Fairmont Grand Del Mar - Grand Golf Club
Among The Best Golf in San Diego
By Scott Kramer
Being in a longtime San Diegan, I know the local golf scene pretty well. In fact, I take pride in that I've played every course in San Diego County at least once. As a result, I'm somewhat jaded by many of the courses -- there seems to be a lot of good golf courses around town, but not a lot of great layouts. I think for the most part, golf in the county is mediocre, compared to other areas and regions I've played in.
One course that's growing on me, though -- I admit I initially thought it was a dog when it first opened 18 years ago -- is Grand Golf Club in Del Mar. Wow, has this course matured gracefully. The Tom Fazio design is now part of the five-star Fairmont Grand Del Mar hotel property. I got to play it again this week, as part of a media preview of the resort's "Canyon to Coast Package" that offers accommodations for two nights at the Fairmont, a round of golf at The Grand, and a tee time at Torrey Pines' mega-popular South Course, host of the 2008 US Open as well as the upcoming 2021 US Open. Mind you, Torrey's approximate $150 green fees are extra -- but just getting a tee slot can be difficult.
Our group got a very unique putting lesson from course pro Derek Uyeda, who happens to be the putting coach for PGA Tour pro Charley Hoffman, one of several tour stars who use The Grand as a practice facility. Uyeda employs video on the practice green and a computer monitor back in his office, to show golfers how their aim is off. And more importantly, he shows how to fix it. Essentially, he wants to his students to putt in a way that they always take the same stroke on the straightest path, no matter how the putt breaks, to maximize their chances of sinking putts. It's very enlightening, even to the most seasoned golf writers who think they've seen everything.
After that, we hit the course. Grand officials pride themselves on the course condition, and with good reason. It's in as good of shape as any course in the county. And I have heard that plenty the past couple of years. Holes that used to play unfairly tough because shots could easily roll off fairways and into trouble now stop where they should have all along. Greens are immaculate. As are fairways. And located just a couple of miles from the ocean, you feel like you are on very tranquil property. Yes, this is Southern California, so there are lots of houses around the layout. But for those of you in awe of larger, almost mansion-like estates, this is a haven. Holes are challenging, and the terrain is hilly. But you never feel that the course is beating you up. And I'm betting you score better than you think you will. Fazio is known for his holes that bow back toward the middle of the fairway, and thus you will keep many of your shots in the short grass here. An overall very fun and upscale layout.
After golf, I check into my room. The decor is uber nice, with lots of upscale touches. The bathroom alone is about the size of my bedroom at home. The bed is so comfortable, and there's even an espresso machine instead of the usual coffee maker. My balcony looks out over a serene courtyard. And again the word tranquil comes to mind, because this room is so quiet. My entire stay I never heard anyone through the walls or out in the hallway. And the place was bustling.
We eat dinner that night in the private Wine Room that has apparently hosted dinners for the likes of the Rolling Stones. My grilled salmon is spectacular, as is the red wine it's paired with.
I have breakfast the next morning on the patio at Amaya, a restaurant in the hotel that has over-the-top Yelp reviews online. My meal is again outstanding. The choices are wide, and all of the kids around me also seem to be enjoying it -- so I can safely say it will accommodate most appetites. I topped my breakfast off with an immunity smoothie. Mind you, I make glowing green smoothies several times a week at home, and deem mine to be the benchmark of all others. This was spot on.
Our group follows breakfast with a 15-minute van ride to Torrey Pines. There we play the North Course that was reinvented by Tom Weiskopf earlier this year. New undulating greens, thicker rough and well-defined fairways are just some of the highlights. This course is a locals favorite -- much more so than the more-renowned South Course. As a result, it's in outstanding condition, for the first time in ages. And it's always been a very playable, golfer-friendly layout.
Then we return to Amaya for a farewell dinner. As much as I loved breakfast here, dinner was even better. Out on the patio under the moonlight, the ambience was perfect. I had some pinot with a salad and flatbread as an appetizer, and topped it off with a tasty New York steak.
I'm on board with Shawn Cox, the director of golf at The Grand Golf Club, when he says "With Torrey Pines and The Grand Golf Club, you experience two very different types of courses in very different settings. Yet each is iconic to Southern California golf in its own way. When you combine two terrific golf courses with the service and luxury of Fairmont Grand Del Mar, this is simply the best the region has to offer."
After a good night's sleep, I was sorry to have to check out. But I welcome the next opportunity to come back and stay.
The "Canyon to Coast Package" starts at $525 per night with a two-night minimum.
Revised: 09/19/2017 - Article Viewed 2,787 Times - View Golf Course Profile
About: Scott Kramer
Scott Kramer, former senior editor of Golf Magazine, is a freelance golf equipment writer based in Carlsbad, Calif. - the unofficial capitol of the golf equipment industry. His work can be found on a regular basis in publications, such as T&L Golf, PGA Magazine, Met Golfer, Golf Tips and Private Clubs.