Rancho’s “New” Golf Course

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View of the 6th and 3rd greens from the 7th tee.

The golf club just completed an 18 hole renovation of the golf course, which I finally had a chance to play yesterday. This article is my mini review of the renovated course.

The RSF golf course is more private than many private courses since you can only become a member if you own property here in Rancho Santa Fe. So while the course isn’t as expensive to join/play as some other local courses, it is arguably more exclusive. And since it was built in 1929, it is a true walking course – no need for long cart excursions between holes.

The approximately year long renovation completely replaced the irrigation system, made some changes in course layout, and replaced all fairway turf grass and upgraded the bunkers.

The new fairway grass, an advanced Burmuda type, will have good playability characteristics year round, a nice upgrade from the old turf that seemingly was dormant four months every year. The renovations largely didn’t touch the greens as they were and still are world class fast poa annua greens with subtle contours that will challenge any golfer.

The course changes have been welcomed by all players. For example, the par four first hole has been changed from a simple straight tee shot plus straight approach shot into a risk reward hole. Now, for the best green approach, you need to hug the moved fairway bunker, as closely as you dare.

They removed the long cart path down the length of the ninth hole since that’s the general area you’d want to drop your ball onto for a clear shot to the green – the cart path wasn’t necessary and hindered playability. The 18th par five was modified from a fairly boring, hit it long and straight approach into one that requires thought to avoid the new bunker 60 yards from the green. And the green was changed from frankly a funky layout that had a six foot deep roll off area, and a pedestrian two tier green into one that is much more fun and playable.

Rancho was always a great course. It was both forgiving of errant tee shots (you’d have a to work extra hard to actually lose a ball), yet sported a high rating. It was welcoming to both beginners and experts alike. The renovations haven’t altered this characteristic, but have managed to make the course even more fun in a serious golf way (without resorting to gimmicks), while also improving year round playability.

Also, kudos to whoever thought to add the gold tees. Rancho now has six tees. Black for the 7,105 yard long hitters (the renovation added 70 yards to the blacks), blue, white (regular men’s tees at 6,432 yards), gold (frankly what the men’s tees on a lot of other less challenging courses are), red (regular lady’s tees) and green (for younger juniors and older seniors alike). Rancho used to have a funky white/red combo scorecard to make the course more enjoyable for decent, but not long hitting golfers. The new gold tees address that.

And the golf club isn’t stopping here. Still to come are significant improvements to both the driving range and the short game practice area. Finally, a major restaurant upgrade is in the works. All this is occurring while the finances of the golf club are in stellar shape.

Have fun out there folks, and maybe I’ll see you on the course!