecutive bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16. The rough in particular was thick and unforgiving as part of a course set up similar to last year, which many dubbed the toughest Farmers course ever.

Miernicki said the course conditions wore him down a bit.

“The course is really hard, and I struggled a little at the end. Maybe I got a little tired because it’s been such a long week. But it was fun,” he said.

“It was a good start, and I didn’t play that poorly. It was just a tough day. And it’s unlike playing any other event with all the people out.”

Miernicki had only one practice round prior to the tourney. That showed particularly, he said, on the greens.

“I struggled with the green speeds for sure,” he said, “and that’s something that’s just tough to prepare for.”

But Miernicki felt confident that going four- or five-under on the North on Friday would have him in contention to make the cut for the weekend.

“I feel good that I’ll have a chance to make up some strokes,” he said. “The North sets up better for me off the tee.”

Miernicki’s gallery included his father, Paul, the Director of Instruction at Twin Oaks. He called the day and week, overall, “as good as it gets.”

“I thought he was fabulous,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”

JC Golf: Farmers Insurance Open Preview W/Pro Picks

north no. 1

The last time Tiger Woods’ winning aura was seen was when he pulled into the parking lot at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open a year ago.

As the reigning Player of the Year, it was anticipated Tiger would take another victory lap around Torrey Pines, a track where he’s won eight times as a professional … and that’s so not what happened.

After getting thrashed on the North Course by Jordan Spieth on Friday, Woods managed to make the cut but miss the secondary cut on Saturday. We later learned of Tiger’s back issues, which led to him missing much of the season.

The tournament unfolded as a Sunday horse race where, at one point, it looked like an unprecedented six-man playoff seemed possible. Instead, Scott Stallings, a name many fans probably had to Google search, emerged as the winner by a stroke.

This year Tiger returns under what couldn’t be a more different set of circumstances. Here we preview this week’s event followed by picks from our JC pros.

1. Bizarro Tiger – The golf world is wondering what to make of Tiger after his short-game yip-fest in Phoenix. Coming off a career-worst 82, and with football season over, you can bank on his Thursday round getting the full attention, and scrutiny, of a round at a major.

Can Woods piece it back together on one of the courses where’s most comfortable? No one knows, and Vegas is doubting it – posting him at 50-to-1 odds.

Instead of people asking if Tiger can win, they’re wondering if he can make it to the weekend. Quite a different set of a circumstances for a 14-time major winner, indeed.

2. A Tougher TP – Favorable weather conditions, namely a mild winter, in 2014 allowed for a set up closer to a U.S. Open and Torrey Pines took advantage. A similar set-up seems likely this year.

That means a lower-scoring tournament, where it’s doubtful someone goes low and pulls away. That could leave us with a Sunday leaderboard more like last year.

Several media members panned last year’s set-up as being too tough for a February Tour event, saying it created “boring” scoring conditions. They might be hitting copy-and-paste on those columns this year. We’ll see.

3. Time for Spieth, Fowler? – After trouncing Tiger on Friday, Jordan Spieth was the story of the tournament last year until he ran out of gas on Sunday. It was later learned he played on an injured ankle.

Can Spieth come back and finish the job this week? Or will it be another 20-something – Rickie Fowler.

Fowler finished top-five in every major last year, a spectacular year only lacking a victory. Fowler’s visage is everywhere on the course this year. Will it be featured on next year’s winner’s poster at the course entrance? We’ll see.

4. A Favored Son, Anyone? – Pat Perez, a graduate of Torrey Pines High, finished a shot behind Stallings last year after being forced lay up on No. 18. It was Perez’s best finish in the event, but a shot short of the outcome he’s been dreaming of since he worked the range for this event as a youth. There’s no doubt he’ll have the crowd support. Will Perez finally raise the trophy on No. 18 on Sunday this time?

Another local of note is Daniel Miernicki, son of Twin Oaks Director of Instruction Paul Miernicki, who made the field as a Monday qualifier. Miernicki is a University of Oregon recruit.

5. DJ’s back – After a six-month leave for “personal reasons,” Dustin Johnson makes his 2014 Tour debut at Torrey. As the consensus most talented player on Tour for several years running now, will Johnson now have the discipline and focus to turn that potential into a major championship? He can gain some momentum this week with a strong showing. At a minimum, it’ll be fun watching him bomb it on the par 5s at Torrey.

Now the picks from our pros …

Erik Johnson, JC Golf Director of Golf –
My favorite: Tiger Woods. It may seem cliché, but how many times have we seen Tiger come to Torrey Pines feel right at home and bring home the trophy…. eight – seven Farmers Insurance Opens and the 2008 US Open.

In the mix – Brandt Snedeker. He is coming off a lackluster year and is gearing up to get back on top of leaderboards. Watch for him coming off another course he enjoys out in Phoenix…

The long shot – Justin Thomas. This young player bombs the golf ball! He’s 5-10 and 145 pounds and is averaging 302.6 in driving distance this year. He is building confidence with top-10 finishes at The Sony Open and the Humana Challenge and he finished T-10 in 2014.

Blake Dodson, Head Professional, Rancho Bernardo Inn – Rickie Fowler finds his stride.

Troy Ferguson, Head Professional, Twin Oaks – Graham DeLaet (if he plays).

Brandon Delgado, Head Professional, Carmel Mountain Ranch – Charley Hoffman. Coming off a second-place finish at the Humana Challenge, Hoffman is off to a great start in 2015. Seven of his eight rounds in 2015 have been under par and he has already won this season at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Hoffman, who is one of my favorite golfers, is a San Diego native and has helped promote many junior golf programs at some of our JC Golf facilities.

Lloyd Porter, Head Professional, Oaks North – I am going with my “local boy” connections. – Charlie Hoffman and Pat Perez. They both grew up here at Oaks North. Charlie used to pick the range for free balls. Charlie is playing well, and Pat is due to make a big breakthrough. He was in contention last year.

JC Golf: Desert-Style Golf Comes to Carmel Mountain Ranch


At the moment, the course transformation taking place at Carmel Mountain Ranch is more about what isn’t there than what is.

What isn’t there: 50 acres of turf and 600 mature trees.

The scars of that two-month removal process remain, but they are quickly being replaced by mounds of redwood bark, piles of decomposed granite and a new vision for Carmel Mountain Ranch.

Course officials made a dramatic decision that last fall to close the course and embark on a renovation that would help the course achieve new goals of maintenance and sustainability during the prevailing drought conditions in Southern California.

To be more environmentally friendly and water-wise, the 50 acres of turf was removed, largely from tee box areas, landing areas and rough areas surrounding the existing fairways. When you walk onto a tee box at Carmel Mountain Ranch now, you’ll see the bordering landscape that is comprised of shaved redwood bark surrounding plantings of drought-resistance plants.

The area surrounding the cut-back fairway areas are now comprised of gray decomposed granite and will ultimately play like waste bunkers.

New Carmel Mountain Ranch Head Professional Brandon Delgado says the turf-removal process has made him look at golf courses differently.

“You don’t realize how much turf goes unused until it isn’t there,” Delgado says.

And thus the future savings for course and the community. Delgado says that when the plants have matured, the course will converse 400 millions of gallons of water annually, enough to supply 400 households.

Barring weather delays, Delgado expects the course work to be complete and the course rounding into shape by the end of March. Until then, two crews from a team of nearly 50 will be working two shifts daily to complete the renovation process.

In January, players are invited to play the course at a reduced rate ($39 for JC players; $49 for non-JC) and receive a $25 playback pass good through the end of April.

While the course may temporarily suffer a bit in aesthetics, the fairways and especially the greens are in as good a playing condition as any course in the area, Delgado says.

“After two months of no play and a shot of rain, our greens couldn’t be better,” he says.

After the turf removal, the first stage of the renovation to be completed was a flattening of all the tee boxes and a re-positioning of some of them, largely to more advantageous angles from the forward tees.

Golfers who’ve played the course in the past will mostly likely notice an immediate difference on their scorecards.

“Low-handicappers are probably going to see it get a few strokes tougher,” he says, “but high-handicappers should have their scores go down.”

The new tee boxes are also wider and in many cases will allow for a great variety of teeing options, such as on the signature 11th, a par 3 over water.


Left: No. 11 before. Right: No. 11 after.

As someone who’s played the course from the blue tees in the past, I could feel my tee shots getting tighter just walking the course. In particular, I recalled a round that started with a tee shot pulled left on the opening hole, a downhill par 4. My ball settled into the rough, but thankfully tree-free, and I was able to recover to six feet for an opening birdie.

That shot next time will likely be from decomposed granite and possibly a little more challenging to replicate.

The formerly generous 16th fairway renovations also caught my eye. Formerly a straightaway par-4 with a creek carry, the fairway has been tightened significantly, not only near the initial landing area but all the way to the green.

In the past, the course has been a mix of tight tee shots and less restrictive ones, but golfers can expect more uniform play from the new design and an increased premium on fairways.

Delgado says the finished product will be unique amongst San Diego courses and ensure Carmel Mountain Ranch’s sustainability for many years to come.

“We’re going to have a one-of-a-kind golf experience in San Diego and hopefully one of the best golf products out there.”


JC Golf: Degaldo Named Head Pro at Carmel Mountain Ranch


Brandon Delgado, previously the First Assistant Professional at Encinitas Ranch, has been named the Head Golf Professional at Carmel Mountain Ranch.

Delgado, who’s originally from San Jose, takes over in the midst of a continuing turf-reduction transformation at Carmel Mountain Ranch. After being closed for two months while 50 acres of turf was removed, the course re-opened around Christmas and is continuing its efforts to evolve into San Diego’s first desert-style golf experience.

Delgado says it’s an exciting time to be working with the course while it’s re-defining itself.

“It’s always been a goal to achieve a head professional position,” he says, “and this is an incredible experience to learn. It’s almost like opening a new golf course.”

Delgado has actually done that twice in his career. He was on the staff at Arrowood Golf Course in Oceanside when it opened in 2006 and was managed by JC Golf.

After working at the Lawrence Welk Resort as the First Assistant Golf Professional, Delgado took a position at Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach, where he spent almost seven years. During two of those years, Pelican was closed while renovating its fairways.

Delgado arrived at Pelican Hill at the end of a two-year golf course renovation. “The experience I gained being a part of the opening teams at Arrowood Golf Course and Pelican Hill has benefited me greatly here at Carmel Mountain Ranch,” Delgado says.

Thus Delgado has experience with courses in a transformation phase and embraces the experience. This one is unique, however, in that he feels it’s going to be a trend-setter.

The turf reduction is being done largely for environmental and maintenance reasons in response to the current drought in California. Among other benefits, the course will ultimately conserve more than 40 million gallons of water a year, enough to annually supply 400 households.

The renovation makes Carmel Mountain Ranch more environmentally responsible and a better community partner, Delgado says.

“You’re going to see a lot more of this, especially in San Diego,” he says. “It’s the way the industry is headed, and I hope we lead the way and a lot of courses follow us after they see the benefits of what we’re doing.

“We’re going to have a one-of-a-kind golf experience in San Diego and hopefully one of the best golf products out there.”

To book a tee time at Carmel Mountain Ranch and take advantage of its January renovation specials, including a $25 playback voucher, go to

Any questions about the renovation can be directed to Delgado at 858.487.9224, ext. 233 or