Rancho Bernardo Inn

Rancho Bernardo Inn is typically considered a flagship course for course-operator JC Resorts. The property is located in a strange area for a luxury resort, and the infrastructure is dated, but the food, service, and ambiance are.

That means they at least must be a decent golf course on the property. Rancho Bernardo Inn hosted PGA events years ago when the Farmers Insurance Open was known as the San Diego Open. Rancho Bernardo Inn was also featured in the movie 2000 ‘Traffic‘; in a scene that claimed to be set in La Jolla but was the Rancho Bernardo Inn patio.

I love the practice green here. It is probably more for show and doesn’t get much use. It is incredibly long and narrow, right next to the Veranda lounge restaurant overlooking the 18th green.

If a resort course’s goal is to have its players have an enjoyable experience, Rancho Bernardo Inn does well. The course is usually in pretty good shape as it must be kept up to resort standards. It used to be known for its Augusta-like white sand bunkers, and there are some pretty steep ones here. It is not the most challenging course or lengthy course, however.

The third is a notable hole in the front. The back tees play right up against RB Inn’s spa pool. The left-hand side is filled with trees, and a creek runs along the right with a narrow fairway as you approach the green, giving this hole a secluded feel. 

Hole 4 is a 215-yard par-three that plays over a lake to a tricky two-tiered green. The course winds around a residential neighborhood on the front nine, reasonably straightforward, with no trouble besides trees. Number 9 is the signature hole on the front nine, playing just 306 yards with a lake protecting the green.

The back nine is on the other side of the property and has a little more elevation, but overall, this is a relatively flat layout. Holes 13 is a tiny par with a massive bunker protecting it, the green is perched up, and shots don’t always hold the green here.

Hole 15 is tricky; it usually plays straight into the sun if you are playing during twilight, and a creek runs along the run side as it makes its way to a lake some 40 yards short of the green. A slight mishit in the right rough can end up in the water, and there is not much room to miss left. Hole 16 seems to be a favorite here, a downhill par listed at 395 but plays significantly shorter. Many birdies are to be had on this hole.

Lastly, 18 is one of the area’s best finishing holes. A  Par 5 requires you to think your way around the hole. Unless you hit a towering drive into the second fairway, a dramatic 544-yard, true three-shot par 5, if you play this hole straight away, the next shot will be a testy layup with a lake and a towering fountain to your left and a creek that runs up to the green, with trees to the right. A well-placed layup will give you a short shot into a three-tiered green. 

Overall, the course will not blow you away, but the experience at Rancho Bernardo Inn is generally pleasant. It is reasonably affordable depending on the time, and one of the good mid-tier level courses in the area is increasingly hard to find.

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