Mt. Woodson Golf Club

“Golf is just part of the experience at Mt. Woodson’ – Mt. Woodson is a San Diego favorite and arguably one of the most unique courses you will probably ever see, almost every hole would be a signature hole on any other course, and the drives between the holes are lengthy and exciting.   

It was probably the best deal I found at 42 dollars for twilight and virtually no one on the course during the week. If this course reached its full potential conditions-wise, it would be far more expensive.

When visitors talk about what courses to play besides Maderas, Torrey Pines, or Coronado — Mt. Woodson should be added to this list for its sheer uniqueness. When you come to Mt. Woodson on your first visit, the course is so spread out that you have no idea what you will see or experience. 

The course is off the beaten track, located in Ramona, California, a rural part of San Diego that feels like you are in a different state. The entire course plays at the foot of Mt. Woodson (known for Potato Chip Rock) and is the epitome of target golf. 

As a Par 70, it is not a long course by any stretch, but it can still test the best in the world. Phil Mickelson played here a few days after winning his first Masters in 2004. There are many visually intimidating holes; if it’s your first time playing the course, bring a few dozen balls.

Mt. Woodson starts to take its shape on hole 2, a short par 4 with a vast canyon all along the right side and hazard left.  Once you get to this hole, you can quickly see that driving accuracy is paramount at Mt. Woodson and you will be hitting targets virtually all day. One lousy stroke, and you are re-teeing here.

 The scenery at Mt. Woodson is just as fascinating as a golf course. In the pro shop, they do not even ask you if you want a cart. They hand over the key. The highlight of the course is arguably not even a hole but the drive between holes 2 and 3, featuring a 450-foot wooden bridge, an architectural marvel that takes you way up to the signature hole tee box.  Hole 3 is one of the country’s most visually intimidating par 3s, a medium-length hole that creates an island green look as it is flanked by brush on all sides.  Par is a good score here. 

There are almost no traditional-looking holes at Mt. Woodson. This is not a parkland course but a mountain course that could be described as extreme golf. Course management is critical, you can easily play many holes without a driver, but if you want to work on driving accuracy, this is the place to do it. 

The Back 9 

The 10th hole is about as bare as it gets at Mt. Woodson, a very short, straightforward par 4, but the course is currently renovating number 10. It looks like they will put a lake directly in front of the green with water running along the left side. This would make this another great risk-reward hole.  Holes 13 and 14 are a bit more traditional from Mt. Woodson’s standpoint, back-to-back par 5s that play adjacent to each other.  

The finishing holes are something special. 15 and 17 are very short drivable par 4s that play at the mountain’s base.  The ball contrasts so well with the chaparral backdrop that you can trace the ball flight the whole way, which is fun to see.  There are a lot of birdie chances towards the end of the round to make up for some of the trouble you have to navigate up until this point.

Worth the drive

I highly recommend Mt. Woodson for golfers of all skill levels and visitors to San Diego.  There were a couple of guys I ran into on a San Diego golf trip, and they were raving about the course, and this is after playing Torrey Pines, Maderas and Coronado.  It is worth it to come to check out Mt. Woodson, as it is an experience that is unique to Southern California.

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