The Vineyard at Escondido is a popular par 70 located just outside of San Diego city limits in Escondido. Maybe it is the unique course branding or location near the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park because word has gotten out about the Vineyard. People have asked about the course separately in different cities and states.
The Vineyard is not a travel destination nor a course I would go far out of my way to play. There are much better options for visitors to San Diego to check out before settling here. American Golf manages the course, considered a level below a JC Resorts-managed course. The Vineyard is American Golf’s flagship course in San Diego.
The front nine is very flat and winds around an environmentally sensitive area that comes into play on several holes. Many holes play adjacent to each other, a miss can often mean you are just in another fairway, so it is pretty forgiving in some areas.
The highlights come quickly at the Vineyard. The second hole requires exact yardage off the tee to avoid overdriving at the fairway or hitting the lake that fronts the green.
Hole 3 is the signature hole, a tiny par 3 with another lake protecting the green. The seventh hole is a bit of an unusual par 4, just 295 from the back tees, but the tee shot is blind whether you hit the fairway or try to drive the green.
The back 9 has considerable elevations and has a more rural feel, almost two different courses. There is a significant elevation change as the course winds around the Orfila Winery; now, you finally understand how the course earned its name. Despite the 6,531 yards listed on the scorecard, the Vineyard has quite a few long par 4s, many of which play over 400 from the back tees.
The 11th hole is particularly tough, a 457 beast of a par four that ascends into the San Pasqual Valley. The holes start to get more scenic here. Holes 12-15 are among the most beautiful parts of the course, and it makes me wish the whole course was more like this. The 18th hole is a 411-yard par 4 with a massively elevated drive that can produce some beautiful finishing hole views in the distance.
The Vineyard is a San Diego staple, and while it is not the best course in the area, after losing four courses in North San Diego (Escondido Country Club, Carmel Highlands, Carmel Mountain Ranch, and Stoneridge Country Club), it is a complement to the San Diego golf community.