Top 5 Best Golf Courses in San Diego

We recommend teeing up at these golf clubs.

Aviara Golf Resort

Whether you are a weekend duffer or a scratch golfer, San Diego is without a doubt a premier destination for the sport of golf. With a number of courses designed by Gary Roger Baird, Tom Fazio, Gary Player and Ted Robinson, it is no surprise that San Diego is consistently ranked among the top 50 golf destinations in the world; not to mention a 2008 nod from Golf Digest as a top 10 – alongside Hawaii, Ireland, Phoenix and Myrtle Beach. 

Let's take a look at the best public and private golf courses San Diego has to offer. 

5. Aviara Golf Resort

Location: 7447 Batiquitos Drive, Carlsbad
Architect: Arnold Palmer
Head Golf Pro: Renny Brown, PGA
Course Features: 18-holes over 7,007 yards with a par of 72

Overlooking the ecological reserve at Batiquitos Lagoon, Aviara Golf Club at the Park Aviara Hyatt, holds several notable accolades as the only course in San Diego designed by Arnold Palmer; the Club was named by Golf Digest and Golf Magazine as one of the best resort golf courses in the U.S., as well as the #1 golf resort in Southern California by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler. The course is complemented by premier golf facilities that include a practice driving range, putting and pitching greens, an industry-leading GPS system on all golf carts, and an upscale golf shop.

Kip Puterbaugh’s Aviara Golf Academy – the longest running golf school in the west (opening in 1987) – is consistently ranked as a Top 25 U.S. golf school; Puterbaugh is among the Top 100 golf instructors.  The Academy is also home to the first TaylorMade Performance Lab in the U.S. Previously available only to PGA Tour professionals, the two-hour custom fitting experience includes driver, fairway woods, hybrids, irons, wedges, and putter. More information

4. The Grand Del Mar

Location: 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, San Diego
Architect: Tom Fazio
Director of Golf: Shawn Cox
Course Features: 18 holes over 7,160 yards with a par of 72

Known for his strong sense of environmental design and challenging-but-fair courses, Tom Fazio, utilizing Los Peñasquitos Canyon as his canvas, married dramatic elevations, diverse bunkering and lush fairways for an exceptional game at The Grand Del Mar. Melding extreme playability with the serene natural setting of this stunning San Diego golf resort, the 7,160-yard par-72 golf course spans more than 380 lush acres, punctuated by dramatic elevations, rolling hills, scenic valleys and shimmering water features.

Golf course at the Grand Del Mar, San Diego

Thanks to San Diego’s renowned climate, one can play year-round on the private rolling greens. Learn one-on-one with PGA-certified instructors. Try the latest clubs, or simply relax in the handsome Clubhouse. This challenging and unforgettable experience is reserved exclusively for resort guests, Members and Villa owners of the resort. From the 5,000-square-foot driving range with two large tees at each end to the secluded short game practice area complete with two bunkers and a green, players can attempt a variety of shots from different mounds, lengths and breaks. An additional separate putting green near the first hole offers yet another option for fine tuning. More information

3. Omni La Costa Resort and Spa

Location: 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad
Architect: Dick Wilson (1965); Joe Lee (1973, 1984); Damian Pascuzzo, Steve Pate & Jeff Brauer (2011)
Teaching Pro:  T.R. Marritt, PGA
Course Features: Champions Course – 18 holes with a par of 36-36-72

Since opening in the coastal foothills of North San Diego, Omni La Costa Resort and Spa has held a long, distinguished history with the greatest players in golf [think Hope, Sinatra and even Wadkins], dating back to the Tournament of Champions in 1969. Most recently hosting the Match Play Championships from 1999-2006 and the LGPA Tour’s inaugural Kia Classic in 2010 [with plans to host the 2012 event as well], the resort also celebrates the dramatic renovation of their North Course; the new Champions Course – under the direction of Damian Pascuzzo and Steve Pate – embraces the integrity of the original Wilson design with modifications to all 18 holes, bunkers, fairway routing and subtle elevation changes [not to mention better drainage, irrigation, turf, and conditioning]. As a result, the new course extends a “resort-friendly” aptitude, while offering a challenging and engaging golf experience.

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa Golf Course

“We are excited to begin a new chapter in La Costa’s legacy,” said Paul McCormick, vice president and general manager at La Costa Resort and Spa regarding the Fall 2011 debut of the new course. “La Costa has been synonymous with the top echelon of golf for more than 40 years, hosting 37 PGA Tour events. It is important that we keep its championship spirit alive.” More information

2. Maderas Golf Club

Location: 17750 Old Coach Road, Poway
Architect: Pete Dye
Head Golf Pro: Mike Lissebeck, PGA
Course Features: 18 holes over 6,647 yards with a par of 72 for the gold tee

Rated the top golf course in San Diego County six consecutive years by the Zagat Survey [since 2003], Maderas Golf Club offers beauty and challenge as it meanders through the rugged terroir of North San Diego’s inland hill country; to the golfer’s surprise, the course itself winds through cliffs, rock outcroppings, creeks and forests over the span of 3.7 miles. Former PGA Tour player Johnny Miller, along with acclaimed landscape architect Robert Muir Graves, designed the course for both quality and difficulty; as one review boasted, the course is ‘a great test of golf.’

Maderas Golf Club in Poway, CA

The Maderas Golf Academy – providing instruction by Chris Mayson, Skip Van Matre and John Darling, PGA – hosts a 25-station driving range and short game facility with several greenside and fairway bunkers. Use of the range and practice facility is complimentary before a paid round of golf. Club fitting is also service offered, helping golfers improve their game and overall confidence in their swing. More information

1. Torrey Pines Golf Club

Location: 11480 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla
Architect: William P. Bell and William F. Bell in 1957; Rees Jones remodeled the South Course in 2001 Director of Golf & Head Golf Pro: Joe DeBock, PGA
Course Features: South Course – 18 holes over 7,607 yards with a par of 72; North Course – 18 holes over 6,647 yards with a par of 72

Stepped along La Jolla’s coastal bluffs overlooking the Pacific, the Torrey Pines Golf Club – easily recognized as the premier course in the region and host to the PGA Tour for the past four decades – is widely known for both its South and North championship 18-hole courses. Playing host to the Farmer’s Insurance Open in the winter, along with the San Diego City Amateur Golf Championships and the Junior World Golf Championships in early summer, Torrey Pines is the only municipal golf course ever selected by the USGA for a U.S. Open Golf Tournament. Often referenced as “Pebble Beach South,” both courses are long and challenging – but do offer unrivaled panoramas of the coast and ocean expanse. The signature hole on Torrey Pines South is the Par 3, #3 Hole; for Torrey Pines North, it is Par 3, # 6 Hole.

torrey pines golf club courses

Torrey Pines was the site of perhaps the most memorable modern day U.S. Open Championship, when in 2008, under the typically brutal conditions of this major tournament, an injured Tiger Woods defeated Rocco Mediate during a sudden death playoff after 90 grueling holes of exciting golf. The club also offers one of the largest on-course golf shops in the U.S., expert instruction and advanced golf schools. More information