I played Barona Creek last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed my round.
I few things I came away with:
- "Bunker Slut" paradise yes, and I must say myself, the bunkers are very attractive. They are however, much more than just eye candy.
- Although the course is fairly wide off the tee, there are many holes that ask you to think on the tee box: how much do I chew off? Driver or something else for better position? This process is compounded by firm and fast conditions where the ball really bounces and rolls out.
- The greens and green complexes really make the course. If this course had flat, boring greens, it would be a pushover. Thankfully that is not the case. They have a ton of movement, interior as well as "draining" in from the green surrounds, which dictates strategy on approaches, lay-ups and, as mentioned before, even drives.
- Just getting on the green does NOT mean an easy two putt. For the day I had four 3-putts and a 4-putt; and I think my 3-putt avoidance is pretty good! There is a lot of subtle movement that is really confusing and confounding, as well as bigger, more severe humps and bumps.
- The aforementioned subtle, and not so subtle, movement on and around the greens makes for some really fun green side shots. The fairways (especially close to the green) were so tight and firm that putting from them was often the best shot. On 17, I hit a putt from about 10 yards off the green, which rolled true as if on a muni green, up and over a large mound, curled across the green and stopped at a couple feet. Now that is just FUN!
- On top of all that, it is a beautiful setting with the course nestled in a valley.
I would highly recommend Barona Creek for someone visiting the otherwise not so great San Diego golf scene. Here are a few more pics (sorry for any redundancy):
#4 Cape style "bite off as much as you can"
Notice the green on the far left of the picture. I really like the bunker on the far side of the fairway which forces the extra-long player to either REALLY cut the corner, or lay well back to the right of it.
The bunker I was referring to in the middle right of this photo
#7 Looks like it could have a little redan-ish playing style, however that is very incorrect due to a large fall-off long and right. This hole is confusing off the tee: long left looks dead and right looks like the safe miss. It is actually just the opposite...
#8 Approach to this long par 4
#11 My favorite short hole on the course. Large area of green exists behind the bunker on the right. Really cool work incorporating the native rock and bunker complex long left.
#12 Neat blind drive up over a hill leaves this approach:
#14 Really cool short drivable (maybe) par 4
It's all green behind that bunker on the left:
#15 Nice view from the tee on this downhill par 4
Laying back and too the right (and challenging the fairway bunkers) gives you the best angle into the green. Bombing long left leaves an uphill shot over a large bunker.
#16 No run-up option on this par 3. Green has lots of movement
Approach from the wrong angle: