The 18 championship holes at the storied Rancho Bernardo Inn have a robust history.

Designed by William F. Bell, architect of Torrey Pines, Industry Hills and Bermuda Dunes, the 6,667-yard course hosted the PGA San Diego Open in 1964 and the LPGA Honda Civic Classic from 1978 to 1980.

So when a marshal just a few days ago said the course is in the best shape he has seen in his 47 years playing “RBI,” the comment certainly raised some eyebrows.

That was before our group had finished. When we did, we all agreed the marshal’s observation from several hours earlier was spot on.

The course is in immaculate shape. The fairways are vibrant and healthy, while the greens are rolling true with consistent speeds on every hole.

“The fairways are like carpet and the greens are in great shape, rolling consistent every time,” said Jason Roth, an Escondido resident who played Sunday morning, barely beating the afternoon rainstorm. “RBI is my favorite JC Golf course and the great conditions we see today proves again why I like playing here so much.”

The Rancho Bernardo Inn is not a bomber’s course. It’s a mature golf course with tree-lined fairways and strategic bunkering. It has its elevation changes and undulating greens, but nothing too abrupt. It’s not tricked up, but has enough complexity to present unique challenges.

It’s one of those courses that can challenge the low handicapper yet is approachable enough for the less-experienced player.

And, in this golfer’s opinion, it also has one of the best finishing holes in San Diego County.

The par-5, 508-yard 18th hole is a dogleg right that requires strategic thinking with every shot. Your drive needs to set up your layup shot that will be between the lake to the left and the trees to the right. Then you have your approach shot over a creek. It’s a seemingly simple wedge shot uphill, but for whatever reason, it rarely turns out that way. Maybe it’s the narrow, three-tiered green that beckons.

The Rancho Bernardo Inn has something for everyone, even for non-golfers looking for a relaxing weekend getaway. Add a golf course in great condition and it’s no wonder RBI continues to be a go-to spot in North County San Diego.


Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.