September 22-28, 2008
Golf: San Diego County has approximately 93 courses making it one of the premier golf destinations in North America. Since the weather is good all year round, it is not just a place for snow birds during the winter.
San Diego County offers something for everyone. You can play the finest courses in the world or tee up at the local municipal courses. There are numerous executive and par threes scattered around the county as well.
Not golfing? Why not just stroll along the miles of sandy beaches.
In order to give you a comprehensive look at golf in the northern part of the county we reviewed a selection of different types of courses. We played: Maderas, Oceanside Municipal, and two resort courses (one at Temecula Creek in the wine country and Warner Springs Resort built around a hot spring and spa). We also played an executive layout at the Welk Resort where we stayed, and two semi public clubs.
We found plenty of courses with reasonable green fees especially if you book online with any of the last minute booking agents. Book three days or less in advance and save up to half of your green fees. At Eagle Crest the two fellows playing behind us told us they paid $20 each and that included cart. This has to be one of the best bargains in North America.
Besides finding good rates on line do not forget twilight times. In August you can play until 8pm with twilight rates starting around 1am. Twilight plus online booking equals big discounts.
Even though the temperatures on our last two days reached 98 degrees we never felt that it was too hot as the humidity was not very high. All the courses we played included the cart with the green fees.
It was very easy to get around as most of the courses are east of Interstate 5 or close to Interstate 15. I also took my portable GPS and this proved to be a big help in locating the courses. If you do not have one, then I recommend you pick one before your next trip.
All the courses were surrounded by hills and mountains which made them all very scenic.
One of the things that I have never been able to understand was the knee jerk reaction by Canadian courses to removing the water containers because someone in the USA spiked one somewhere. There are plenty of ways to secure water containers but not many Canadian courses tried.
At the golf clubs we played there was plenty of water. Sure, it is hotter there then most places in Canada but they made the containers impossible to tamper with. We found the beverage carts offered as much ice as we needed to keep our drinks cold. One course, Warner Springs, had an ice machine and cold water dispenser ½ way, so you could replenish your containers. Maderas had four water containers just on their practice facility. Good job providing water for golfers San Diego County.
We were also impressed with the consistent quality of the greens at all the clubs we played. Every one had excellent greens with no bare or brown spots. Maybe it is easier to keep them in shape as the greens do not have to survive severe winters. However, the fairways were not consistent with many having brown areas with sparse grass. Maybe they just use more water on the greens then the fairways.
One other item that I find important when you golf is the price of beer. We all know that beer is cheaper in the USA then Canada for a variety of reasons. At Eagle Crest the beer was only two dollars. It was cheaper then a soft drink. The other courses had similar prices with the most we ever paid from the beverage cart being around $3.50.
Click below to read golf course reviews:
Getting There: We made a mistake selecting the lowest air fare for our trip. We decided to go via Vancouver and LAX (Los Angeles International Airport). Changing planes in Vancouver from a domestic flight to one going to the USA was very time consuming. Give yourself plenty of time. You have to walk from one end of the airport to the other. Going through US customs was simple but then we hit grid lock. A very large line waiting for security, even though we cleared security in Edmonton. The area was too small to handle the crowd. After clearing security we had another long walk to the gate. Everyone complains about LAX but it was much easier then Vancouver. We got off the plane, walked a short distance, got our bags and went outside to board the shuttle to the car lot. Very simple. Coming back it was just as easy. The shuttle dropped us in front of the AC door. We checked in, put our bags on the belt and went through security in no time. Right after security was our gate. Very easy check in.
Even though LAX was good it was still a mistake as we got on I-5 right at rush hour. Bumper to bumper as we made our way to the lovely town of San Clemente. Coming back to LAX was a two hour drive on I-15 which took us over and under and around all the over passes you could possibly imagine. We gave thanks once again for our GPS.
If I was to do it again I would try John Wayne Airport or San Diego. I might ever think about going via LAX and connecting to a flight to Carlsbad. Using John Wayne or San Diego airports would have saved us about 1 hour of heavy traffic.
I have been critical of AC in the past but I must say they have improved. Their entertainment system is excellent with lots of movies to watch. From Vancouver to LAX we flew with United. There is no comparison between the two airlines. Air Canada wins hands down.
We found the prices of car rentals ranged from around $190 to $400 a week. Taxes were extra. We used Advantage and had a great car and their service was good. Make sure you check some of the smaller car rental agencies.
Accomodations: There are plenty of the standard motels and hotels from which to choose. Since the motels and hotels are the same all over North America we decided to stay in a few resorts for review purposes.
There are many resorts and the price ranges from good value to very, very expensive. Why not choose a resort and experience living on the course with all the amenities they offer? It will make your trip more pleasant and relaxing.
We stayed at the fantastic San Diego Welk Resort which is just 45 minutes from San Diego and 30 minutes to Carlsbad and the beach. This resort was started by Lawrence Welk, the famous big band leader. The resort is located on 660 acres of land just off the I-15 and surrounded by rolling foothills. Our condo was a modern, large, one bedroom with all the space we needed. The resort has seven pools, four recreation centers, fitness rooms, tennis, two golf courses, a dinner theater, very good restaurant and bar along with a Pizza Hut, mini mart, and souvenir store. The grounds were immaculate and the staff were friendly. We got all this for the week, for just $599 for the condo.
On our second last day we toured the Warner Springs Resort. This resort is located about 1 hour east of the Welk Resort. As we drove through the mountains to reach Warner Springs we climbed to 3100 feet and passed three large casinos. The road took us to a high, brown grass plain that made us wonder why we decided to go to Warner Springs. Then we went around a corner and found an area of green trees, golf course, and a spa. This resort can accommodate about 600 guests in their 234 California style casitas. The resort has a lot of history as demonstrated by the historic cabin that belonged to Kit Carson and was built in 1870. This resort is famous for its hot springs, spa, tennis and equine center. This is a place where you might want to spend a few days relaxing in the hot spring waters after a round of golf. Prices range from $109 a night for golf and hotel per person. The resort is only 20 minutes from the old mining town of Julian, a place you must visit if you or wife like to shop.
The final resort visited was the Temecula Creek Inn right in Temecula. You pass the resort and course as you travel north on the I-15. This resort has three, three story building located on the golf course. The resort offers standard hotel rooms with all the amenities you would expect from a quality resort. The resort has three different nine hole lay outs and we played two of them and found each nine very different. Their restaurant offers fine dining with a decent selection of California wine.
While at Temecula Creek why not explore the old town of Temecula and visit the 22 wineries located in the valley. There is a large casino just up the road. In fact, you can see it from the golf course.
Dining: In Northern San Diego County you can find almost any type of dining you could wish for. Restaurants are everywhere and all types of cuisine is available.
Remember that American restaurants serve huge portions so you might like to share a few dishes. Happy hours and Early Bird specials are everywhere.
We searched for dinning experiences that were close to, or on the beach. After all, why come all the way to California and not see the beach and the sunsets.
Since we were so close to Mexico we went to the Norte Restaurant in Carlsbad. We arrived early so we could benefit from the early bird specials. Our Mexican meal was very good with more then we needed. The service was excellent even though this large restaurant was very crowded with weekend holiday makers. We did not look at a the wine list as we decided to drink local beer with our tacos, enchiladas and burritos.
On another night we choose to dine on the beach at Del Mar. There were a number of attractive restaurants right on the sand facing west. We choose the Poseidon which turned out to be a great choice. We had a table right on the beach and glorious view of the setting sun. The meals were reasonably priced and the menu offered a good variety. The wine list was good with mostly California wine. Since we were on the beach we choose fish for our main meal. Once again we choose wisely.
Poseidon has valet parking for only $3 which is a lot cheaper then parking on the street or adjacent parking lot. The only criticism I have, is that I gave the valet attendant a five dollar bill and he never asked if I wanted change or gave me change. Sure I probably would have given him the $2 tip but I like to make that decision.
The other dining out experience that was not at a golf club or a fast food restaurant was the restaurant at the Welk Resort. Once again we found the prices to be very reasonable with most mains around $15. The restaurant is attractive and we had a nice table on the patio with views of the mountains. This night we were beef eaters. We choose ribs and my friend had a steak. The ribs were fine, average quality, but Dan said his steak was excellent. Our server was friendly and offered good advice on what to order and drink. We had a great Cabernet Sauvigon that paired very well with the beef.
I also want to mention that we stopped at one of those small truck stop restaurant bar combinations that look so interesting and intriguing as you pass them on the highways. Since it was hot, 98 farenheit, and we had not had lunch, I pulled in to get an ice cream cone. Dan had the biggest cone you could imagine and I had the best, thickest, chocolate milk shake you could ever want. It was great. I just wish I could remembered the name of this friendly little stop on the way down the mountain from Warner Springs to Temecula.
You can not go wrong when you dine out in Southern California.
Activities: What can I say that you do not already know about San Diego. We were an hour from Sea World, the world famous San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Safari Park, Disneyland and Legoland. If you have children, then this is the place to visit. Check out the Birch Aquarium for an education on the sea and the sea life of the California coast.
Of course golfers are sport fans. Baseball. Three teams within a an hour. Football. Why not take in a Chargers game? Fishing, hiking, biking, tennis, and boating can be found just a brief drive from wherever you are staying. Sorry, I forgot Del Mar. This is one of the famous racing tracks in the world and it is right down the road from your resort.
What about all the shopping? There is a Factory Outlet Mall north of Temecula. Malls everywhere, and of course a trip into San Diego would also turn up plenty of bargains. You may even what to cross over the boarder and go to Mexico.
Take a day and tour the wine region around Temecula.
Drive along the coast and stop at all the quaint towns. This will take more then a couple of days. Shop La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, and Oceanside. You will not be disappointed.
We had eight days for this trip and it was not enough. Two weeks would be the minimum amount of time you would need in order to explore and experience all that there is this wonderful part of the world.
No we never felt an earthquake. In fact the locals told us that a lot of little ones are a good thing as it releases the pressure and helps delay the big one.