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Five Observations About The Playing Experience At The Crosby

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The Crosby is an exclusive country club located in Rancho Santa Fe. The club is named for the famed entertainer Bing Crosby, whose legacy is celebrated by, among other things, the main street – Bing Crosby Boulevard – being named after him and tee markers designed as musical notes.

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Once you pass through the double gates at The Crosby, you discover a golf experience unlike any other in San Diego and only one other – that I know of, anyway – in all of Southern California.

I played The Crosby for the first time two years ago when I was still fairly new to the area. I’d played a handful of Southern California country clubs at that point, but nothing like The Crosby. I felt instantly transported to a golf experience that redefined the ultimate experience for me.

I had no comparison for The Crosby until I was fortunate enough to play Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. The mountain backdrops, the stunning vistas and elevation changes immediately evoked comparisons to The Crosby.

I returned to The Crosby recently with that reframed appreciation and giddy anticipation golfers get when they know they’re about to play the game at its highest levels.

Here’s an overview of what can expect if you are fortunate enough to experience golf at The Crosby.

1. Eases You In – I’ve played The Crosby twice now and felt instantly comfortable both times. I attribute that partly to the layout, which eases you in. The course opens with an inviting par 5 and a short par 4. I birdied the par 5 the first time I played it, which always helps your comfort level, especially on a new course. Another score-able par 4, though it’s the No. 1 handicap, and a second par 5 follow. You can score early here without having to be perfect.

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2. Elevation Elation – The Crosby has elevation changes with the best them – and it starts with the 5th hole. This is the beginning of The Crosby you’ll remember and the first of a trio of elevated par 4s. No. 5 offers a stunning sweeping view of the valley that evokes the feeling in a golfer that you can drive the ball to infinity. You get the same feeling on the par 4 7th and again on the 9th. The seventh fairway is framed around a massive boulder, one of many incredible rock, or exposed rock, formations on the course. The 9th is a downhill drive-able par 4 surrounded by gleaming white bunkers that give The Crosby a touch of Augusta as well. Now about that sand …

3. Bring Your Sand Game – If bunker practice isn’t part of your normal warm-up routine, call an audible and take 5 minutes here. The driving range, which is spacious and spectacular, has a short-game area with a practice bunker that’s not as severe as some of what you’ll find on the course, but adequate to get you acclimated. The Crosby’s greens are well defended, and though my ball didn’t find many traps, it was sometimes a doozy of an out when it did. You’ve got to be able to throw the ball high here, and that can apply to some of the collection areas as well. An ounce of sand practice prevention here can save you a pound of painful bogey recovery on the course – trust me.

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4. Nos. 16 & 17 – The Crosby’s layout is a bit akin to a book or movie with a surprise twist toward the end – but a pleasant one. After 11 holes of elevation and undulation, your cart suddenly arrives at a pond filled by cascading waterfalls, a water feature shared by these two holes. It’s an aesthetic change up you don’t see coming (Note: By now, you haven’t seen water since the 4th hole.). The 16th is a par 5 with a reverse crescent moon-shaped fairway that plays along the pond and the waterfalls and will involve an approach over water if your second shot finds too much of the left side. The 17th is a long par 3 where a touch of wind from the right can get your tee shot wet. But pars or birdies at 16 and 17 set you up for a strong finish on 18, a mid-length par 4.

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5. Pace & Tranquility –
As you’d expect from a premium exclusive country club experience on a weekday, course traffic was light. Only 12 people total were on the course when I started, and I didn’t see any of them until the 16th hole. That made for the possibility of a speedy round but, as famed former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden used to say, you want to be quick but don’t hurry. Give yourself time to get lost in The Crosby experience, which is largely one of tranquility. Save for a few stretches of stunning homes, you’re largely alone with the golf experience and can surrender to your natural golf Zen. Devoid of the distractions you find on many courses, particularly public, you can simply be at one with your shot and the scenery, which I think is another reason I’ve settled into my game quickly and played well here both times. I had a similar experience and success at Sherwood, or The Crosby North, you might say. So far, they rank as my two ultimate Southern California golf experiences.

The Best Golf Walks in San Diego

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Photo courtesy of www.golfdigest.com

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I had a really fun interview this morning with Chad Beckley of Premiercaddie.org about his company’s caddying services that unwittingly produced the material for a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time.

My list of laments about Southern California golf – and trust me it’s a very short list – includes the lack of walkable courses. Before moving here, I walked the majority of my rounds in the Midwest. In fact, my favorite way to play was to hike out for nine in the late afternoon.

Largely due to course layout and topography of California courses, and a bit due to course business models, a good golf walk in SoCal is tough to find … but not impossible.

But if anyone would know where to find one, it’s a caddy since they make their living on their two feet in golf shoes every week.

Anyway, Chad provided me a list that’s better than I could’ve come up with on my own. But we before we get to that, Chad also makes a great case for walking.

“I’m not a strict purist, but walking is a fundamental part of the game. And it’s good for you,” he says. “Also, I think players who walk have a different respect for the game than those who don’t.”

And a different appreciation. I felt like a new a course better once I had walked it and played better as well. Also, walking builds a natural pacing into your game. And I’d certainly much rather walk on a course where I’m anticipating slow play. Riding in a cart just makes it worse.

But anyway …

So here’s the list from a real authority on the subject.

Best Golf Walks in San Diego, courtesy of premiercaddie.org

1. Torrey Pines
2. Ranch Santa Fe CC
3. El Camino CC (Oceanside)
4. Admiral Baker – “The north course is the sleeper of the county. So good. And great greens.”
5. Coronado
6. Balboa – “It’s a little tougher walk the rest. Definitely No. 6, but still good.”

Of those, I’ve played Torrey, El Camino and Coronado and all three would’ve made my list. I also would’ve added St. Mark’s in San Marcos, although I’m not sure walking is an option at least as far as the cart is included in your round.

Torrey is obviously a fantastic walk. I would likely do it every week if I had a city card. El Camino is where I’ve walked the most and wouldn’t play it any other way. So enjoyable.

I didn’t walk Coronado when I played it but would if I did again. It’s flat as the deck of an air-craft carrier.

Premier Caddie currently provides caddying services primarily at Torrey Pines, Maderas Golf Club, the Grand Del Mar, Del Mar CC and Rancho Santa Fe CC.

If you have any other preferred walks, please post in the comments section, which I know is getting spammed to high heaven. I’m working on getting that cleaned up. Thanks for your patience. The blog is a little busy.

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