Encinitas Ranch is one of the few golf courses in San Diego, with significant ocean views throughout the entire property. This has never been known as a challenging golf course, a slice barely hurts you on many holes, and there is not too much trouble throughout the course.
Encinitas Ranch plays alongside coastal bluffs that give a Torrey Pines-type feel in some areas. The course itself is very centrally located and accessible, but the setting is what makes this place. The highlights come quickly at Encinitas Ranch since the nines have been reversed. The scenic finishing holes are now 5 through 8.
The signature hole 7 plays to a blind uphill fairway with a steep barranca and sandstone cliffs on the left. Encinitas Ranch is a typical JC Resorts course that is good for the weekend golfer but nothing that resembles championship golf material. Since the course is not very long, course management is critical; a driver is not always needed.
Most people play iron and shoot safely to the right to climb the hill. A well-struck iron leaves you with a short severe downhill shot with beautiful views of Carlsbad and La Costa in the distance. It is a short par 4, but still the number 1 handicap, the signature hole.
Number 8 is also a solid hole. A canyon plays along the left side of this reasonably uphill long par 4. It is a typical risk-reward hole where you must determine how much of the canyon you want to take off to leave yourself a shorter shot. A consistent offshore wind understandably could push this ball left into the gully.
Encinitas Ranch is a top-rated course; It is a muni and very playable, so don’t expect any fast rounds out here. For big hitters, the course can feel pretty pedestrian. The greens were a knock on the course, extremely hard in some places, and very inconsistent overall, with lots of unfixed ball marks.
The rate to walk at twilight was $34. The views and setting make it well worth it, but the rates can get pretty high for visitors making playing here a questionable decision. This is a course I recommend to people coming to San Diego who doesn’t necessarily want to pay Torrey prices or are looking for something less intimidating but still can get an authentic Southern California golf experience.