The signature par-3 11th
JC Golf is proud to announce the latest addition to its golf family: Carmel Mountain Ranch.
Situated just 25 minutes from downtown San Diego, Carmel Mountain Ranch has been serving golfers from all over San Diego County and beyond since 1984. In the past, it has even hosted U.S. Open qualifying as well as a variety of other tournaments and events.
At 6,599 yards (from the back tees), Carmel Mountain is a mid-length course that requires a good deal of strategy but also has a fair amount of holes that allow big hitters to let it fly.
Prior reviews of the course have called it “a true shot-maker’s course,” and it is that, especially on some of its short par-4s, which take a few rounds to learn.
Carmel Mountain General Manager Kevin Hwang says the course has a reputation for being rough for first-timers.
“The course has a reputation for being tough, but we’re in the process of trying to ease that burden for people,” Hwang says.
That’s mostly by managing speeds on the course’s undulating greens. Hwang says the course’s tiered greens can yield a bevy of three-putts if not managed properly.
“The greens are a little tricky, which is why don’t let them run too fast,” he says.
The course has many unique holes, but the signature is the beautifully landscaped par-3 11th, which plays to 158 yards and involves a carry over a pond and waterfall. The pin was front right the day I played and I just missed having my tee shot pull back to the hole on the undulating green.
“It’s actually our shortest par-3. It’s a lot fun to play,” Hwang says.
The following is a look at few more things you can look forward to during future rounds at Carmel Mountain Ranch.
1. Great Driving Holes – If you’re striping it off the tee to start, you can really take advantage of the first two holes, both of which are downhill par-4s. You’re set up for a similarly strong start on the back with the downhill par-5 10th and then there’s another dramatic downhill on the par-4 14th.
The par-5 10th is most definitely reachable in two with a solid drive, and the wide fairway offers multiple angles of attack as long as you avoid the bunkers on the right. The large, receptive green makes a great opportunity to kick off your back nine with a birdie. This used to be the starting hole, by the way, until the nines were reversed. So if you haven’t played the course for a while, be aware of that.
2. Unique Views – Having beautiful mountain vistas as a backdrop is common in this part of Southern California, but what is a bit uncommon is how much the course’s design incorporates its surroundings.
For instance, on the drive to the par-4 14th, you’re greeted by a field of huge boulders and actually drive between two of them to reach the tee box. It’s stunning every time you experience it, but particularly the first time.
You’ll find similarly sized stones in fairways and sand traps throughout the course.
Also unique to the area are the hawks and falcons you’ll see soaring and circling above, riding the breeze and giving you a glimpse of nature’s wonders at work.
The par-4 7th
3. Unique Holes – Because the course was designed to maximize course exposure for the homes, many holes are set off in their own amphitheater.
The product of that design is an uncommonly unique layout.
“We’re definitely not parallel fairways,” Hwang says. “And you don’t see two holes that look the same.”
Two of the most talked about, and unique, holes on the course are two short and highly strategic par-4s.
The first is No. 7, which plays to 311 yards from an elevated tee. The number probably already has many of you ready to pull driver, but hold that thought.
There’s a huge boulder surrounded by a sand trap lurking about 280 yards out. If you don’t make the carry, your ball could hit the boulder and bound OB or leave you in some other tricky predicament.
An iron or rescue to a comfortable second-shot yard is the preferred play, but doesn’t dissuade many from going for the green.
Driver isn’t an option, however, on the 325-yard par-4 17th. Front by a sizable pond, this short par-4 is a true two-shot hole.
Carrying the water on the second shot has been many players’ undoing, Hwang says.
“There’s no running it up there. You’ve got to hit a shot.”
And to a somewhat smallish green. I played the hole 7-iron, 6-iron, which was more than I wanted on my second shot, but I still managed the land the ball on the fringe and make a two-putt par.
It may take you a few rounds to learn the best way for you to club No. 17, but you’ll find par to be a plenty good score there.
4. Practice bunker/short game area – As someone whose greenside sand game tends to be inconsistent, I find it a relief any time there’s a practice bunker available. Carmel Mountain Ranch has one is its sizable short-game area.
I practiced sands shots for about 15 minutes and it saved me a few strokes during my round. The bunker is a bit benign in that it doesn’t have steep walls, but it’s enough to get in some solid practice.
There’s a separate green designated for chipping as well.
All the pros say the fastest way to shave strokes is around the green. For your round, arrive early and make use of this valuable practice resource.
The course used to have a driving range, but a virtual range has replaced it.
5. The Clubhouse – As you wind your wind up Carmel Ridge Road, you’ll know you’ve arrived when you see a stately Colonial-style clubhouse.
The building gives a country-club presence to the course.
“We’ve got great curb appeal,” Hwang says.
Besides the pro shop, there’s a bar and grill/lounge area and an upstairs banquet facility with a patio.
Feel free to stick around after your round and relax with a beverage and join us in a symbolic toast to the newest member of the JC Golf family.
Carmel Mountain Ranch officially becomes a part of JC Golf on April 1, thus benefits for JC Players card members begin on that date. To book a tee time, please call 858.487.9224, ext. 1.