As the name suggests, Twin Oaks is a tree-lined local favorite in San Marcos. Despite the trees, however, the course allows you to swing more freely than the name, and the first impression you get from the opening holes, might lead you to believe. Twin Oaks is a mid-length course where driver-wedge is a common club combination if you’re striping it off the tee. Birdies and even eagles can be found here on a good day, but perhaps the best thing about a round here is that sunshine is prevalent. Nearly every round I’ve played at Twin Oak has been bathed in sunlight with a gentle, and occasionally gusty, breeze that keeps the course comfortable.
On the Range
Make sure your wedge game is dialed in. You’ll hit plenty of them, even if you’re only driving the ball reasonably well. You’ll be flying it in to many of the holes here.
Hold Onto Your Hat
For various reasons, including pace of play, most courses ease you in with a few relatively easy opening holes. Not Twin Oaks. When you step on the first tee, you’re hit with the toughest part of the course first.
Because of tight, tree-lined fairways, there’s a premium on accuracy for the first four holes. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to bag your driver here and hit hybrid or long iron. You can easily go OB here and add strokes to your card in a hurry. Better to keep it in play and trade 20 yards or so off the tee for a spot in the fairway and hopefully survive this otherwise benign opening stretch mostly unscathed.
Turn It Loose
The par-5 No. 5 is a true grip-and-rip hole and a preview of what much of the rest of the course is like. Plenty of room to operate here, so hit it long and maybe get home in two. Anything over par here feels like a major missed opportunity.
The remaining 5s, and some shorter par 4s, particularly No. 8, are holes where a big drive can pay big dividends.
Double Check Your GPS
No. 7 is the trickiest par-3 on the course. Club selection to this tiered green is huge here and also takes some calculation. Pin location, wind speed and tee box position – they move it all over the place – all play a factor here and can mean hitting anything from sand wedge to seven iron. Choose carefully, swing confidently. When the pin is on the lower tier, you can use the ridge as a backstop.
Take a Picture
As dastardly as No. 7 can be to play, it’s a real beauty when the Lilly pads are in bloom and provide a pleasing floral accent to the hole. Hopefully you won’t be looking for your ball beneath them.
No. 9 is a downhill par-4 with a creek carry to an small green. When the wind is blowing in from the west, factor an extra club, or even two, on your approach. The hole is normally plenty scoreable, but if the pin is back-right, take par if you can get it and be happy about it.
At The Turn
If you’re in need of a snack for the back, 2 Oaks Pub offers a unique treat: homemade potato chips. Grab a bag for the back and enjoy.
Whatever You Do, DON’T Hit It Here
The back begins with a longish par-3, usually played with a strong crosswind. Miss left or short, but DO NOT push one into the bunker of the right. It’s a tough up-and-down, made nearly impossible by the overhanging tree that covers half the trap. Note: Careful on a recovery shot from the left side because those have been known to find the trap as well.
You’ll Want To, But Don’t …
Hit driver on No. 15, a severe dogleg-left par-4 that plays up to 350 yards. It’s tempting, especially if you hit a draw, but there’s little reward for the risk of unnecessarily bringing huge water on the left and sand dead-ahead into play. Sometimes there’s something to be said for letting an easy hole play easy. Just float a rescue or iron out right and be happy with a wedge shot into a receptive green. Your round may be able to use a painless par at this point.
Don’t Let This Hole Hit You on The Way Home
The par-5 No. 16 can trip you up in you’re not careful. Maybe it’s the off-set tee box, but tee shots have a way of going right here and either end up OB or tree-trapped. Left is no picnic, either, thanks to a bunker complex. If you’re hitting it great and straight, by all means fire way. If not, checking down to something that gives you 220-250 yards in the fairway may be your play. Avoid trouble off the tee and there’s little left to worry about besides an occasionally tricky pin position.
Best Chance to End Up Buying A Round for the House (Hole-in-One)
You can make a case for No. 3, but I’m going to go with the straightaway No. 17. It can play up to 194 yards, but often plays much shorter and has a green with several receptive pin placements. You can be aggressive with this one.
You’ll Break 90 if …
You avoid big trouble early in the round and spend the rest of the day playing catch up, although you can certainly do it on the back.
You’ll Break 80 if …
You can steal a birdie from the opening holes and take advantage of the very score-able par-5s and 4s.
But You’ll Probably be Happy With …
A scorecard full of pars and a few solid birdies, particularly if one of them is on the par-3 No. 7. There’s a something especially satisfying about getting a two there after negotiating the water, wind and a green with a huge ridge in it. If the pin is on the lower tier, you can have fun watching the ball filter back to the hole and maybe give you the shot of a lifetime.