Barona Creek Golf Club
The Pride of the
Barona Indian Tribe June 2008
are three Indian tribes owning casinos in east San Diego County. Two own golf
courses. The Sycuan Tribe owns Singing Hills and the subject of this article,
the Barona Tribe, owns Barona Creek Golf Club.
This top quality golf course, opened to the public in 2001, is
located 30 miles east of downtown San Diego. Since our initial visit in 2001,
subsequent visit in 2006, there now exists a truly beautiful new casino,
undercover parking facility, a 35,000 – square foot lakeside Golf Events
Center, conference center , a luxurious "ranch-themed" 400-room
hotel and a full service AmBience Day Spa.
The Barona Indian Band has developed the first 18-hole golf
course on a California reservation and spared no expense. Sod was used on all
18 fairways for an instant mature look and making this course only the second
golf course in San Diego to do so. Nearly 100 Augusta White bunkers and a
series of lakes and ponds fed by natural streams add to the golfing
experience. The greens are spacious, firm and very fast.
This championship-caliber, $12 million dollar, par-72 course,
took leading golf course architect, Todd Eckenrode of Gary Roger Baird Design
International, three years to design and construct.
Now, each year, it continues to receive accolades as one of the
best courses in California. The course hosted the Nationwide Tour
Championship in 2007 and will do so again in 2010.
The course was designed to take advantage of the natural beauty
and contours of the surrounding terrain. Boulders and more than 170 full-size
oak trees that are native to the Barona Indian Reservation were incorporated
into the design. Hit an errant chip shot and your ball could ricochet off a
10-ton boulder and bounce down a hillside.
The 7,088-yard course, with its five sets of tees, will
challenge golfers of every level - from professional to beginner. The Black
tees are for scratch golfers! The course offers an exhilarating experience
with dramatic changes in elevation and breathtaking views of the surrounding
valley. It is a course that is very much visually appealing and fundamentally
A really nice touch, incorporating the Tribe's heritage, are the
distinctive small rock monuments etched with a cattle-brand symbol, at each
hole. These markers serve as a tribute to the tribe's founding members, who
were forcibly moved to Barona in 1932 from the nearby Capitan Grande
reservation. The relocated families were allotted one wagon, five cows and
two horses apiece. They used the brands to mark their livestock.
Barona Creek Golf Club has a superb 10-acre on-site practice
facility, which includes a 12,000-square-foot putting green,
6,000-square-foot chipping green and a 40-space, all grass, driving range.
Other classy touches are the complimentary range balls, yardage books, tees
and bag tags.
Each hole is an island of green between large expanses of
rolling hills, rock formations and native plants.
To reach grass fairways from grass tees, golfers shoot over streams
The front nine offer a considerable challenge, especially the
memorable Number 3. This is really a tough cookie of a par 3 if there ever
was one. This is a strong hole set along native rocks, with bunkering wedged
between to serve as a savior of sorts. The hole plays slightly downhill and
downwind, measures 260 yards from the back tees and 200 even from the middle
Together with the bunkering of the upcoming 5th hole serving as
a backdrop, this green appears to be absolutely surrounded with bunker
trouble. The true landing area is more generous than it appears, however, as
the entire left side of the green, and chipping area above serve to work the
ball onto this generously sized green. Watch out for the ridge running
through the middle of the green. A par here will be quite admirable. A birdie
will be practically unforgettable.
The fifth hole is the number one handicap with a stream running
all along the left side, a series of bunkers and trees on the right with a
narrow green surrounded by more sand. The green has a severe slope from back
to front, so staying below the hole on the approach is certainly the best
The par 4 ninth features a man-made lake on the left with a
small stream, which cuts right in front of the green with more sand behind
The back nine is definitely the most challenging and
aesthetically pleasing of the eighteen holes.
The eleventh is undoubtedly a memorable and unique par 3,
especially from the back tees (189 yards). Majestic oaks, dramatic bunkering
and truly artful rock formations surround the green. The back right pin,
partially obscured from sight, had best be played conservatively. It's an all
or nothing shot and par is a very respectable score here, particularly in
The fourteenth is a magnificent short par 4. This hole drops a
100 feet in elevation, is slightly over 300 yards and offers a multitude of
options from the tee. Bold players can give it a go and drive the green, but
must carry the ball approximately 280 yards over a boulder strewn bunker
complex. Most players will attempt to place their drives in one of a series
of landing areas surrounded by a dry creek, more bunkers and a very unusual
native boulder cluster. Certainly a chance for a birdie or better, but
nonetheless dangerous - this is a true thinking man's hole.
The sixteenth hole is the last of a great set of par 3's. This
is the shortest of the bunch, playing even shorter with the predominant wind
at your back. By no means is it the easiest, however. The green is literally
surrounded by bunkering, demanding accurate iron play. The putting surface is
quite complex, combining swales, crowns and ridges to require accurate shot
making. You had better put it close here, or getting up and down will be
quite a challenge.
Both the par 5 seventeenth with its crossing stream and the par
4 eighteenth, feature a large lake all along the left, bringing water
decidedly into play. On the par 5 seventeenth, a boundary fence runs the
length of the hole down the left side, passing by a vintage windmill, which
serves as the aiming point off the tee. From here, play is very strategic.
The second shot offers numerous options, with a gorgeous creek splitting the
hole into two fairways, then wrapping around the left side and back of the
green. Lay-up shots placed close to the creek offer the best angles with
which to attack the pin on this small green.
The par 4 eighteenth has the creek continuing down the left side
of this very demanding finishing hole, spilling into a series of ponds and
lakes, which finish at the clubhouse. Playing into the predominant wind, a
strong drive is advised down this very wide fairway. Those bold enough to
play along the dangerous left side will be rewarded with an easier angle to
this green, set against the lakeshore. A large bail out area to the right
will see a lot of play, no doubt, and offers an opportunity to save par for
those with imaginative short games.
Great beverage cart service, welcoming attendants and a great
pro shop make Barona a truly pleasing experience. Remember though, that
playing in summer should begin as early as possible. It does get rather warm
and water should be consumed in great quantity during a round.
As for the 19th Hole, the entertainment value of the casino is
hard to beat. Barona is "the place" to stay and play. One does not
need to go to Vegas, as Barona offers incredibly superior service to the Las
Vegas resorts and is much less expensive. Their summer golf packages are
Barona Creek Golf Club is one of the very best golf and
entertainment values in San Diego.
Course Rating, Slope and Yardages:
- 72/7088/139/74.5 (Black)
- 72/6590/133/72.1 (Gold)
- 72/6237/129/70.4 (Silver)
- 72/5833/124/68.3 (Teal)
- 72/5833/130/73.8 (w-Teal)
- 72/5296/126/70.6 (Burgundy)
The course opens for play at 7 a.m. The $85 course fee- Monday
to Friday, $100 Saturday, Sunday and holidays includes a cart rental and
practice balls. Twilight rates are available and walking is permitted.
Reservations and additional information can be obtained by
calling the pro shop at (619) 387-7018.
Don King - Golf Pro, (619) 387-7018
Ross Marcano- Assistant Golf Pro, (619) 387-7018
1000 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside, CA 92040.
Directions: Take I-8 to 67 North in El Cajon. Proceed through Lakeside, and
then turn right on Willow Road and left on Wildcat Canyon Road to the course.