Hidden gem.

The best-kept secret in San Diego County.

Two nines. Two experiences.

This is how many people are describing Woods Valley Golf Club in Valley Center, the newest member of the JC Golf family.

The Valley Center track has been known for its two distinct nines since it opened in 2004, but it has been turning heads more recently as the course conditions have dramatically improved thanks to the arrival of superintendent John Martinez earlier this year.

The par-72, 6,707-yard layout (6,315 yards from the blue tees and 5,901 from the whites) is not a bomber’s course, rather a thinking man’s course with subtleties that can turn troublesome at times.

The front nine lays out almost links style (add the two par 3s that demand carries over water), while the back nine transforms into a tighter course as it winds through oak and sycamore trees. Narrower and armed with strategic bunkering (see the approach on 10), the back is more about precision and shot selection.

“What I really like about this golf course is you don’t have to hit driver on every hole,” said head pro Grant Strobel. “You can if you want, but you can also lay back with a 4-iron, a 3-wood or rescue club. You have those options on practically every hole. You really have to think.”

Strobel, who served as assistant pro at Fairbanks Ranch for five years before coming to Woods Valley, said he’s been getting tremendous feedback on the conditions. (In our foursome last Saturday, the group lauded the consistency and surprising speed of most greens.)

He’s also been receiving comments about the surprising proximity of Woods Valley to many players.

“When people think Valley Center, they think it’s far, but Woods Valley is only 15 minutes east of (Interstate) 15,” Strobel said. “It feels like north Escondido.”

JC Golf has been working with Woods Valley for more than a year, and for a limited time, JC Players Card holders can play Woods Valley for $34 Monday-Friday and $50 on the weekends (rates include cart). Also for a limited time, non-cardholders can play for a “preview the course” rate of $39 (Monday-Friday) and $55 (weekends).

“Woods Valley fits in perfectly with JC Golf,” said Erik Johnson, director of golf operations for JC Golf. “I think JC Players are going to love it because it’s a strong golf course design. And then you layer in conditioning of the course, it’s a perfect marriage.”

To make a tee time at Woods Valley, call (760) 751-3007 or visit woodsvalleygolfclub.com.

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