ANUARY 27: Hideki Matsuyama of Japan plays his shot on the 17th hole on the South Course during the final round of the the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course on January 27, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

Ben's Back Nine

Golf Course Rankings 6-10

Ben Higgins
July 11, 2019 - 5:00 am

The countdown continues this week! If you missed my rankings for golf courses 11 through 15, click here.  The number of terrific golf courses within about 15 miles of where I grew up in Encinitas is ridiculous. I'm going through my favorites all this month. Just a reminder, here are my guidelines:

I'm ranking the top 15 places you can play in North County. I kept private clubs off the list, and geographically, I tried to shoot for anywhere between Mission Valley and the county line, somewhere between or within a few miles of the 5 and 15 freeways.

This is simply my own list with my own criteria of where I enjoy playing. Feel free to disagree.

#10 - Goat Hill

One of the quirkiest but most fun golf experiences on the planet, Goat Hill was restored by John Ashworth (yes, the guy with his name on all the golf shirts) as a place to relax and have fun. The par-3 layout takes you up and down Goat Hill (just east of the 5 freeway in Oceanside) for some surprising challenges and tricky shotmaking. Even the pros love stopping by for a round at Goat Hill! 

#9 - Twin Oaks Golf Course

If you can keep your ball in play and out of the water on the tight front 9, you've got a great chance to put up a low number at this solid track off the 78 freeway in San Marcos. No bad holes, just a good experience from the crew at JC Golf. 

#8 - Arrowood Golf Course

You're not going to accidentally drive past Arrowood. The course is basically on the border of Camp Pendleton in northeast Oceanside, but I've always considered one of the more hidden gems in San Diego county. The Ted Robinson, Jr designed layout is visually appealing, with a great variety of holes. Watch out, though…just when you think you're putting together a good round, the finishing three holes are ready to strike. #16 is particularly brutal, requiring a long, straight tee shot just to set up a mid-iron or more to an island green. Seriously.  

#7 - The Grand Golf Club

The Grand Golf Club is grand…it's right there in the name. It will also cost more than a grand for a foursome, so I've only played it twice. If you're out for a premium golf experience, though, you won't be disappointed. A well-manicured, spectacular course from the mind of the best designer in the business, Tom Fazio. If you crave luxury (and don't mind losing a couple of sleeves of golf balls into treacherous canyons), break the bank and head to the Grand. 

#6 - La Costa Resort and Spa

36 holes of championship golf, where Tiger Woods won two Tournament of Champions and back-to-back Match Play titles. The Champions (North) course includes the par-3 16th where Woods won a rain-shortened playoff against Tom Lehman with a near hole-in-one. The Legends (South) course features the infamous Longest Mile, a difficult stretch of finishing holes usually playing directly into the coastal breeze. It's also the course where, as a college junior, I blew a 2-up lead on the back nine against local amateur legend Pat Duncan. The crafty old guy (and #1 seed in the tournament) got into my head a little during the San Diego Amateur Match Play Championships. I go back and forth on which course is my favorite, but you really can't go wrong. 

NEXT TIME: I'll count down the #5 through #1 courses in my favorite places you can play in North County San Diego.