San Diego, Calif., The Grand Del Mar, The Grand Golf Club

Apr 1, 2010
2010 / April 2010

The Grand Del Mar in San Diego, voted by Global Traveler readers as the Best Hotel in the United States, may have won due to The Grand Golf Club, which adds a great deal to the property. The Tom Fazio-designed course originally opened in 1999 as part of the Meadows Del Mar, a private residential community. In 2003, the course was purchased as part of The Gra

nd Del Mar Resort.

The course lies in Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve and boasts varying degrees of elevation, various types of bunkering and detailed maintenance, likening it to a private golf course. It is, in fact, private — open only to members and hotel guests.

A true sense of the private club feel comes through the forecaddy program. Each foursome has an experienced forecaddy to guide and offer advice — and in our case, laugh at our jokes! Wes, our forecaddy, aimed to please by eyeing putts, offering advice and raking bunkers. He added a great deal to our enjoyment of the course.

The hotel is magnificent and the restaurant, Addison, offers a great night out. Chef Bill Bradley was featured in the “Bon Vivant” article of the November 2007 issue of Global Traveler.

Not a penny was spared during the construction of The Grand Del Mar. It was money well spent, and the property is definitely worth a visit. You can relax by the pool or hop a shuttle to the beach. The ornate on-site chapel is a unique, must-see venue.


Hole 1 (383 yards, par 4)

Our caddy, Wes, gave us the lay of the land and explained the intricacies of the course. Just near the tee box is a statue of golf legend Bobby Jones, the only golfer to win the true golf “Grand Slam.” In 1930, Jones won the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.

From the tee box, you are taken by the downhill fairway and the narrowness of the course. Left center of the fairway is the key placement for your drive, but mine careened right and seemed to be lost in the sloping hills. When we came near the green, we saw my drive had returned to play, rolling down the cart path under a tree that guards the right of the green. A botched chip past the flag and a putt that just missed the pin carded me a bogey.


Hole 3 (565 yards, par 5)

This 565-yard par 5 lies at the base of rolling hills and offers a narrow fairway. From the tee box, keep your shot away from three fairway bunkers, two left and one right, which lie just before the dogleg turns left and where the hole starts a gradual uphill to the green — one of the longest on the course. Make sure you are aware of the false fronts and a large hump running through the middle of the green.


Hole 4 (480 yards, par 4)

Lots of trouble on this No. 1-ranked handicapped hole. From the tee box you can clearly see the design of the dogleg left and the bunkers strategically placed on the right and left of the fairway. Straying beyond these two points means trouble with rough and ravines. What is not clear from the tee box is the fairway’s dramatic slope down to the green at about 100 yards out. You can bump and run onto the green, as there are no obstacles but a trap on the left side.


Hole 5 (378 yards, par 4)

This very narrow hole is a little intimidating from the tee. The fairway slopes significantly from right to left. The fear is that your ball will land left but then bounce out and into the dense brush and trees.

Vlad’s worst fears became a reality as he drove the ball along the left side, and rather than inching further right and back into play, the ball continued on course and even gave up some trajectory to the left, landing and staying in San Diego forever. I had a decent drive and a better approach, saving par. Others on the team favored the right side, and they were not to be seen again until the next hole!


Hole 11 (212 yards, par 3)

This is not a particularly special or beautiful hole, but it was so much fun, I have to include it. I teed off and landed squarely on the backside of the green. Steve pushed his shot to the right bunker, Bill came up short and Vlad overshot the green into the trees and bank below. It was the recovery shots that were so enjoyable: Steve shot out of the trap, landing next to the pin for a gimmie 3; Bill chipped on the green for a long-putt par; I putted for a par; and Vlad . . . well, we won’t discuss his score — it was a little higher!


Hole 12 (600 yards, par 5)

This is a killer hole, the longest on the course. The club pro reminded us that it requires every inch from every shot you play. From the tee box you drive over a small pond to a landing area where accuracy is key. The second fairway wood shot requires all you can muster to lay up for your approach while avoiding moguls, traps and a fairway that slopes left to right.


Hole 16 (515 yards, par 5)

This hole was drastically changed, from a par 4 to a par 5, adding 115 yards and making it significantly more difficult. It is also the shortest par 5 on the course, so you have a chance at a birdie. The fairway runs downhill as a slight dogleg right and demands absolute accuracy. My teammates had difficulty keeping their balls in play; we learned that tee and fairway shots favoring the left side tend to roll back toward the center of the fairway. For big hitters trying to make the green in two, there is a natural growth area on the left side, and water can also take some shots that are too long.


Hole 17 (242 yards, par 3)

This 242-yard par 3 will be unreachable in regulation for most golfers; many approach it as a par 4. The large water hazard, which runs in front of the green and most of the bail-out area, took most of our drives. Best play for those not confident to reach the green is the right side, but you might find your ball rolls into the trap greenside. Back tee placement can be particularly challenging, as the green is tiered.


The Grand Golf Club
The Grand Del Mar
5200 Grand Del Mar Way
San Diego, CA 92130
tel 858 314 1930

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