Arnold Palmer may have said it best about this crazy game of ours.
“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated,” he said. “It is at the same time rewarding and maddening.”
He also said it is “without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” I think of those latter words by The King whenever I play Encinitas Ranch.
The par-72, 6,587-yard course is a coastal gem with ocean views, a wide-open layout and sizeable greens. The JC Golf course rewards good shots and can be forgiving of the so-so ones, enough so that you won’t be scratching your head in the clubhouse after the round wondering what the heck went wrong.
Encinitas Ranch is not a punishing journey. In fact, it may be one of the most rewarding. All this against a coastal backdrop that surely was conjured up by the golf gods in golf heaven.
Here’s a glance at this Cary Bickler design:
Favorite Hole: The journey at the 365-yard seventh hole begins with a blind uphill tee shot. A solid drive that works slightly right to left will pay dividends as the hole finishes with a scenic downhill approach shot. Play this one conservatively since left is trouble the whole way. It is marked as the second-toughest hole on the course so secure your 4 and get out of there.
Favorite Stretch: Holes 5-8 are a great use of the hilly terrain on the front nine. The seventh and eighth holes are a great 1-2 punch, as the quirkiness of No. 7 is backed up by a daunting tee shot (from the blue tees) that requires a force carry over a canyon. And anything left is out of bounds.
Best View: The 442-yard 10th hole sits high above Leucadia Boulevard and looks downward toward the ocean. The hole is a welcoming downhill endeavor with endless options. It’s a nice way to ease into the back nine and keep your momentum going.
Junior Haven: Encinitas Ranch has long been known for putting out the welcome mat for junior players. With director of instruction John Mason at the helm, Encinitas Ranch recently introduced the Junior Tournament Players Card, where kids can play as many holes as they can play starting at 5:30 p.m., all for just $3 per day. Call the course at (760) 944-1936 to learn more.
A Special Place: Encinitas Ranch is more than just golf. It’s golf in one of nature’s best settings. Director of golf Blake Dodson summed it up best after arriving from the Rancho Bernardo Inn back in 2014. “This place just embodies the California lifestyle,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds. You have a beautiful design coupled with nature’s best view. It’s so inspiring.”
A place for a king.
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.